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.

Roar

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.

Henry David Thoreau

Back in the eighties when Tommy worked on the docks and Gina was working the diner all day , Joe the anonymous aquarium enthusiast was importing Indonesian lionfish. In a copycat reenactment of innocent Nemo’s adventure, nefarious accomplices, perhaps with the help of a hurricane helped aquatic Ascari and friends escape to the coral reefs of Florida. They spread slowly and quietly at first but by the 2000s lionfish were becoming a nuisance and now are found along the warmer coasts of North and South America , the Gulf Coast and throughout the Caribbean. The problem is that they are horrible dinner guest. They eat everything. Imagine the patrons at one of Gina’s tables eating all the food in the kitchen, the other diners, the waitstaff, the cook and then not cleaning up or leaving a tip. How rude!

The reefs are suffering as a result. So how do you deal with a rude diner guest? Well the folks at Vox have a few suggestions. You can hunt them , you can eat them, you can even teach sharks to eat them and of course there is also an app for that. I prefer the eating part. Lionfish happen to be quite tasty and are served at many on the local establishments throughout the islands, including The Twisted Cork Cafe , one of our favorite places in Frenchtown and just a few short steps from the docks where SeaSea rest her sails between charters. In my humble opinion, the teaching of sharks to eat lionfish should be left to the more accomplished and daring divers of the group, aka the idiots.

Woman Behind The Wheel

Maybe truth and compassion could become a new trend with a woman behind he wheel.

Kelly Mcguire

On christening day I was caught with deer in the headlights surprise when asked how this dream came to be. From my mouth came the words ” well, nobody said no” , I was of course thinking of dear wife Sandy . While not always enthusiastic about my crazy ideas she rarely says no and eventually becomes my partner in crime. She has descended snow covered slopes in awful frigid winds , climbed mountain trails in breathless tropical heat, kayaked ocean waters in torrential downpours , swam with barracuda , danced in ski boots and eaten raw fish. Now she is driving our boat. All because I thought it would be a good idea. *

I’m perfectly happy letting her drive the boat. Taking pictures and snorkeling can be my job, heck I’ll even weigh the anchor and handle the sails. No biggy … SeaSea has an electric windlass and winches. Thanks sweetie .

*Well, in the interest of transparency and full disclosure climbing the subtropical mountain and kayaking in a monsoon were not entirely my idea … are you reading Nigel .

Coming About

In the waves of change we find our true direction

It has  been exactly  a  year, to the  day, since   we  returned  from the  islands and  our  giant  pair of  skis  to the   craziness of the   corona  virus  world.  I  only managed  to  get the little  skis  out on the snow once this  season  and  will  likely be  putting those  away  soon. There are many  parallels , yes intentional ;-),  between  skiing and  sailing. “Tacking back and  forth” is  just one of them.  Perhaps  a  bigger one is the  nature of the people the  two  sports  attract.  In a  coconut shell, sailors and skiers are   adventurous  outdoor  people who are willing to put  up  with the  whims of  mother nature in  pursuit of a  little fun. 

We are a product of our families and dad was a sailor. On perfect days, tiller in hand, he would go into a trance like state, in the groove, his breathing would change and his focus would sharpen. I only observed this in him when he was steering his boat, but it happened many times. I , perhaps, experienced something similar as a lad when skippering a dinghy for the first time, but I think that was something different. I was making dad proud and that made me happy. After college, as youth often do, I came about and sailed on a different tack . Due to career building, young family and indecision, I was directionless, without a rudder, and in irons when it came to pastime passions. Eventually I became a skier, and pursued a sport that dad had never tried.

On perfect mountain days, I’ve occasionally found that elusive trance like groove where everything falls into place, is effortless and just happens. It’s quite a wonderful thing and as I’m discovering right now very difficult to put into words. Nevertheless, things internal and external change , it’s the nature of the universe. For me the wind has shifted and for now I’ll be sailing on a different tack in search of the perfect ocean day. With sails trimmed , hulls in harmony with the sea, and dancing to the rhythm of the waves, dad’s sailing trance can’t be that far away. The quandary remains, however, sailing and skiing , port and starboard which is which ? I’ll contemplate that the next time I’m ” in the zone” because I’ll need both to get anywhere.

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