Sunday, December 30, 2012


Most people think of winter as cold.  People who live in the northern States have the idea that Florida is warm all the time.  This is to let them know that some people who live in Florida (and points further south) think that any temperature below 70 is cold.  That would be me. 

Today was an overcast day, high was about 55, about 10-15 mph winds and I was freezing!   Mostly, I stayed inside, with the heater on, still cold.  In the winter, I pretty much stay cold, and I'm sure that some of it psychological.   I know it's cold outside, so no matter how warm it is inside, I feel cold.  Did I just hear someone say something about a wimp?  Yes, that would be me.

I was raised in upstate New York, so I know what really cold is.  I lived in Florida for years and it's a damp cold as opposed to a drier cold up north.   Not to mention that my blood got really thinned out.   Then, I went cruising and spent years in the Caribbean, where I almost never got cold, except sometimes on night passages.  Especially in the winter, with the breeze and no sun - yes, the wimp got cold.  The picture above is from Union Island, by the way. 

After cruising, I moved back to Florida where the summers are nice and warm - actually they seem warmer than the Caribbean, except maybe Trinidad.  The winters here seem to have gotten colder than when I lived here before cruising, but it's probably me being a wimp again.

Yes, I am lucky I don't have snow to shovel.  I do have ice frozen on my car on some mornings when the dew has frozen and I have to turn on the car heater - I don't have an ice scraper.  I would never be able to live anywhere north of here.   I keep saying I need to move further south........

Betty Karl

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Haircuts

I always cringe when I have to go in for a haircut.  I wait until I can't stand it anymore, can't do anything with it and it's annoying me.  Then, I impulsively head for the salon and take my chances with whoever is free at the time.

When I was cruising on the boat, I cut my own hair.  I must admit, I did a pretty good job at it.  Other cruisers commented that they were impressed with the job I did.  It was cut short, a few inches long all the way around.  In the beginning, I tried to get my partner to do at least the back, since it was hard for me to do, but he was not good at it, just took lumps of hair and whacked it off where he thought it should be.  After fixing up a few of those experiments, I decided I did it better myself.

One time I was in Venezuela, a friend was going for a haircut in a local salon and convinced me I had to go and get a "professional" haircut after all my years of cutting it myself.  OK, I decided I'd take a chance, it would grow back anyway.  It was the worst haircut I've ever had  - she couldn't get one side to match the other in length, so she kept going from one side to another and clipping more off until I nervously told her it was enough.  I figured I could even it up and hope it would grow FAST!  It was SHORT!   I felt naked - quick, get the hat!

That was the end of my foreign haircuts while cruising.  While I was waiting for the boat to sell and planning to move back to land, I decided to let it grow a little longer.  While it grew, I'd trim the bad ends off and kept it looking decent. 

I've now let it grow about shoulder length and simple - it has to be simple because it won't do anything anyway  - no curl at all.  Any curl put in lasts about 5 minutes and I can't stand all that mousse or spray. 

I go to the same place now to get it trimmed and that gives me a little bit of security that I won't be scalped.  A new haircut feels good, the ends are fresh and they behave a little better than when they're split or old.  Maybe next time I won't wait until I can't stand it before I get it trimmed again.

Betty Karl

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas - Happy New Year

As I write this, Christmas is pretty much over.  I've had a good day, made pumpkin bread this morning for dinner at a friend's relative's house.  In their family, traditional Christmas dinner is lasagna.  Not what I've been used to most of my life, but I love pasta, and therefore, was very happy with the choice.  Of course, I'm always very happy when someone else cooks for me.

I'm really not much of a Christmas person, I'm always glad when it's over.  The end of the year always seems like a good time to me.  A new year seems to promise new things, better things, maybe things will somehow magically be perfect.  Of course, I always say I'm going to make more of an effort at losing weight in the new year - how many years have I said that?  Well, some years I've succeeded, and then gained it again!

Whatever your feelings for the season, I hope you've had a wonderful time.  A time of memories full of good people, good food and good times.  Next year, I hope the world will finally be at peace.  I wish for peace and prosperity for everyone, and I hope they enjoy themselves.

Happy New Year!

Betty Karl

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Windows 8

Just wanted to tell you all, be nice to your computer.  My 5 year old computer died a few weeks ago and I had to go out and get a new one.  The new one just happens to have Windows 8!  I am not happy with Windows 8!  I had Vista on my old one and Windows 7 on my computer at work, no problem.

Windows 8 wants to look like an IPhone or an IPad.  It has little squares app buttons on it, all preloaded, most of which I dumped.  Thank goodness, it also has a desktop app that you can work with.  There isn't a Start button in the normal place.  Instead, on the right side of the screen, right where you go to use scrolling for sites, it has a small window that appears usually when you don't want it to.  The Start button is in there, as well as settings (which is where you shut down) and a few other things.  It's where you can find your Control Panel and a few other things.  It's annoying because when I don't want it, it pops up  - then when I want it, it's bashful and takes prodding to come out. 

There are other things like a wrong swipe of my finger on the mousepad will make my screen go to the previous page.  Sometimes, a wrong sweep of the mouse will take me elsewhere.  My computer didn't come with a touch screen, which is fine with me.  Apparently, a lot of them do, which would make it more like an iPad.

The new computers don't come with Word or Excel - Microsoft wants you to pay extra for these programs that have been free for ages.  Some people can get away without these, but Word is important to me.  I have tons of files that use Word and the Word Viewer that I can download free does not do the trick. 

They even made my Spider Solitaire hard to work with.  When you're on that program, you don't have the time showing like you did in previous editions of Windows.  You need that to remind yourself how much time you're wasting!   You can't make the screen smaller so you can go play a game when you want to get away from whatever you've been working on and then easily go back to it.  They have a lot of graphics if you win a game - very annoying, unnecessary stuff you could turn off on the old systems.  I can't figure out how, or if, these can be turned off.  Yes, these are silly gripes, we all have our nitpicky opinions.

My IT guy at work told me of a program I can download that will make it look/work like Windows 7.  I want to be brave and just download it and think all this annoying new stuff will be gone.  However, I know that I've downloaded stuff before and have been VERY annoyed at the results, and  then spent a lot of time getting rid of what I spent a lot of time to get!  I will plan a day when nothing else is likely to happen. 

I guess the bottom line is that I had my old computer working the way I wanted, it didn't pop up with stuff I didn't want and couldn't figure out how to get rid of.  I was comfortable with it and now Microsoft wants to take me out of my comfy cocoon and make me learn to deal with their idea of great programs.  I was happy in my little rut. 

Like I said, be nice to your computer.  It may get even with you in the future.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mental Jukebox

I like music, I have it on in the car all the time.  Whenever I walk for exercise, I have my little MP3 player going, all different kinds of music.  If I'm doing housework, painting, I have music on to make it more fun.

Sometimes, in the morning, I wake up slowly and I have a song going through my head.  I never remember the dream I was having that may have included it.  Maybe there was no dream, maybe it just popped into my mind or maybe it was next on my mental playlist.  But it's there, and I can't get it out of my head until I get more music into my head to replace it  A lot of the time, it's something I haven't heard for a while, could be months since I've heard it - was my mind just missing it and wanted to hear it?   Most of the time, it's music I like, so it's not a problem.  I usually enjoy what's playing in my mind. 

One morning, I woke up to a song running through my mind, and of course, I can't remember now what it was.  It was a song that I didn't like, REALLY didn't like, and my brain was repeating that chorus.  I had to find something else to listen to before it really annoyed me.  Whatever my theory is on this jukebox, I can't explain it playing music I don't like.  It was obviously something that was popular at one time and there was no way I could avoid hearing it.

I have no explanation for this, but most of the time, it's enjoyable.  Here's hoping if you have the same thing happening, it will be music you like.  I can't believe I'm the only one this happens to.



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Psych Ward?



Psych Ward?


I work in a doctor's office, have been at the same job for quite a few years. I like most of my patients. I know most of them by name, even know their spouse's name . They come in and we catch up on news, we're more friendly than some of my family members, actually more than most of them.

Full moon comes about once a month. Believe me, full moon does change things. People become a little bit more unreasonable, more demanding and then there're the ones who haven't been in for months and expect that we can see them NOW, doesn't matter that we already have a full schedule, and by the way, we're not a walk-in clinic.

At one time in my life, I owned a bar/restaurant and noticed that during full moon, we would see people we hadn't seen since last full moon. And the regulars got just a little bit more strange. It got REALLY interesting during "that time of month".

I've heard from police officers, medical staff in emergency rooms and other physician's offices (not to mention the actual psychiatric institutions) that they also notice during full moon the rise of unusual behavior. It can't be just me that sees this, other people have noticed.

Did anyone feel like howling at the moon a few days ago?? Did you feel like dancing on tabletops? How about any other erratic behavior (or erotic, whatever....)?



Friday, November 23, 2012


My computer died the other day.  It was tired of working too hard, tired of being pounded on for hours, just tired of being on all the time.  It was over 5 years old and it had been acting cranky for a while - I knew it was coming. 

Luckily, I have an external hard drive, too bad I didn't backup more than I did.  I only lost a few things, which I've been able to reconstruct.  As long as my external hard drive is intact, I haven't lost any of my photos, of which I have thousands.  I think, after I get this new computer up and running and all my information on it, I'll back up my photos to DVDs also, just in case the external drive goes. 

Since my old computer was grumbling and non responsive so often, there were a few things I was working on and wanted to be sure I was able to save those, so I put them on memory sticks, just in case.  That's also a relief, I could have used them more often too.

It is not fun to find out that your computer will not let you into your records.  It refused to restore itself and now that I have a replacement, I'm sure it will never speak to me again.  The hard drive might be intact and I could probably pay someone to get the information off it, but it feels so good that most of my stuff is on that little black box, waiting to be put on a new hard drive. 

Not only do you worry about what you might have lost, but you feel disconnected, abandoned, out of touch.  You would like to research new computers, but you can't get on any websites to do so.  You can't check email.  Obviously, this is someone without an iPhone!

When was the last time you did a backup?


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Everyone thinks of Bimini, Freeport or Nassau when you mention the Bahamas.  They’re too civilized and touristy for me.  When we cruised through the Bahamas, I loved the out islands, the southern islands that never get any tourists except by small boats.  Places like Acklin Islands, Mayaguana and Rum Cay, plus uninhabited places like Conception and the Plana Cays.

At one of the islands, instead of ice cream, they had frozen Koolaid in a cup, only $.25 each.  They also had a small souvenir shop called "Everglades Souvenir Store", with knick knacks for sale, all covered with small shells.  It didn’t look like they sold much, since they were pretty well covered in

On Rum Cay, we were walking along the road exploring and an American man in a Jeep stopped to talk to us about living there.  He told there were about 6 couples/families living there, some of them have their own planes.  He got a phone a few years back and power was brought to the island in the past few years.  Before that, everyone had solar panels, and some are still in use on houses.  He said the locals were very accepting of them and very friendly.  Before deciding to build a house there, he had been cruising for 12 years in his sailboat.

On another island, some locals stopped to see if we needed a ride and asked us if we were on the yacht out in the harbor.  We were the only boat out in the harbor.  They see so very few people that they’re overly friendly and helpful.  We found a store on that island and bought some eggs.  The refrigerator at the store smelled funny when we got the eggs out, but I didn't think much of it.  Luckily, I looked at the eggs before I put them in our refrigerator - they had a couple maggots crawling on them.  We ditched the container and washed the eggs off.  Such is life in an island where the mail boat still only shows up once a week.

Mayaguana has an airfield which is no longer in use.  There were a couple airplanes off to the side, hadn’t been used in years.  There are a lot of stories about small planes and drug runners from a few decades ago.  We assume these were from that time, although we don’t know for sure. 

All these islands are sparsely populated and the locals are friendly.  Most of them didn’t have what we would consider a grocery store, but they had the basics.  Sometimes it’s nice to get off the beaten path to find out what a place is really like and what the people are really like.  And how simple life can be.


Island slide shows at 
Island Fever, the book at



Sunday, November 18, 2012

Night Rainbow

While we were anchored in Luperon, Dominican Republic, for the hurricane season, there were a group of cruisers there for the same reason. We found quite a few things to do in this country, horseback riding, hiking up into the forest and taking the bus to a nearby big city for provisioning. There were lots of parties in different cockpits in the anchorage and pot lucks at the marina as well as domino games there.

One day, we decided full moon was excuse enough for another party and had a dinghy raftup to watch the sun set and the moon rise. Everyone brought munchies and drinks and we rafted together for the event. The moon came up brightly peeking through the trees on the hill and everyone was having a wonderful time until a rain cloud came over and dampened everyone, but not their spirits. This created a phenomenon that none of us had ever seen before, a rainbow at night! It appeared in the sky opposite the moon as a very pale monochromatic, but very complete rainbow, which we named a "moonbow". It was amazing how many people, all various ages, and no one had seen this happen before.

As with alot of things in life, you need to be at a certain place at a certain time for things to happen - good or bad. It's interesting to think about what might have happened if you had taken a different path in life, just one small change could make a total change in your life.

Monday, November 12, 2012



Sloopy is the tiny kitten I adopted in Trinidad when she was about 4 weeks old.  She and her brothers had been living under a pile of dinghies at a marina when the staff evicted them and took them to their animal shelter.  Another cruiser convinced me we needed to bail them out of kitty jail, so we did, found homes for the 2 boys and I kept the female. 

She liked living on the boat, except for rough passages, she was always intrigued by what she saw in the water around the boat.  When she was young, she fell off a few times, but always managed to rescue herself with her kitty ladder we had tied to the stern rail, some braided line.  She finally learned to stay on the boat. 

There's a chapter about her adoption in my book, Island Fever.  She wrote another chapter in the book, called "Security Officer", since that was our nickname for her.   When we left the boat, we always told her she was in charge.  Her idea of that duty was to take a nap. 

She was so cute and always getting into everything.  She absolutely loved it when we caught fish and cleaned them on the back deck - the girl loves her food!  She was a great companion on the boat and loved sitting in the cockpit watching everything going on in the anchorage. 

I put together her own slide show on You Tube - check it out at this link

Our book is at Amazon -

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


For me,  creativity sometimes manifests itself mostly when I'm in an amazing place.  Usually, it would be a beautiful, out of the ordinary setting that would fill my senses.  Watching a sunset on a beach, with the low hanging clouds tinged with shades of colors from the setting sun - sometimes they seem closer than usual, as if they're trying to envelop me. 

When I was cruising, I vividly remember night passages when I would be scribbling phrases in the dark so that I would remember different things the next day when I'd want to write them into the log, or write an article about an idea that just popped into my head.  I found if I didn't write at least key words, I'd somehow forget the exact words or idea that was just perfect, and the words wouldn't sound as expressive the next day as they seemed the night before.

Other times, I remember things that are like a photo I can still see vividly in my mind, although no photo exists.  Sitting in the cockpit of my boat on passage from Venezuela to St Thomas, I remember looking back at the dinghy davits, solar panels on top of them.  The Southern Cross was bright and perfect right above them.  The rest of the sky was brilliant with stars that illuminated the waves as they came toward the beam of the boat and the boat, heeled over, slid gracefully over the top of the wave into the trough.  It was a beautiful night and even though I was allowing myself 10 to 15 minute naps to get some rest, I sat there for a long time, just watching the sea and the sky and drinking in the experience. 

On another overnight passage, I was sitting in the cockpit looking out at the black night, feeling apprehensive, since I was running away from a hurricane that later devastated Grenada, which I had just left.  I was feeling a little drowsy until I noticed movement in the water - and light!  Dolphins had come to play near the boat, following alongside and the phosphorescence made them glow so that I could see their entire shape.  It's as if they knew I needed company, what a way to get rid of the sleepiness! 

The beauty of the islands helped me create hundreds of photos, some better than others, of course.   The features of the landscapes of the different islands and beaches were just perfect for creating photos that I can still get lost in.  I can still remember the day I took some of these pictures, the subject matter makes it that vivid in my mind.  Sometimes a photo will bring back an entire day.

If you're having trouble creating, try a change of scenery, a walk on the beach or a hike in the mountains to see a vast panorama.  You'll be surprised what a new outlook you'll have.

Island Fever book available at

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Island Fever - The Beginning

Many years ago, I got hooked on books about traveling by sailboat. Mostly, the books in the library were about people sailing around the world, visiting remote islands and telling how beautiful everything was. I read them all. And then I started thinking it would be great if I could do the same thing one day. The idea kept growing.

Whenever I took a vacation, it would be to the Caribbean islands, there were pretty beaches, clear water, good hiking and exploring - and great photos. I was sitting with my partner one day on the balcony of our little house up a steep hill in Marigot Bay in St Lucia, looking at the boats in the harbor. I convinced him that the cruising live would be great and I could sell everything: my house, my rental houses, vehicles, everything - and buy a sailboat to live and cruise on. That started this wonderful plan.

I started selling things, looking at sailboats to buy, preparing to leave. It took about two years to get everything done and we moved onto the sailboat and left the dock for the last time.

Along the way, I decided to create a narrative log - to keep memories of what went on, what we did, who we met and where we were. Then I decided I would write articles about different subjects, but all concerning living and cruising on a boat in the Caribbean. This is how Island Fever was born - and it has now been published, both in Kindle and paperback.

For 7 years, my partner and I traveled together, exploring islands, meeting other cruisers as well as locals, having great times. Then one day, he decided he no longer wanted to continue and left the boat. Instead of heading the boat to the nearest boatyard, as a normal abandoned female would have done - I decided to find crew to help, after all, it was a 47' sailboat. More stories to tell about that! I finally decided it was safer for me and the boat to just do it alone, so I did. I rationalized that I really had been doing it alone since the crew I found were not much help, so it wouldn't make much difference. The last 3 years after my partner left were accomplished either with non-helpful crew or by myself.

If anyone has ever had any interest in travel by sailboat, wants to know what it's like, what we did all day and what we saw - this is the book. I address all sorts of subjects - scenic island tours, boat projects, having pets on board, hurricane evacuations, and some funny anecdotes.

Betty Karl