Winter Into Spring

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I’ve been listening to a lot of George Winston lately.  My favorite album, “December”, I save for mid-summer, along with Amy Grant’s “A Christmas Album”.  The one I’m listening to now, Winter Into Spring, is what it feels like around here, this first week in April.  It’s technically Spring, but not quite.  At least I’m listening to season appropriate music.

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George left aboard sv Summer Wind last October for his 2nd winter at sea with Captain Nick.  Their destination?  As far south as they could get.

The Captain flew me in for 10 days while Summer Wind was anchored in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and we had a rental car at our disposal.  That poor car.

We explored Ponce:

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We enjoyed our favorite cuisine – street food.  Meat on a stick is my fave.

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We strolled along La Guancha at night taking in the smell of deep fried meat turnovers, and I found a lovely bartender who made me an excellent margarita.

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We hiked through El Yunque Rainforest, supposedly the only tropical rainforest in the US National Parks system, however, a few friends disagreed.  I don’t remember their arguments, but I’m sure they were good ones.  The snails were really cool – like miniature flying saucers.

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We drove 6 hours round trip to spend an hour at Arecibo Observatory.  The car ride to get there was almost as memorable as the radio telescope, except I’ve blacked out most of it.  The twisty, windy, narrow roads looking straight down sheer cliffs with no guardrails had me crouching under the dashboard.  George took the coastal mountainless route back.

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Back at the anchorage in Ponce:

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The boat continued on without me with a stop in Guadeloupe.  I’m joining them tomorrow in Martinique.  Hope I remember my Creole.

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Letter to the Arctic

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From: George Huffman

To:  The Arctic

Subject: Your poor performance

cc:  Chris Parker

Dear Arctic,

I hope you’re enjoying your time of darkness of which I’ve once again provided by baiting the Sun Southward as per our agreement.

Now about that agreement – I sit here writing this letter to you from the WRONG side of the Mona Passage.  Yes, Samana is nice, and they have many bananas and other entertaining and delicious diversions, but it’s just not Puerto Rico.  But even in getting here from Puerto Plato, we took a pounding into head seas.  Head seas and winds!  TRADEWINDS!

I’m here to remind you that you are obligated by contract to disrupt those tradewinds.  Your recent efforts have been woefully lacking.  Pathetic really.  You need to bring it!

I mean, for real?  You have the fucking jet stream at your whim.  Are you going to let some little tropical convergence zone keep you from doing the right thing?  Fuck that.  Get off your ass and BLOW, dammit!

I can always just get frustrated to the point I bring back the Sun early, too, you know.  I mean, if you really want to go there…but I’ve seen the before and after pictures of your glaciers, and they are looking kind of sickly, dude.  And how much can that ol’ Ross Ice Shelf take before it just slides right off?  Don’t think this is just idle chatter.  I mean it this time.

You only need to get me to 65 West and you can tuck your lousy ass back up to Canukia for the duration for all I care.

Anytime after the 9th, Bitch.  I’ll be standing by.

Yours truly,

George

P.S. I know where the Ross Ice Shelf is.  It’s fucking satire… sheeesh.

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Stoicism

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Eleuthera.  It was to be our prison for several days of hard winds.  On our way in we caught some food so we would not starve.

The next morning the sky was very angry.  So we up-anchored and ran down to Rock Sound.

All we could find to eat were snails.

And the next day we found some bugs to eat.

When the sun set it was angry again.

I suppose there’s work anywhere for a handyman. So if we were stuck here any longer I’d find some way to stay busy.

Captain Nick put on a brave face through it all.

Next stop might be Mayaguana, where once again we will be imprisoned until weather permits us to proceed.

Conch Tales

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George is back on sv Summer Wind again this cruising season, and after a fast and non-eventful passage (the best kind) from Annapolis to the Bahamas, they are right now preparing to head further south for the Dominican Republic.

George wrote this just before they left the dock in October.

I love conch.  Everything but cleaning them.  Man, are they some slimy suckers to clean!  But I slice them thin, pound the heck out of them with a tenderizing hammer and batter fry them, and the  they are very good to eat.

Catching them, actually more like collecting them, is fun too.   My favorite method is to drift dive for them.  In this case, I take the dinghy out to an ocean pass where the current of an incoming tide drifts me and the dinghy back across a grass bank.  The conch like these passes too because of the food the tide brings them.  Kind of ironic like that.

 

When the tide is wrong or there’s wind against tide, my second favorite way is to get towed behind the dinghy hanging onto a line.  When I spot a conch I drop off and dive down to retrieve him.  I free dive only in the Bahamas as it’s illegal to hunt with compressed air or spearguns.  On the banks off of Eleuthera last year I dove down to 27 feet to retrieve some really big conch.  I was actually down there after some lobsters but once I’d taken them all, I got the conch to round out the meal.

 

When I knew I was leaving the Bahamas last Spring, I went out and caught a few conch with the idea that we would have a nice cracked conch feed this summer in Annapolis.  I froze them, shell and all, since it’s a nice way of preserving the shell intact (instead of cracking a hole in it to get them out).  Today, I finally cleaned them, just days before departing for the Bahamas again, and this drew a little attention at the fish cleaning station here on the dock.

 

Passerby:  Wow are those conch?  Where did they come from?
Me:  Oh, right out there in the river.   (pointing at the Patuxent)
Passerby:  But… how..?!
Me:  Ya, the river’s thick with them this year.
Passerby:  But… I mean… how did you catch them?
Me:  Oh, you bait a treble-hook with a Bahamian Goat Pepper and drag it really slow.  When you feel the conch strike – and it can be subtle – you jerk back and set the hook hard.
Passerby:  !