Monday, 28 November 2011

Emirates Winter


Emirates Winter from Lewis De Mesa on Vimeo.


Amazing how much I missed the UAE after watching this, the craziness, the natural beauty and especially Al Ain and Jebel Hafit. Check out the view over Al Ain at 25 seconds and 2 minutes 50 seconds. Enjoy, thanks for sharing Daniella.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Blackberry Stone

I love the way these two make music.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A rough ride

I had an interesting experience this weekend, one I debated about saying no to. I decided to say yes, I hadn't read the Caymanian Compass before I did. The story I've linked to is an interesting one, two Aussies sailing home and not making it past the Cayman Islands. They were right to seek shelter from the rough seas, not so well executed as they landed on the unforgiving reef.

The unforgiving reef we had to negotiate in Blue Runner a day or so later as we sailed around to George Town to take part in the Pirates Week festivities. I didn't notice any of the wreckage going out. The wind was lovely, not the 2o plus knots promised. The waves were not so lovely, breaking fiercely on the reef. Big swells to break through to get to the open sea. It was tense on board.

A really big wave washed over the boat unexpectedly, we all hung on tight as the boat was swamped. Then another came and I lost my grip, thrown to the back and luckily caught by John who was sitting at the back. The waves washed over us, soaking us and filling the cockpit. Now Blue Runner is a J37, a rather large yacht that has been Bruce and his son Alex's home from time to time. Plenty big enough for open water sailing. Luckily more than a match for the waves as we broke through out into the Caribbean Sea.

I was soaked to the skin, a bit battered and bruised, and really pleased to have stayed on board. We rode the swells for a while, really big swells and white water. Choppy and unpredictable with some strong wind gusts. Once I got over my initial fright, it was exciting! Riding the crest and dipping into the troughs, sitting on top and looking down into air before we gracefully rode the wave. It was a bit nerve wracking in places but too soon we were in calm water and heading to our destination, a safe mooring in George Town Harbour.

The cardboard boat race was the draw for Alex, very exciting when you're 8 years old. I got to have a much needed swim and chill on the boat with others where we could watch the race while sampling the refreshments on board and swapping big wave stories. I had tennis tickets, the dingy didn't get back in time. Dinner was next and watching the Pirates Week closing fireworks, amazing fireworks over the harbour. Dancing in the streets followed, good music, good company until we sloped off, exhausted.

Next day was the return trip, I was a little worried. It was a much better sailing day, some exciting waves but not the choppy, unpredictable ones of the day before. Heading towards the reef we saw smelt diesel and saw some wreckage. The Plight, I found out later. It was surreal seeing the boat parts going past in the water, steering around them and looking for people. There were some big pieces. The trip into North Sound was much less eventful, thankfully and we were soon enjoying a beer at the mooring.

I was totally exhausted and slept well that night. My bruises are impressive, and I don't bruise easily. It was funny, one of the crew was from Regina in Saskatchewan. Same place that Mary-Anne is from. It's not that big apparently. He was wearing a Roughriders T shirt and was very surprised that I knew about the team and the place. A great conversation opener. Canadian's are such a nice bunch, very much like kiwis in their friendliness and their travel habits. I've met plenty here, all wonderful people I count as my good friends. 

Musing

I had a read back through some of my old entries and realised how boring I've become, writing not so much of the philosophical musing and more of the doing. As I sit here on a Wednesday evening contemplating my belly button, I was reflecting on times past and what has brought me to this place at this time. I have comments from people who think I'm courageous, Paulo Coehlo says that:

Courage does not mean the absence of fear, but the ability not to let yourself be paralyzed by that fear.


Life, 2007.

Many of the decisions I have made over the past few years have been possible because I moved past the fear and came to a place where, although I was fearful, I could make choices. A choice brought me to this beautiful place and the peace I have found being reconnected with the sea. Feeling at home on and in the waves. I believe that we are all in the right place and space to learn the lessons that life puts before us, right here, right now. It's just not so easy to recognise that at times, that takes courage.

So enough of the musing and onto an adventure. I may just have to pour myself a glass before I start on this adventure, it was surreal. A boat is most surely safest in port, and this weekend was proof positive of this. Of course, that's not what boats are built for.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Very scary

Now I know how that feels!

J22s at rest
I suspect this Leo has a water sign rising somewhere. I love being out on the water, I love being in the water. Not quite in the way I went swimming on Sunday, in the middle of a race. Unexpectedly, surprisingly. This weekend the weather was great for sailing, the North Sound had a good swell and the wind was mostly over 12 knots. Perfect for racing. On Sunday I raced on Yahoo.

We were doing okay when suddenly Yahoo pitched wildly and tipped over. We were about tack, over we went broaching. The dreaded B word Dave threw about as we sailed to the start. I did tell him to shush. I had very little to hold onto and missed my chance to swim on as the boat righted itself. There I was clinging to the side by my finger tips as we raced on. I managed to work my way around to the back then lost grip and ended up on my own in the water swimming after a fast retreating boat. 

Bruce and crew came around and got me, I managed to reach the side and work my way around to the ladder. Hauling myself up was interesting but there I was like a beached whale puffing in the bottom of the boat. It was not amusing, we were close to a 3rd and ended up at the back. Funnily enough, I had talked to others about the need to wear a life jacket, especially in lively winds. I decided not to on Sunday, it worked okay for me this time. 

After another couple of races we headed in shore to swap tales of racing and impromptu swims, there was a small amount of ridicule but at least I know what it feels like to broach and go overboard in the process. I also heard Amanda's story from the fore deck of being at a 90 degree angle and clinging on to very little to stay aboard. It was worth a rum or two. I was a bit sore, a few new bruises in unmentionable places.

The next day Jo, Didge and I went out again, this time I was fore deck for a while. I need the practice. The weather was perfect, a crew of three not four meant there was plenty of room and we played for a couple of hours. Until my arms ached from setting and gibing the pole, flying the kite and trimming the jib. See how many yachting terms I can fit into one sentence! I'm also not so useless as I was at the jobs that need to be doing. I can almost always manage a bow line knot. It looks odd because I do it back to front the lefty way but it works.

One of Saturday's floats
I had a great weekend, a good mix of fun, entertainment and exercise. I learnt some stuff, lots of lovely stuff and enjoyed the company of my friends. Today the festivities continued in town and Jo and I joined them for lunch. The cruise ships are amazing here, dwarfing the buildings and everything else as they berth just offshore. Two of these giants were in today, a treat for the passengers that George Town was so lively with the steel pans playing, stalls with local crafts and produce and pirates wandering around. All good fun.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Long weekends


It's a long weekend here and the beginning of Pirates Week. Pirates Week is huge here, a festival of music, dancing, parades, fireworks and of course pirates. November 14 is a public holiday, Remembrance Day, and so we have a long weekend to celebrate. What a fantastic celebration on Friday night, the best fireworks display I've seen in a while. Jane got some photos, I wisely left my camera at home. The evening was enjoyable, especially the people watching. It was a late one, lots of walking, eating and drinking.
One of Jane's photos
Saturday, we wandered down again and watched the pirates landing, a load of fun. The pirates poured ashore and we captured by the red coats after a battle. The whole community joined in, the streets and balconies over flowing with people and small children dressed in pirate costumes enjoying the party atmosphere.

Mmmm my photos are not wanting to load, I may add some more of the day's celebrations later.

I need to get ready, off out on the water for a play. After yesterday's racing, I'm a little sore. It was exciting, all will be explained in my next post. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Sailing away

Blue Runner, my first sailing experience here
The whole of Sunday, after a small sleep in, was spent at the sailing club. The wind was fine so we went on a training run with Simon helping with the finer points, well in my case all the points. I know so little and when I'm asked to work on the fore deck, I'm a little lost at times. Simon helped that showing me some useful ways that this small person with limited upper body strength could set the pole and hoist the spinnaker with minimum strain. I'm slow but getting there. It just takes a bit of practice, well lots of practice.

The bonus with Sunday is that I got to do something I am okay at. Jo, Didge and I went out on the Zodiac with Matt. He gave me a camera, a small happy snappy kind of camera. It was okay, there's a better one at the club said Matt. Let's get that. The better one was Nikon SLR, a much, much better one with a lovely long lens. I had fun, Matt drove us up to the good places to take pics and I, well, I took pics. Right in my element hanging off the side of the Zodiac making sure this special camera kept dry in all the spray.

It was such fun, and I'm pleased with many of the photos. Photos of the Lasers racing. The crews are all experienced with two Olympic level sailors so it was fun to watch. The kids joined in, very much part of this group of adults who support their sport. The post race discussions were interesting, no one waved the rule book all good fun. We shared a couple of pans of baked potatoes with sour cream and hot dogs, much needed after a long day on the water.

Close racing in the Laser fleet
I got a little burnt by that hot sun, just on the places where the sun screen missed. I now have an interesting mix of tan lines, brown legs and stripey bits everywhere else. I'm not one to lie in the sun, all my tan is from action so is not so even. I'm not bothered, my friends at work did comment on the really red bits. I promised to take more care next time. And next time is next weekend. I'm on Yahoo again in the winter series. It's also a long weekend here and Pirates Week so lots of fun. Dancing in the streets, parades and fireworks, I'll be there and I'll take my camera so watch this space.

A hectic start

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Simple really

It should be simple really, it was even in the UAE. Posting a few things home was not so simple in the Caymans. My morning went something like this.
At the Post Office:
Do you have posting boxes that I can post to New Zealand?
What do you mean?
You know boxes I can put a gift in to post
No, nothing like that
Okay, where can I but a box to post a gift in?
I don't know. Other customer who happened to be a work mate: Try Kirk Office
At Kirk Office:
After I had searched the posting isle, do you have boxes for posting?
No, nothing like that.
Where can I get a posting box?
Don't know try AL Thompsons, they have boxes
Al Thompsons:
You have these large boxes, do you have any smaller posting boxes?
What do you mean?
You know, small boxes for posting gifts in
No no nothing like that
Where can I buy something like that
Don't know, not sure
So, how do people post things from here then? A little exasperated.
Two ladies shrug their shoulders and look confused that I should want to do such a thing
Phone call to Jo:
Feeling a little frustrated, do you know where I can buy a box to post a few things to NZ in?
Yes (sigh of relief) Caymana Bay has a posting box shop.
Off I drive to Caymana Bay and there is a shop that sells boxes for posting and takes care of all your posting needs. So simple, a one stop shop with excellent service.
Parcel boxed, addressed and ready to go. That will be CI$61 please, that's about NZD90.  A small heart attack later, I pays me money and get the box and envelope on their way. Two to four weeks, Noah will have something from the Caymans to hang on his tree.
I suspect after my next two posting to Australia that I'll mail order all gifts, just may be easier and certainly less expensive.

My day got better, we went out sailing for the afternoon then a swim. The sea is still a little boisterous, a lot of fun.


Friday, 4 November 2011

November surprise

What surprised me today? It's November so it's hardly surprising that a scorpion decided to cross my path today for the first time here. One of us squealed, another put her foot down on said scorpion while the other of us wanted to take a closer look. That would be me. I picked up the squished but still wriggling critter with a dried leaf and took a look. The others were surprised at that. I put it outside while the others completed long shudders. Now if that was a spider.......

Here's some information on Cayman's scorpion populations. I'm not sure what type this one was, it was about six inches long and blackish, a bit like this one:

 


Scorpions

Since Hurricane Ivan, there have been increased sightings of scorpions on Cayman. As the hurricane and rising waters wrecked their habitiats, they have moved to new homes - often those already inhabited by humans! There are three species of scorpion found on Cayman: heteronebo caymanensis – an endemic species unique to Cayman; the most common,centruroides; and isometrus maculatus. There are no records of deaths from scorpion stings in the Cayman Islands, but scorpions should always be treated with respect, as even a non–fatal sting can be very painful. They like dark nooks and crannies - so give your shoes a shake before putting them on!


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Halloween

Opps, I forgot to stop on the way home tonight and stock up on sweets to give the trick or treaters. Halloween is not big on my list of occasions, it's not big in New Zealand therefore slips under my radar. The first lot of kids, a very cute 5 year old and his siblings got my last remaining, my only, emergency supply of dark chocolate. Reluctantly given because although I don't eat much in the way of sweet things, a piece of dark chocolate is what I fancy when I do.

So, I'm ashamed to say, I'm now hiding upstairs so those little ghouls will only find no one home not some lady with no sweets, I did wonder for a fleeting moment what might happen if I said trick, not treat. Do the kids actually have tricks? If so, what are they likely to be. Something I might not like I suspect. I think it might be safe to sneak down now and get something to eat. I kind of fancy a piece of chocolate, yummy dark chocolate.

Oh well, I shall just have to settle for the soup that's heating and hot toast. I've eaten well this weekend. Indian after sailing, Italian on Friday night and a pizza after the movies on Saturday night. There's plenty of variety here. Movies, Jane and I decided to go to a scary movie on Saturday night. The Dream House shorts were scary, the movie a mind bending experience. A thought provoking movie, I did miss a couple of bits when I hid under my pashmina. Jane laughed at me, I was just cold, alright.

We sat outside enjoying the kids playing in a fountain at Caymana Bay, a lovely development with boutique shops, bars and restaurants as well as the cinema and places for folks to hang out. I like it there, a very relaxed atmosphere. We were enjoying the music, Jane asked about the play list. It came from the managers i-pod, we realised why we liked it when we started singing along. Fat Freddies and Shapeshifter were key players. We laughed as we had a small taste of home, so far from our place.