Alhambra — October 10, 2019

On October 10 we Americans (Barb & I and Bill & Colleen) took a day off from almond harvesting and drove up to Granada to see Alhambra.  Barb and I had been there twice before — the first time in 2006 on a side trip from Brunborg’s First Annual International Almond Harvest, and the second in 2011 ,  when a large number of friends of the Brunborgs were helping with the harvest and celebrating the birthdays of Tove and Barb — but both times we had only seen the outer grounds, since we had not been able to get tickets for the inner palaces.

From Wikipedia:

The Alhambra  is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition), and the palaces were partially altered in the Renaissance style. In 1526 Charles I & V commissioned a new Renaissance palace better befitting the Holy Roman Emperor in the revolutionary Mannerist style influenced by humanist philosophy in direct juxtaposition with the Nasrid Andalusian architecture, but it was ultimately never completed due to Morisco rebellions in Granada.

Alhambra’s last flowering of Islamic palaces was built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain during the decline of the Nasrid dynasty, who were increasingly subject to the Christian Kings of Castile. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the buildings occupied by squatters, Alhambra was rediscovered following the defeat of Napoleon, who had conducted retaliatory destruction of the site. The rediscoverers were first British intellectuals and then other north European Romantic travelers. It is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country’s most significant and well-known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inspiration for many songs and stories.

Adventures in Spain — Time with Brunborgs; October 7-13, 2019

On October 6, we (Shipleys and Bill & Colleen) drove our rented auto down from Madrid to southern Spain.   We were in the neighborhood to visit Norwegian friends Lars Helge & Tove Brunborg and to help them with their almond harvest. Also joining in the harvest, and the attendant merry making, were Rasmus and Kari. They bunked at Casa Emilie, villa of Lars Helge & Tove.  We stayed in the villa of generous Norwegian friends Bjørgulf & Berit Haukelid in the nearby little Spanish village of Itrabo.

We began the picking on the morning of the day 7th.  For a few of the smaller trees, the almonds could just be plucked from the branches, but for most, the almonds were persuaded to release by beating the branches with long sticks. A large net lain underneath the tree collected the proceeds which could then be coaxed into large plastic tubs.  The byproducts of the process include leaves and bits of twigs as well as outer husks, so the tubs are taken up for sorting on a table outside of the villa.

We spent the morning of the 8th picking more almonds, and then all went for a short walk in the neighborhood.  That evening, the Americans made dinner.

On the 9th we all went to Almuñécar.

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Almuñécar is a municipality in the Spanish Autonomous Region of Andalusia on the Costa Tropical between Nerja (Málaga) and Motril. It has a subtropical climate. Since 1975, the town has become one of the most important tourist towns in Granada province and on the Costa Tropical.

The Phoenicians first established a colony in Almuñécar in about 800 BC and this developed for six hundred years into an important port and town with a large fish salting and curing industry that was a major supplier of Greece and Rome.

The Romans came to southern Spain at the time of the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage in 218 BC as part of their campaign to subdue the Phoenician settlements along the coast. During 700 years of Roman colonial rule the town and its industry prospered, and in 49 BC the municipality (one of 20 cities in Spain honoured at that time) was given the title Firmium Julium Sexi in recognition of the town’s loyalty to Rome.

With the decline of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, Germanic peoples, including the Visigoths, crossed the Pyrenees mountain range into the Iberian peninsula. By 456 the Visigoths emerged as the dominant power, and expanded their territory onto the southwestern Mediterranean coast. However, Hispania remained relatively Romanized under their rule. The Visigoths adopted Roman culture and language, and maintained many of the old Roman institutions, although much of the economic structure collapsed, and at Almuñécar the fish curing industry declined rapidly. The Catholic bishops were the rivals of Visigothic power and culture until the end of the 6th and beginning of the 7th century—the period of transition from Arianism to Catholicism in the Visigothic kingdom.

The first Muslim invasion of southern Spain came in 711 AD at or near Gibraltar. At Almuñécar, the town remembers 15 August 755 when Umayyad Abd ar-Rahman I of Damascus, the founder of the Emirate of Cordoba, arrived from North Africa to establish his Moorish kingdom. The Moors introduced the growing of sugar cane and sustained the fishing industry; many of the streets and buildings of the old town were developed by the Moors. The castle remained the stronghold of the city and the seat of government and its walls were strengthened. Extensive dungeons were built for those out of favour with local rulers, but also baths for the use of the social elite.

The cross on Peñon del Santo, the rock at the old harbour entrance, marks the defeat of the Arabs, their surrender at Almuñécar, and the beginning of Christian rule in 1489.

Following the restoration of Christian rule, new architectural statements were made – for example the construction of a new church was started in 1557 and completed to the latest design in 1600, the first Baroque-style church in the province of Granada. The old town was also Christianised (or perhaps paganised – by the Goddess of fertility herself), as in the building of the water fountain on the Calle Real (Royal Street), dated to 1559 and with the royal cypher above, but at that time using the existing Roman water supply from Las Angosturas first installed 1500 years earlier.  [Source: Wikipedia]

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We explored the crowded old-town shopping area, stopped at the busy indoor market, and then retired to the beach for lunch at one of the seaside restaurants.  As I walked the beach after lunch, a merchant, recognizing me as a tourist but unaware of my Caribbean experiences, benevolently insisted that I take pictures of his several banana trees.

On October 10th the Americans broke away and drove up to Granada to visit Alhambra. (Blog coming)

On the 11th, having returned to Itrabo, we all drove up into the spectacular Sierra Nevada Mountains and visited two picturesque villages. In the first, Pampaniera, we paused for some shopping and coffee. In the second, Capileira, more shopping and a delicious lunch.

On Oct. 12 we all walked up the hill that Lars Helge & Tove live on. Their villa is on the west side of a ridge, and the road runs up the east side, climbing much much higher. At the top, we found paragliders!

On the morning of October 13 we showed Bill & Colleen the marvelous almond sheller that Lars Helge had commissioned by a group of design students.  After that demo we jumped into our respective autos and took a narrow twisting road high up to see “the ghost village” in the Sierras of Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park: the lost village of El Achebuchal.

In 1948 some two hundred villagers were ordered to leave El Achebuchal.  Authorities suspected the villagers of supporting rebels hiding in the mountains, by providing them with food and shelter.  Effectively the villagers were victims, caught between a rock and a hard place; hassled by both the authorites and the rebels during the remenants of the civil war.   Once vacated, the village became empty, derelict and was lost in time.

Fifty years later one man returned to re-build the village where his parents once lived.  His family restaurant, the tavern in the village,  is an authentic Spanish tavern, serving seasonally available specialities of delicious plates of game in rustic sauces.  Inside the restaurant there is an interesting collection of black and white photos providing a fascinating insight into campo life, and a life when El Achebuchal was a bustling hamlet.

On the morning of the 14th we took our leave of our Norwegian friends, and drove back up to Madrid.  The visit with Lars Helge & Tove and with Rasmus & Kari had been, as usual when we spend time with them, thoroughly enjoyable.  Tuesday the 15th we caught a flight to Rome, and from there, another flight to Florence.  See a later post for coverage of our Florence stay.

Adventures in Spain–Madrid; October 2-5, 2019

 

We, Barb and I and our friends Bill and Colleen, have been on an incredible adventure.

On October 1, 2019, we flew out of Phoenix AZ , with a stop in Frankfurt. After nearly 24 hrs in transit and into a time zone differing from Phoenix by 9 hrs, we arrived in Madrid.

 On the 2nd we toured the beautiful Park of Madrid and visited the Prado Museum, officially known as Museo Nacional del Prado, the main Spanish national art museum.

We spent Thursday the 3rd getting the “big picture” in Madrid by walking around and riding in the top of a double-decker tour bus.

We visited the Royal Palace on the 4th.

 On the 5th we visited the Museum Cerralbo, which houses the art and historical object collections of Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, 17th Marquis of Cerralbo, who died in 1922. The museum, which is housed in the former residence of its founder, opened in 1944. The building was built in the 19th century, according to Italian taste, and it was luxuriously decorated with baroque furniture, wall paintings and expensive chandeliers. It retains to a large extent its original aesthetics and features an interesting collection of paintings, furniture, archaeology, ancient weapons and armor. [Wikipedia]

We also visited the massive Museum of the Americas (Museo de América), a national museum that holds artistic, archaeological and ethnographic collections from the whole Americas, ranging from the Paleolithic period to the present day.

As an institution, the museum was founded in 1941. The permanent exhibit is divided into five major thematical areas:

  • An awareness of the Americas
  • The reality of the Americas
  • Society
  • Religion
  • Communication

And finally we rode an elevator to the top of the nearby tower Faro de Moncloa, which afforded a fantastic view of Madrid.

On October 6 we took a rented auto from Madrid to Itrabo, in the southern part of Spain.  For that story, tune in to the next post.

Back to the USA

We have sold Tusen Takk II.

When we moved aboard in July, 2005, it was with the agreement that we would stay on the boat only so long as we both wanted to.  After 13 glorious years during which we both felt like we were indeed “living the dream”, one of us decided that she was ready for something else.  I resisted.  When that didn’t work, I begged for just one more season.  That was granted, and completed in May, 2019.  And so we readied the boat for the anticipated sale and for the long cruise back to the USA.  Among other things, I spent a huge amount of time painting all of the bilges and surfaces in the “downstairs compartments”, and a considerable amount of time revarnishing interior surfaces “upstairs”, including the saloon table.

Our very good friend Bill (nee Dolce Vita) offered to join us for the passage, and we accepted at once;  he arrived several weeks before our planned departure, the better to enjoy Bonaire one last time and to help with the preparations and to be present when a weather window appeared.  Even before his arrival, I had begun preparations by opening up the middle fuel tank in order to see if it needed cleaning after our 14 years of use.  It was remarkably clean, presumably due to our habit of always running the built-in fuel cleaning system whenever we were underway.   When he arrived, we prophylactically took apart the stabilizers in order to check the condition of the trunions supporting the hydraulic cylinders.  We replaced the John Deere serpentine belt, and I changed the JD oil and filter.

It was windy when Bill arrived, and it stayed windy, with no prospect for improvement, causing our minimum standards for the passage to Puerto Rico to slip a bit.  We decided to depart on May 22, knowing that the first half of the trip would be somewhat bumpy.  We planned on leaving around midnight to effect an late morning / early afternoon arrival at Puerto del Rey Marina in Puerto Rico some days and 425 nautical miles later.  Just as the sun was about to go down, I expressed regret that I wouldn’t be able to see Bonaire as we were leaving.  My crew mates were sympathetic, and so we made a hurried departure.

All of our careful calculations about arrival time were soon scrambled. During the initial 12 hours we experienced numerous uncommanded resets of the stabilizer system with the stabilizer system deciding to occasionally turn itself off, sometimes raising an alarm that required a manual reset, and other times just resetting itself. The sea conditions were pretty rough in 4-5 foot seas with 6 second intervals at about 60 degrees apparent. There was also an unfavorable current varying from .5 to 1.0 knots.  We were only making about 6 knots SOG instead of the anticipated 7.5 knots.  Worse, the starboard stabilizer began squeaking so noisily that we decided to remove it from service.  

We arrived at Vieques on 5/25/19, and proceeded to Puerto Del Rey Marina on mainland Puerto Rico the next day. We contacted TRAC about the reset problem, and they sent us a new servo box and an associated control panel.  While we were setting the appropriate parameters in the control panel, it froze.  TRAC sent us another.  While waiting for the parts, we drained and replaced the hydraulic fluid for the stabilizers.  We drained the coolant for the JD and genset and removed and cleaned their heat exchanger cores. We replaced the JD thermostats. We replaced coolant and seawater hoses.  We took the opportunity to get rebuilt two hydraulic cylinders for the stabilizers, and commissioned the removal of broken locking screws in two extra stabilizer yokes. We replaced the zincs on the rudder. We cut a new through hull and rerouted to it the stabilizer heat exchanger sea water line. We replaced the windshield wipers. We replaced an anchor roller on the pulpit. We replaced a defective hi-pressure gauge for the stabilizer hydraulic system. And when the parts finally arrived, as I have said, we replaced the stabilizer servo box and control panel.  And then replaced the replacement control panel.  Whew!

 On our penultimate day in PR we used our rental car to do some exploring along the southeastern coast.  We found for lunch a restaurant (Vinnies) in Naguabo that specialized in seafood.  Later we stopped at a charming little shop (La Casita Amarilla Café, in Humacao) for coffee. We observed many signs of the devastation of hurricane Irma, including many damaged homes and the universal damage to all wind generators. 

When we left Puerto Rico on June 14, the stabilizers were strangely ineffective.  In fact, the boat seemed more stable with them off than with them activated.  We double-checked all of the parameters, and found nothing wrong.  The starboard stabilizer once again got noisy and we deactivated and pinned it.  We had a very rough night on June 16 between Turks and Mayaguana.

Late on June 17, we decided to stop for some rest and to check our fluid levels at Atwood Harbour on Acklins Island in the Bahamas.  While snorkeling to check our anchor, Barb got a scare when she noticed a big shark.  It didn’t take her long to get out of the water.  Later, a local fishing guide stopped by. Barb asked him if he would use our “lookie bucket” to check our anchor.  When he returned with good news, she rewarded him with my last bottle of rum!  He later returned the favor by gifting us with three lovely lobsters.

We spent 6/19 working on both stabilizers and got our first clue as to the cause of their continued misbehavior; there was excessive play on the shaft of the starboard stabilizer and that was causing excessive wear.  Bill got advice from TRAC and learned how to tighten a nut and eliminate the wobble.

We departed on June 20, and quickly realized that the stabilizers, although quiet,  were not providing stabilization.  Fortunately, the seas becalmed and we could continue with them pinned and deactivated.  We stopped briefly at Highbourne Cay to do some reprovisioning.

We spent the night of June 21 in Nassau at the Yacht Haven Marina, where we had a great Snapper dinner at the Poop Deck.

On June 22 we left Nassau and travelled through perfectly calm seas, arriving at Bahia Mar Marina in Ft Lauderdale 23 hours later.  On June 24, the East Coast head of TRAC service came to the boat. He reviewed the parameters in an effort to find an explanation for the ineffectiveness of the stabilizers.  His initial puzzlement vanished once his attention turned from the parameters in the control panel to the servo box itself.  As he smacked his palm against his forehead, he explained that on most boats the servo box is mounted to a forward or rear bulkhead.  On our boat the servo box was mounted on a side panel to starboard.  Inside the servo box is a gyroscope that senses roll.  But with the servo box mounted 90 degrees off from the usual orientation, our gyroscope was sensing hobby-horsing rather than roll.  No wonder the stabilizers weren’t able to counter the roll we were experiencing while underway!  The solution was easy:  the gyroscope within the servo box could be remounted within the box to be oriented correctly.  It took only a minute.  Then, we spent some time discussing optimal parameter settings to minimize wear, and perhaps most importantly, received an admission that the official admonition to not lubricate certain parts in the stabilizers is an instruction that neither the West Coast nor Each Coast service managers follow.  They strongly recommend the use of a suitable lubricant in order to prevent wear (and the accompanying squeaking that had plagued us).  

We ordered new parts to replace the worn parts and made the parameter adjustments.  When the parts arrived, we rebuilt the stabilizers with the new parts one final time, lubricating liberally.  But each major repair of the stabilizers required the setting of a certain parameter to enable the use of a special device to adjust the orientation of the sensor that informed the system of the position of the stabilizer fin.  When we had completed the repair we needed to return that special parameter to its original value.  Somehow in performing the reset we “stepped on” a different parameter, although it was not immediately recognized.  The result?  As we left, the fins barely moved at all, providing no stabilization!

There were some tense moments, and some invocations of “sailor speak”.  But then a careful review of ALL of the parameters revealed the existence of the grotesquely out-of-spec parameter,  We made the correction, and for the rest of the trip to Brunswick, GA we had lovely efficient and smoothly working and blissfully quiet stabilizers.

It was  June 26 when we left Ft Lauderdale and proceeded up the coast toward Brunswick, GA.  We arrived at about 6 am on June 28.  We found Brunswick Landing Marina to be a very pleasant place, as was the village of Brunswick.  The Marina has a very nice Yacht Club which is the site of Monday, Wednesday and Friday “happy hours” that last from about 5:30 pm until about 8 pm or later, and which feature snacks and nibbles provided by the marina guests and free wine and beer provided by the marina.  Furthermore, the keg of beer is open to guests 24/7!

On August 3 we welcomed our first (and only!) visit by a potential buyer.  They professed to be very impressed.  A few days later they made an offer, and by August 15 we had settled on a mutually-agreeable price.  The sale was completed on September 13.  We are sad to close out that part of our life, but are pleased that our beloved boat will be in the hands of enthusiastic new owners that will take good care of her.  We hope they enjoy her as much as we did.

And so we are boatless and homeless and living in our 2011 Tiffin Allegro Bus 40′ RV diesel pusher.  We expect to stay that way for the foreseeable future.  We spent some time parked west of Flagstaff on the property of our friend and benefactor Bill.  We are now in Phoenix, where we will store the bus and join Bill and Colleen on an extended trip to Spain and Italy.  We depart on September 30.  In addition to sight-seeing in Madrid and Granada, we will all spend about a week helping our Norwegian friends Lars Helge and Tove with their almond harvest near Itrabo, Spain.  Then on to Florence and Matera.  Then on to Rome, where we will begin on November 1 our return to the USA on a Celebrity cruise on their latest ship (Edge) that will take us from Rome to Florence/Pisa to Provence (Toulono) to Palma de Mallorca to Tenerife (Canary Islands) followed by a week at sea before landing at Ft. Lauderdale on November 15.

This is how we counter my grief at no longer living the dream aboard Tusen Takk II !

 

 

 

 

Catch Up: Late February – Late April, 2019

While I was in Bismarck visiting Mom and Zona in late February, Barb stayed aboard Tusen Takk II to hold down the fort.  Not that “holding down the fort” is a chore.  The new Magnum inverter/charger is so efficient that we seldom need to use the generator; the thousand-watt array of solar panels coupled with the 1680 AH battery bank keep the domestic-style GE refrigerator cooling just fine.  Our sailing friends have learned that we always have ice cream in the freezer.

Good friends Bill and Colleen and Buck arrived in Bonaire for a month-long visit.  They stayed at the home of Paulein, where they kept themselves busy with a number of major projects on her home.

Here are some of the activities Barb and our friends indulged in during my absence:

When I returned, the ‘gang’ participated in the annual Bon Doet day, an island-wide day in which teams of volunteers work on worthy projects.  Our project turned out to be so large that it took two days to finish:  painting the roof and exterior walls of a community park and playground.

Barb’s sister Audrey and brother Tim came and spent a week with us, and we kept them busy with social gatherings. Audrey arrived in time to help us with our final day of Bon Doet painting (which happened to also be on her 70th birthday) and got her photo in the local newspaper.  Tim’s arrival was delayed a day or two since a blizzard in the Great Plains prevented his departure. 

 

On February 21 Tom & Gigi, residents in the building directly ashore from our vessel,  showed us a lovely hiking trail with some unique trees in the Sabadeco area.

We were thrilled that daughter Nellie and her husband Michael (who visited us at the end of December) had such a good time, that they came back for another visit in April.  They spent a great deal of time snorkeling and now know lots of the fish by name.

We had to say goodbye to a number of friends on the island who were leaving and we don’t know when or if we will see some of them again.  The mooring field is beginning to feel lonely. 

The Passing of Evelyn Viola Shipley 3/31/1919-3/31/2019 — blog dates February 24 – April 30, 2019

I wrote this in early March:

“Mom (Evelyn Shipley) is apparently on her final descent.  She has been on somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for a number of months, experiencing various mini crises and then rebounding.  Barb flew up to Bismarck in December and spent 10 days or so, helping sister Zona cope”.

When Mom was admitted to hospital In late February with flu that compounded her heart problems and her multiple myeloma, we hoped for another rebound but feared for the worst.  I flew up to Bismarck on February 25/26 to help sister Zona deal with the situation.  Mom was very weak and wanted someone to be with her during all of her waking hours.  

I took these pictures while I was there:

When Mom’s flu and pneumonia had somewhat resolved, her hospital stay had to end.  What should the next step be?  Several months in a rehabilitation facility attempting to regain her strength?  When we asked Mom, she was decisive:  she had had enough.  She wanted to go home and suspend the heroic efforts.  Zona made arrangements for Hospice to render her assistance back at home.  I stayed for a few days longer to assess how that would work out, and then returned to Bonaire on March 8.

Mom passed on March 31, 2019, exactly 100 years to the day from when she was born on March 31, 1919.  

Here is her obituary notice:

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Evelyn Viola Shipley, Bismarck, passed away March 31, 2019, on the 100th anniversary of her birth. She passed in the care of Sanford Health Hospice.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at Parkway Funeral Service, 2330 Tyler Parkway, Bismarck.

She was born in Ryder, March 31, 1919, to parents Thomas Lars Enok Bergh and Torbjorg Hovde. After her mother died, she and her siblings were spread out to extended family and neighbors. She grew up with her grandparents on their farmstead in rural North Dakota with her 13 aunts and uncles, where she lived through the depression. She said they were happy even though they had very little. She was the widow of Wilbur (Bill) Stokes Shipley and together they had children, Zona Gail Shipley Robb and Charles Thomas Shipley.

She graduated from Peever High School in South Dakota and received a teaching degree from Aberdeen State Teachers College. Evelyn taught elementary school for many years in venues ranging from one-room country schools in northeastern South Dakota to urban schools in Romulus, Mich., and in and around Jamestown. She resided in Jamestown for many years before joining her daughter Zona in Bismarck. She and Bill were enthusiastic square dancers and avid campers. Evelyn impressed all who knew her with her warmth and good spirits. She was no shrinking violet; she accompanied her daughter to daily workouts at a gym well into her 90s. Her enthusiastic and animated participation in card games were the stuff of legend. She continued to be an active member of a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses right up to her recent illness.

She is survived by her children, Zona and Charles; grandchildren, Susan Robb Tadewald, Cathy Robb Dockter, Erik Robb, Jessica Robb Prudden, Nellie Shipley Sullivan, William Jon Shipley; and great-grandchildren, Madeline and Oliver Tadewald, Sophia and Evan Robb, Cole and Katie Dockter, Lily Prudden and Katie and Jessica Tomlinson.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill; siblings, Alvin Marvin Bergh, Alf Bergh, Lloyd Bergh, Joyce Schmidt, Ellen Skramstad; and her granddaughter, Lara Shipley Fairchild.

Evelyn will be remembered as a loving and beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and as an example of a long life well lived.

The family requests any memorial gifts to be sent in care of Sanford Health Systems Hospice.

Go to www.parkwayfuneral.com to share memories of Evelyn and sign the online guest book.

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At the funeral on April 20, attended by 142 people, and afterwards at the home of Zona, Barb took a few pictures of some of the guests.

Let’s face it.  Funerals are sad.  Death of a loved one hurts.  We will miss Mom.  But Mom had a full and rewarding life and it was good to see so many people in agreement with the notion that Mom was a remarkable woman.

Back in Bonaire (Under Water) — January 7 – February 23, 2019

Here are some of the underwater photos taken so far in 2019.

Back in Bonaire (Part Two) — January 17- February 9, 2019

Erik Robb and wife Cindy came to visit for a week in the middle of January.  They had planned on doing a substantial amount of diving (Cindy having gotten certified on their last visit) but Cindy arrived with a cold that persisted for their entire stay.  So the two of them had to mostly be content to snorkel, which they did a lot of. Coincidentally, I had a cold as well, so it was Barb who finally took a dive with Erik when it became evident that Cindy would never be able to make bubbles.  Barb reports that Erik, despite his relative lack of underwater experience, did a fine job.

The couple make lovely guests.  Relaxed, helpful , appreciative and adventurous. For example, near the end of their stay we all went to Jibe City where Cindy took windsurfing lessons.  On another occasion, Erik and Cindy dove and jumped off the top deck of Tusen Takk II.

When a Disney Cruise Ship was in town, Megan and Murray Zook spent a few hours with us.  Megan is the daughter of Barb’s cousin Tom, which makes her a cousin once removed, if we understand the labeling scheme.  It was nice to meet for the first time another relative.

For the third consecutive year we participated in the annual Lora Parrot Count.  This year we were assigned to the Fontein rookery which was near Rincon.  My partner was Laura Koop, since Barb was suffering from an irritated Achilles tendon that prevented her from ascending to the dramatic observation point.  Michael & Roberta (with whom we shared a ride aboard Wanda the faithful pickup) were assigned to an observation point nearby.  Barb had to observe from the back of Wanda.  We counted an amazing 250 parrots, the highest number in the survey.  The total count for the island was a whooping 1,153 – the highest in the 24 years they have been counting Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrots. 

We had scouted the location during daylight several days earlier, since on the day of the survey we were required to be on station BEFORE the sun came up.

Pat had a number of us over for the super bowl, during which we enjoyed an extended “Mexican” meal. 

In Other News …

Back in Bonaire — November 5, 2018 – January 16, 2019

It has been an unusually busy time for us in Bonaire this year. On our trip over to Bonaire from Curacao we discovered that our auto pilot had stopped working after performing flawlessly for us since our purchase in 2005. Careful checking of connections revealed no explanations. Attempts to reinitialize the flux gate compass (by navigating in circles while in setup mode) were unproductive. We ordered another compass and had it sent to my nephew for a delayed delivery when he and his wife would come to visit in January.

I spent a number of days restoring the varnish on the cap rails after an unavoidable period of neglect over the six months while we were on our RV in the States over the summer.

My 99-year old mother developed serious health problems that required virtually 24/7 attention. My sister Zona, with whom Mom lives in Bismarck, North Dakota, was understandably feeling stressed-out and overwhelmed. So Barb caught a series of flights and spent 10 days lending a hand. She left only when some of Zona’s children were able to serially arrive from Minneapolis to help Zona celebrate Christmas, and perhaps more importantly, help with Mom. Barb had not purchased round-trip tickets due to the uncertainty of when she could return. When she attempted to get the tickets she found that there were no immediate flights available to Bonaire because of the volume of holiday travel. She was finally able to return on Christmas day to Curacao where she could catch a puddle jumper back to her lonely husband.

Mom’s condition has been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride. Periods of improvement followed by setbacks that leave her too weak to get up by herself at night. So she is sometimes in her own room in her own bed at night, and other times sleeping in Zona’s room.

While Barb was gone I celebrated my birthday at lunch with friends Paulein & Gary and Jason & Laura at Donna & Giorgio’s, one of our favorite Bonaire restaurants. No German chocolate cake this year (but I did have two desserts).

Our Dutch vegetarian friend Paulein – keeper of our pickup Wanda when we are not on the island – had us over for a Christmas turkey, prepared by Canadian omnivore Gary. Roberta & Michael (Celilo) – co-owners of Wanda and Laura and Jason (Blue Blaze) – were also guests. Originally planned as a mid-day meal, our hosts graciously delayed the feast so that Barb could attend.

On December 30 daughter Nellie and her husband Michael flew in from Atlanta, joining us for a week aboard Tusen Takk II. They became enthusiastic snorkelers who pored over our fish ID books to learn the names of the creatures they had seen. Of course we also did a tour of the south end of the island, stopping at Salt Pier, the Slave Huts, Kite City, and Jibe City. And we watched New Year’s fireworks from the superb viewing station that is the upper deck of Tusen Takk II, enjoying 240 degrees of fantastic pyrotechnics for well over an hour.

In other news Barb and Roberta and Laura all participated in a  Clean Coast Bonaire “beach cleanup”.  Three beaches have been chosen, and once a month volunteers go to one of them and pick up all of the trash. The purpose is not so much to clean the beach (although that happens as a consequence) as it is to meticulously count and categorize the litter with the goal of monitoring trends of pollution. 

We continue to use Wanda to go out to lunch or dinner and to attend the monthly wine tastings, and we often find ourselves at Gio’s gelateria.

TT2’s Xantrex Freedom 25 inverter/charger failed one day, continuing to invert but no longer charging.  So we had a new Magnum Pure Sine Wave inverter/charger sent in.  I installed that, and subsequently realized that I also wanted the remote control, and so had that sent in.  And then realized I wanted the battery monitor to get full information and control, and had that sent in.  We are now happily monitoring and controlling our inverting and charging. The new inverter seems to be much more efficient than the old, so we are quite pleased.

Curacao Commissioning — November 5 – December 5, 2018

We spent an entire month in Curacao this year, arriving on November 5, on a flight from Savannah via Miami to Curacao, and departing on TT2 for Bonaire on December 5, the longest commissioning time we had ever spent getting the boat ready.  Why so long?  Basically because projects required ordering “stuff” from the USA that took a couple of weeks to arrive in Curacao.  What projects? Our 20-gallon water heater was leaking; it needed replacing. The generator had been running just a little warm of late; the usual suspects appeared to be innocent, so it was time to remove and check the heat exchanger.  When I got it out, the chambers were clean!  But alas, one of the ends was damaged (maybe by me, during the removal.)  So we were forced to wait for the delivery of a new heat exchanger and a new water heater. So what caused the minor over-heating problem.  Not sure.  But replacing the heat exchanger had necessitated partially draining the coolant, so when the exchanger was finally installed, I completely drained the coolant, flushed the system, and replaced the coolant with fresh and new.  That seemed to solve the problem.

The wait for parts was not leisurely, however.  I spent days and days cleaning and painting the bilges.  Maybe weeks.  Seemed like months. (There is a lot of bilge in a Krogen 48 North Sea.)

And then there were the usual tasks.  Removing and cleaning the through-hull covers in preparation for painting. Using an angle-grinder to thoroughly clean the prop and rudder. Applying the outrageously expensive PropSpeed to the propeller, a fussy and exacting process that requires a two-person application team.  (Barb and I have gotten pretty good at it, but don’t eavesdrop while we are working at it; we sound as if we are on the cusp of a disaster.)

But all was not work.  We had delightful dinners with Maggie & Al (Sweet Dreams) and Paulette & John (Seamantha).  Heather & Don (Asseance) were in the Marina when we arrived; it was good to catch up with them.  Barb and I walked up to Rodeo Bar & Grill for dinner many many times; their ribs are second only to the home-made perfections created by Bill (nee Dolce Vita). 

Perhaps the most interesting gastronomic experience was the Thanksgiving dinner we attended with Laura & Jason (Blue Blaze) and Sabrina & Tom (Honey Rider).  Someone saw an advertisement of an American Style Thanksgiving dinner to be held at the Rif Fort in Otrobanda.  Reservations were required; one seating only; 60 persons max at a long table family style; payment in person required in advance.  

We arrived early, and settled in for drinks on a balcony on the east side of the Fort overlooking the St. Anna Bay and the pontoon swing bridge; there we were treated to the sight of the full moon rising over the city.  When we made our way to the dinner venue on the upper inner wall on the west side of the Fort, we were surprised to find the long table wasn’t so long and accommodated only 32.  Our hostess explained that the dinner was conceived as a means to publicize the various eateries in the Fort and its immediate surroundings.  Consequently, each separate establishment would be delivering samples of their fare, and our hosts would bring them out one at a time.  Apparently, the quantities had never been adjusted from 60 to 32, for each serving was enormous.  Apparently, there were MANY such establishments, because there were MANY servings, and they were eclectic!

Here are some of the servings: a complementary serving of Prosecco, and then sushi, two types of pizza, mashed sweet potatoes, pork chops, grilled fish, green salad, small hamburger sliders, french fries, pumpkin soup, a small steak, and  breads.  (And I think I have forgotten some.) And then the finale:  brussel sprouts, stuffing, and roasted turkeys, brought to the table whole and uncarved and as brown and as pretty as you please!  We six Americans (the only non-locals in attendance) almost swooned!  (Although that may have been because by that time we were all VERY full.)  We had to ask for someone to come back and do some carving, an operation we watched with considerable amusement. We had been promised cranberry sauce and one of us asked about that. Apologies were given and then a triumphant and proud return with the strange garnish that those goofy Americans insist upon when they consume those strange birds.  There soon followed puzzled looks on the faces of the six Americans. The “cranberries” each had a single hard sizable pit!. And the “sauce” bathing the berries tasted a good bit like cherry pie filling!  Some among us opined that the berries were pomegranates, but I know better, having consumed gallons of pomegranate seeds when visiting my sister Zona, who likes pomegranate seeds A LOT.  And they don’t have big pits. My guess as to the berry?  Dunno.

Dessert was apple pie served with heaping bowls of various flavors of ice cream.

The launch of Tusen Takk II was mostly routine.  Curacao Marine does a good job.  But the launch ramp was slippery from an earlier rain, and so TWO tractors were used to ease the trailer into the brine.

So we had a productive time in Curacao, but it is good to be in Bonaire.  See our next post.