Here we go again. This graphic's from a great weather site, wunderground.com.
For August, September and October, when storms are bigger, badder and more frequent, Alicia's belly will be big and bad as
well. She’ll be in no shape to make a
mad dash to Puerto Rico, and should the baby decide to come early, the
prospect of delivering it ourselves in a swamp during a hurricane is
too insane, even for us. And we would never consider leaving the boat anchored or tied
up unattended for a storm. So, we’ve
secured a spot for SARABANDE in dry storage at the Independent Boat
Yard, down in the east end of St. Thomas for these months. The
yard itself is located in a not-too-bad hurricane hole, and
they’ve got a number of ways of storm-proofing boats up on
land there. She’ll have her mast pulled to decrease
windage, which apparently does much to reduce your odds of sustaining
This is a good
enough plan that boat insurance companies will cover a boat properly
secured on land in this area (they will not cover boats in the
water). If, God forbid, the worst case scenario comes to pass and a direct hit
knocks poor SARABANDE over in the yard, the likely damage to the
toerail, lifelines and hull that would occur are repairs that we feel
we could likely make, given enough time and money. But the
damage she’d suffer from getting sunk during a storm
would be more than we could ever handle, and would break our hearts
besides. So, out of the water and up on stilts
the old girl will go! In the meantime, we’ll be
housesitting for a friend, just a short drive from the boat yard.
Bay of St. Thomas. The big cluster of boats is the Independent
Boat Yard, SARABANDE's home for August-November.
we’re going to worry ourselves silly those three months every
time a storm threatens, we’ll make the most of SARABANDE’s
time out of the water for SPA WEEK 2010, and we’ll be able to
tackle some major projects that would be impossible to do while living
aboard. SARABANDE’s not been out of the water since the
fall of 2008 in Oriental, NC, and she’s due for some much-needed TLC and
drying-out. We owe her big time for taking care of us so well!
In the midst of
all this plan-rearranging and scrambling, St. Thomas' annual Carnival
celebration rolled around. We always wondered what exactly
Carnival was, and we know that at least around here, it's a solid two
weeks of partying, with each day having a
different theme or focus. What
with all the pageants,
derbies, dancing in the streets, horse races, parades, musical
performances, Carnival is a huge deal! Schools, boutiques and
restaurants close their doors, and
the AM radio station covers each event so everyone working in town can
listen and participate.
As you can see from the photo, the surrounding land masses and shallow water are good natural barriers for dangerous high waves.
Get out your orange bras- it's carnival time! Photo from vicarnival.com
Catholic roots. Centuries ago in Italy, it became custom to have
a costumed evening of drunken debauchery just before Lent, one last
whopper of a party before all the fun had to stop for 40 days.
Because Catholics traditionally abstain from eating meat during Lent,
the Italians dubbed the party “carnevale” - literally
‘goodbye, meat’. The party got bigger and crazier
every year, and eventually other Catholics in Spain, France and
Portugal started having them every year, too.
As those same
Catholic countries began raiding the Caribbean, claiming territory, and
setting themselves up in the slave trading business, their settlers
brought the “Carnevale” tradition over with them.
After slavery was abolished, the party evolved to include some of the
African rituals of the freed slaves, as well as being a time for them
to celebrate their freedom.
Slave trade routes and the corresponding spread of Carnevale.
celebrations take place on islands all throughout the Caribbean and
South America, at different times
throughout the year, and they're a fascinating meld of the European and
African cultures that transplanted here, voluntarily or by force, so
long ago. And, true to the original purpose in Italy,
there’s still plenty of
These signs were posted all over the place. Maybe hundreds of years ago, just before Lent,
there were signs just like these posted in Italian towns?
In downtown Charlotte Amalie, vendors set up booths and tents to sell rum drinks, handmade
trinkets, and distinctly Caribbean dishes to the crowds, and every
night the party carried on late into the wee hours. The soca and
steel pan music could be heard for miles, and the breeze carried the
smell of fried fish, kallaloo soup, and spicy goat stew (known as 'goat water'). A crush
of private boats from from the surrounding islands, mostly Puerto
Rico and the British Virgin Islands, flooded the harbor and the streets were packed with people at all hours.
Look at the incredible coordination of this young boy, able to neatly pour soup into his mouth from arms' length
while outrunning a donkey and an angry lady! Lots of the food booths had cool artwork like this.
The Love City Pan Dragons, a steel pan youth orchestra from St. John,
performed at the Children's Parade. They are rad. (borrowed photo)
This man's booth was devoted to shots of liquors steeped with different bush herbs and spices,
said to have certain medicinal effects. Brian tried one, but didn't feel much healthier afterwards.
It’s like a state fair, the 4th of July and a college house party
attended by tens of thousands. For 14 days. The stamina of
these partygoers is incredible, and there’s nothing like standing
lamely next to an 80 year old woman who’s been dancing for three
days straight to make you feel like a wuss.
Sadly, the companies we work for did not shut down for Carnival, so we
were really only able to see the big parade and the fireworks display
that took place late on the last day.
The parade was a series of dance groups all outfitted to a certain theme,
and each had their own speaker truck to blast their routine's music.
Here's a lady in the proper carnival spirit.
This guy was, too; he was just pacing himself.
Here's the sort of 'mouth' of the parade, where the judges' booths were.
That's the local TV station's camera crane getting all the action.
All that dancing can make a person hungry! These ladies take a break to order up some flying fish.
end-of-carnival fireworks over the main harbor. We were lucky
enough to be invited to a home with a fantastic view to watch these.
Once Carnival was finished, town quieted way
down. Those two frenetic weeks were the finale of the busy
season, and now St. Thomas has settled into summer hibernation.
Resorts emptied out, the cruise ship schedule dwindled to
even fewer ships per week, the "winter only" people left for their
summer homes, and the famous multi-million dollar megayachts left the
marinas. Traffic has eased significantly, and prices in boutiques
took a big dip down. Many locals claim to relish this as their
favorite time of year here, since without the crowds of visitors, they
can enjoy the island's best spots all by themselves in peace and
As for us, we'll
need all the peace and quiet we can get! It’s going to be
a nail-biter of a summer, and we need your help.
Please, regardless of your spiritual bent, whatever it is you do
when you’re hoping for something (prayer, wishing on stars,
sending vibes out into the universe), could you please remember us
you’re doing it? We’ll be doing all of those things
in the hopes of keeping our baby healthy and our home safe over the
next months, and we’d love some back
Thomas Aquinas, a patron saint of safety from storms. Maybe he can help?
And here's good old Poseidon, looking like he's about to get up and go beat the crap out of somebody.
Maybe we should buy him a reasonably nice bottle of champagne?
belated birthday to Alicia's Pop Pop, who turned 97 on May 10th.
And a whole slew of people we love have birthdays in June, not to
mention Brian himself, who turns 32 on 6/2! There's Stuart
Mullen of our buddy boat BEANNACHT on 6/6, Arizona radio host
Johnson on 6/13, the lovely and talented Ms. Carly Lukas on 6/16, the
incomparable Tommy Collins, and feisty Ms. Alyssa Grinberg on 6/20, and
Alicia's wonderful Gran and childhood friend Tiffany on 6/27.
Whew! Happy birthday, everybody.
AMC and Pop Pop.
Alicia & Brian