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