Three Gray Lines

Companies and capital operate internationally, often beyond the economic reach of any particular nation-state. People are pretty global , too, living lives that freely cross national borders

Chrystia Freeland

It is a  strange pastime, but  I’ve been looking at nautical charts lately. They are full of cryptic symbols and squiggly lines, all of which have a deeper meaning for those willing to take a close look and do a little research. Those mariners who manage to keep their vessels off the rocks recognize the symbols representing the aids to navigation and the soundings. But what about some of that other stuff. What exactly does that gray line interrupted by little fishies represent? The three nautical mile line and twelve nautical mile territorial sea line are also gray, and their meaning seems self-explanatory, but what exactly is their significance. Call me a nerd, but I looked it all up. 

The gray line interrupted by little fishies between St John and Tortola marks the Exclusive Economic  Zone. Typically this extends 200 miles out to sea from the coastal state, but when neighboring nations are close together, they draw a  line down the middle and call it a day. In this situation, the British have economic dibs on everything to the right, and the  Americans have economic dibs on everything to the left. This 200-mile line is a big deal and changed almost overnight in the mid-1970s by a  UN  resolution. Before this, commercial fishing vessels would travel across oceans to fish close to the shores of distant nations.  A problem because there was no practical way to enforce fishing limits and maintain sustainable fisheries. A surprise to me, but there was widespread if not universal agreement.  Perhaps nations that did not gain from a fisheries standpoint saw it as a way to keep foreign oil rigs from springing up off their coast, but that is speculation on my part. 

Also by UN agreement, the territorial sea extends  12 nautical miles from the shoreline of a coastal State. Within this zone, the coastal State has full sovereignty and may legislate on matters as they see fit without obligation to make these rules compliant with international standards, other than allowing the innocent passage of surface vessels.

So what about the 3-mile line?  In 1608, Hugo Grotius published in his book MARE LIBRUM the idea that the oceans belonged to all states equally. He supported the premise that all vessel have the right to navigate and fish without interference. He allowed for a territorial sea belt for self-defense of 3 nautical miles, which was about the maximum range of the cannons at the time. The use of the oceans for the next three and a half centuries was bound to this legal framework. Now, the  3-mile line marks the boundary beyond which we can empty our holding tanks without fear of being fired upon by cannons.

Rock Carvings

Our ancestors are totally essential to our every waking moment, although most of us don’t even have the faintest idea about their lives, their trials, their hardships or challenges.

Annie Lennox

The Petroglyphs

I first visited this site near Reef Bay St John USVI in 2014 to find a young gentleman enjoying this serene spot. We exchanged a few pleasantries for five minutes or so when he noticed my camera and offered to move so I could get a better shot of the petroglyphs. I sheepishly explained that I’d been trying to think of a polite way to take his picture as he looked perfect sitting there. He obliged by posing for several photos, then explained that he could trace his lineage to the Taino Amerindians who carved these images sometime between AD 900 and 1200.

2 island natives. One of them goes way back .

I’ve been back several times, as this is a special place.

Indigenous Americans, including those of the Caribbean, believe that the natural world and the supernatural world are intricately intertwined. They hold high regard for their ancestors and believe that communication with them is possible. Ceramic artwork found in archeological sites in Puerto Rico depict human faces with bat noses, odd perhaps, but this makes perfect sense if one believes the human spirit can physically cross from the supernatural side to the natural side in the form of a bat. In Taino culture, bats were respected, revered, and feared. Is it a coincidence that the petroglyphs in this area are all in caves or adjacent to pools of water? Nope. Where do bats hang out? In caves and, in the evening, over pools of water where all the bugs are. So, if you are going to carve pictures of your revered ancestors with hopes of gaining supernatural knowledge, you do so where they come to hang out. And if you are particularly creative, you put the carvings near the water’s edge to get a reflection representing the duality of the natural and supernatural. Neat huh?

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So how do you get there ?

The easy way is to grab one of the National Park Service day morning buoys in Reef Bay, dinghy in to the beach near the Reef Bay Plantation then take Reef bay trail inland, there will be a well marked spur to the left that takes you to the petroglyphs .

The more difficult land route is to catch the Reef Bay trail head on centerline road, there is space for a few cars , take the trail downhill to the sea, of course coming from the other side the spur will be to the right. The hard part is, well , going back up. St John in mountainous.

Parting thoughts.

Visit the petroglyphs with friends, and when the conversation turns to the origin of the carvings, even though you now know better, volunteer that ancient space aliens came to St John to go snorkeling, and when they got tired, carved their pictures on the rocks. Snorkeling space aliens, that’s what they look like to me. It’s plausible or not.

Here is Annie Lennox again:

The last Straw … in a good way

Attitude and enthusiasm play a big part of my life.I get excited about things that inspire me .

Dwayne Johnson

My sister in law, Nora , has accused me of being a rotating hobbyist . Mr. Webster says “a hobby is an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure”, if this is so then I have five main hobbies, four of which were part of the rotation by age twelve. I’m almost always intensely enthusiastic about one or two of these. Eventually my attention turns, but like the spokes of a wheel, quite reliably my interest does circle back again. Of course, It’s sailing and to a lesser degree photography that pertain here.

The original plan was to leave sailing behind but that was not to be. Several events made it increasingly obvious that I needed all five spokes. The final straw came in the form of a 33 foot World Cat known as Catzilla, which ironically isn’t even a sailboat. She is owned and operated by Katie and Joe, two of the nicest people on St John. We chartered their boat a couple of times, fell in love with the islands and knew the islands needed to be a bigger part of our lives. They were gracious enough to meet with us to discuss the charter industry and other things St John. Ultimately , it made more sense for us to have a sailing vessel that we could live aboard than a day boat. However , I suspect that is not the situation of most people. If you only have a day, and are looking to experience the islands by boat, which you really must, I highly recommend you give Katie and Joe a holler at Love City Excursions to see all the options they have available and to book “the best day of your vacation”. You won’t regret it. I promise. The following pictures will give you a tiny glimpse of the possibilities .

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Some times it just take the just a little bit of encouragement to “Let my heart take me where it wants to go “.

Moon Jellies

Comic by Scott Nickel

We are all jellyfish, too pitiful and too afraid of being disliked to be honest.

May Sarton

Ouch, as true as it may be, May Sarton’s quote really stings. The good news is that the moon jelly pictured above has really short tentacles, is rather poor a hugging and as far as stinging goes is pretty weak. So no excuses, everyone into the pool or ocean at the case may be!

Not all sea nettles are as benign as this one, I recall what a nuisance the Chesapeake bay version* was when I was a kid . Those have long tentacles that are great at wrapping around arms and legs . Since visibility in the cloudy water of the bay is limited at best, particularly in summer, those big bad hugs were often big bad surprises. Unlike the Caribbean, where swimming is a year round pleasure , the season is quite a bit shorter up north. Just about the time the water becomes nice and comfortable those nasty , nasty sea nettles were entering the free swimming medusa stage of their life cycle. By the forth of July swimming becomes an at your own risk proposition. We would use spotters but due to water clarity, or lack thereof , there were no guarantees. Yeah, I know there are jelly fish in the waters of Australia that will kill you so I shouldn’t be complaining.

That said there is a certain gracefulness to these creatures, they truly go with the flow and its hard to imagine their neural networks experiencing much stress. Their lifecycle is truly bizarre and a grad student in China recently discovered the things can actually age backward – sort of. They wave been around for 500 million years and are the oldest multi organ creature. They are 97% water and of low nutritional value. Despite this sea turtles and sunfish enjoy dining on them. According to wikipedia the moon jellies pictured here are considered to be edible. 321 thousand metric tons of edible jellies, not the bean kind, were harvested globally in 2001. But unlike lion fish I have never seen moon jellies on the menu of any Island menu. Yum. So if you want to give it a go, your adventure will be of the do it yourself variety.

The above video and featured image were taken in the waters off Coki Beach, St. Thomas USVI

It is thought that our oceans may become more gelatinous. While human presence typically has negative consequence on marine life, pollution has reduced the pH of the seas and overfishing has reduced populations of competing species, both to the delight of the jellyfish .

You can find anything on YouTube ( this one is worth a listen but has a little language so be warned )

*In 2017 the Sea nettles in the Chesapeake Bay were determined to be a species separate from the Atlantic Sea Nettle.

Christening

Naming a baby is an act of poetry , for many people the only creative moment in their lives.

Richard Eyre

Thousands and thousands of years ago Poseidon , if you are Greek, or Neptune , if you are Roman , same dude just different languages , began recording ship names in The Ledger of the Deep. The idea is that if a vessel’s name is recorded in the ledger, Poseidon would see to it that the vessel is protected form harm. The new system was announced to mariners via a precursor to the now familiar “notice to mariners” publication. Sailors were quick to adopt the new tradition as it afford an extra layer of protection. Using one’s own wits is always a good idea but who could pass on a little help from the local Greek ( or Roman) god. To be on the list a vessel needs a name and hence the beginning of an old tradition . Name on the ledger and you are good to go. If not , well … then you are on your own. No name, no ledger entry, no protection . Don’t laugh, this is not an old superstition. The US Coast Guard requires a vessel be named before it can be documented, and our insurance company insist that SeaSea’s name be written boldly upon her policy. A coincidence ? I think not! Why? Because the same is not true of automobiles, they just get a license plate, and with all due respect to the auto enthusiast of the world, Neptune just doesn’t give a hoot about automobiles.

Fortunately, the recording fee is reasonable, it is basically the cost of a bottle of Champagne which is paid at the time the vessel’s official naming ceremony. Typically a few words are said, a blessing recited, Poseidon mentioned , the words, “I christen thee Enter Boat Name Here*” are spoken , a bottle of Champagne is smashed against the bow, Champagne spills into the sea, Neptune’s fee is paid, and finally the vessel name is entered into the ledger. In these modern days of fiberglass and gelcoat it is now acceptable to pour Champagne over the bow and then from East to West into the Sea instead of the smashing thing . Pouring may be a bit lame but Neptune doesn’t like chipped gelcoat. It’s my personal opinion, but not officially required, that the pouring or smashing of Champagne should be over both bows of a catamaran. If only one bow gets christened , it is easy to imagine that some clerical error will occur and only half the boat will be protected. Over the many thousands of years that the ledger has been maintained, you know this has happened at least once. Just imagine the headache of converting from sea scroll to digital, mistakes are bound to occur even if you happen to be an ancient god. Of course all three bows of a Trimaran should be doused and yes the ceremony gets a little lengthy and a tad more expensive.

Following the Champagne smashing, the owners and guests traditionally drink a toast to the new vessel. This too is not required and has more to do with the participants wanting an excuse to drink than the idea of Poseidon not wanting to drink alone. It is, however, required that a branch of green leaves be aboard the boat when the fancy words are spoken, the Champagne is spilled and maiden voyage is sailed. That branch is very important and whole point of the featured image above. It is acceptable that it became a little ragged by the end of the maiden voyage. What matters is that it remained in place for the duration of the voyage and that it symbolizes a safe return to port. Anyone who sails aboard SeaSea can rest assured that they are perfectly safe because all dues have been paid, traditions followed and her name properly entered by Poseidon himself in the Ledger of the Deep. For non-believers who think this is all a bunch of hooey , I’ll remind you that the Titanic was never christened and that during prohibition the USS Arizona was christened with water. Water is of course not an accepted currency for this particular transaction and is the reason why I’d be super skeptical about using “Champagne” from West Marine to christen a boat. Word has it those bottles are filled with seltzer water.

*It would be great fun to see what the Coast Guard and insurance company would have to say to a captain who wants name their vessel literally ‘ENTER BOAT NAME HERE’

Slippery

When I see a slippery slope , my instinct is to build a terrace

John McCarthy

Catamarans don’t heel much, at least not enough to need a terrace, so I had to devise another way to evaluate the boat shoes on the coffee mugs aboard SeaSea. Sailing isn’t all about exotic ports and colorful sunsets. A stable vessel for the morning Joe* is an absolute must.

Perhaps not a must, and you would be justified in wanting to leave the 110 outlets and USB ports ashore, but the reality is most of us are addicted to devices that need power. It’s almost embarrassing how many of theses things grace the berths and the saloon of our little cat.

Not all galley-ware comes from the chandler’s shop** as the the knives in our galley hail from IKEA.

To finish off this little talk of kitchen ware, electronic addiction and morning libations, we have from the 2018 Album ” Black Coffee” this little ditty.

*In 1914 Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels banned alcohol from all U.S. Naval ships. Coffee became the strongest beverage abroad and came to be known sarcastically , as Josephus Daniels, later shortened to the slang we use today, a cup of Joe.

** How candlemakers got into the business of selling ship supplies is beyond me.

Ocean’s Seven

If you laugh, you think, you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special .

Jim Valvano

Days spent on boat are almost guaranteed to be a full day . Ocean’s Seven is family oriented Beach Club with seaside dining, and a bar specializing in tropical drinks , located at Great Harbor, Peter Island .

It’s a great place to wind down chill out and finish one heck of a day, even if you only go there for drinks. We found the staff to be friendly and the drinks tasty.

As you can see the facilities are new and well maintained. Next time we’ll have to try the food.

It’s my understanding that this establishment is named for the movie ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ a little tweak and poetic license was taken to make a ‘number’ a little more personal to the owners. Can’t believe that movie is 20 years old. The pirate in me shakes his head and says ‘Argggg” or at least thinks it.

Leverick Bay

Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life.

Werner Herzog

Let’s face it , if you’re in the islands chartering a yacht or God forbid piloting your own boat than you have likely already pulled that a figurative boat over the figurative mountain, either that or you have been very, very lucky. I did my nautical mountaineering as a young man, not sure I could do it now, though I like to fool myself that a I could. Composite carbon fiber hulls are certainly a lot lighter than the classics but something tells me they are even harder to get over that metaphorical mountain . But I digress…

The pool at Leverick Bay

Leverick Bay is a wonderful stopping/shopping place at the Northeast side of Virgin Gorda . Its a a water sport haven on Gorda Sound ( aka North Sound) . Jet skis, beach cats paddle boards are available for rent. There is also a full service dive shop on site. Guests, whether in a slip , on mooring ball or hotel room are welcome to use the above swimming pool .

More mundane but perhaps an even bigger draw is the on site laundry and grocery store. The latter is well stocked . When the laundry is done head over to the restaurant and finish the day at the beach bar, Jumbies … they have a pirate.

If you fancy land travel you can catch a taxi from the Marina/Hotel complex to Spanish town or the Baths. Below are some of the water toys available for rent … including our dinghy George and SeaSea, who is being bashful at the moment and hiding in the distance . See if you can find them.

Leverick Bay

For fun google ” flip flops required” unless you are an engineer, I suspect you will wrinkle your nose, squint your eyes and say “whaaaat?” And last but not least , flip flops are required … just kidding.

Good Morning

Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.

William Arthur Ward

The same old same old …

There is comfort in monotony. You’ve been there and done that. The days merge together. It’s easy and because each day is the same and because the routine has already been sorted there is an economy of effort. You’re on autopilot. You drive to work and unless it’s snowing you don’t even remember the drive. How did I get here you ask yourself. You are following a script that you probably didn’t even write. It’s your brain’s response to civilization.

The cost of comfort is monotony. Of course we can break the monotony with a random vacation here or there. We can sign ourselves up for a tour that someone else has sorted or go to the same tourist trap over and over again. There are proponents of these approaches, and I admit enjoying both such diversions from time to time.

Make your time count …

Could there be a better way? Maybe. True adventurers risk their personal comfort and sometimes futures to completely do their own thing. They find something that excites them and they follow that passion wherever it takes them. Most of us don’t have that kind of courage. But with a disciplined mindset we can do it part time. Find your passion, then spend your leisure time honing the skills to follow your dreams.

Don’t miss the opportunity, to wake in a new port each day, Create Your Own Adventure, and make your time count. After all every day is a new day and you only have a hundred years.

Guana Island

I think it’s my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may.

Leonard Nimoy

This isn’t where we had planned to spend the night . Harbor A and harbor B were not feeling quite right. Being perhaps a little picky we moved on to find this little anchorage which was protected from the wind that had made for a day of exciting sailing.

Not in the picture but directly behind the aim of the camera is Guana Island, 850 acres of private land. According to Conde Nast Traveller “90 percent of Guana Island remains wild but the resort, which holds just 35 guests in 18 rooms, finds its decadence in privacy and natural beauty.” Apparently , only registered guest are technically allowed on the island, but no worries there is a mooring field and from there the seclusion, serenity and sunset of this special place can be enjoyed.

Back in March 1964 Queen Elizabeth visited Guana Island. There is terrace named for her from which guest watch for the elusive green flash at sunset. Mariners in the harbor are not likely to enjoy the terrace itself but can easily hear the complimentary entertainment provided by the island’s four legged singers. I wonder what the queen thought of all the bleating goats. We found them very entertaining, and courteous as their performance did concluded once it got dark.

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