Internet Access in Cuba

December 12, 2016
Internet access in Cuba

Since I was here two years ago, the internet situation has changed. In 2014, it would cost between $7 and $10 for an hour of internet access. Now it only costs $2. At first it seemed like a great thing, but we are learning the hard way that getting an internet card is even more difficult than before.

The hotel we went to in Havana wanted to charge us. $5 because we weren’t guests. We declined. Then we stood in line for about 40 or 50 minutes only to be told as we arrived at the door that there were no more cards available. The access is so popular that line-ups are long; and access cards are in short supply.

Today, as we stood in line, we politely refused to buy a card from a guy in the street for $3, but after an hour in the line-up we gave up and decided to go to a hotel where we could buy a card for $2 and sit in a comfortable lobby with a beer while we checked our mail. So after paying $4 for a taxi to get to the hotel, we were informed that they had run out of cards!

Swallowing our pride after supper tonight, we went back to the main square thinking we might find someone selling cards for $3, but the guy must have made enough money today to take the evening off…

All this means that I have not checked my email since I was in Florida on December 8th… four days ago. It seems like an eternity.



How we handle disappointment says a lot about us, I suppose. Life is too short to dwell upon our disappointments, but I must let you know that the boat I was to sail the Caribbean this winter was a complete mess.

Not only had the owners tried to move their 3000 square foot home into their 43 foot boat, but they neglected to install many, if not most, major systems needed for sailing. Also, they had not kept her is shape during the years they owned her. They invited four persons to come on as crew; unfortunately three had no sailing experience, and I have very little, none of it on blue water. We also found out that they don’t have much experience either, at least, much less that they let on. Needless to say we felt mislead.

So… after working 12 to 14 hour days for one week trying to get the boat ready, we left the marina in Kemah for Galveston which is directly on the Gulf of Mexico. It was raining, the boat was leaking all over Geoff’s bed and galley counters. The captain, could not see the navigational buoys very well, and decided to turn back after only 30 minutes. That was a very good decision, as he had not installed the navigational lights yet! We would have been sailing an unlit boat in very busy waters after dusk.

The next day, all the crew decided to abandon the ship. We didn’t have confidence in the captain or the boat.

We rented a car and drove to Florida. Patrick and Jessie went to his parents’ place. Geoff and I headed for Fort Lauderdale to hang out, before heading off to Cuba where we plan to help a friend build a house and visit the eastern end of the island.

After that, I hope to go diving in Mexico, and maybe find another boat to sail on… Time will tell.
Wish me luck.

Small towns and beaches


Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

In an interesting change of roles, I have been the guest of Frida, a young woman who was my guest many years ago when she was only ten. Frida came to Canada to practise her English: she went to summer camp with my daughter, she caught poison ivy, she travelled out west by car with us; she marvelled at the “snow” when we crossed the glaciers between Jasper and Banff.

This past weekend, it was I who rode in the back of the van to Manzanillo. Frida and her husband, Ricardo, stopped in Comala on the way to have breakfast. We found a charming place on a side street, overlooking a lush ravine, which served some delicious Mexican breakfast dishes: chilaquiles, sopes, frijoles, fresh juices, and café, of course.


On the beach in Manzanillo and in Malaque, we snacked on fresh pineapple, jícama, cucumber, and shrimp all laced with chile and lemon. We drank green coconut water and beer in the shade of big parasols and cooled off in the beautiful waters of the Pacific.

On the way back to Guadalajara, we stopped in Sayula, a pretty town which specializes in making knives, cajeta (dulce de leche), sweet pastries and empanadas, and birria. It is also the birthplace of the author and photographer, Juan Rulfo (1917-1986).


Ismael Vargas, artist from Guadalajara (1947)

Enjoyed an exhibit of works by Ismael Vargas at the art gallery of the University of Guadalajara. Here are some of my pics. The one above is a photo taken for the University of Guadalajara by Israel Rivera for the opening of this show, “Redimiendo el vacio”.

Revisiting Guadalajara

The corn gods
The corn gods
The Cathedral in Zapopan
The Cathedral in Zapopan

Usually when we visit, we see various family and friends of Eduardo’s. And each time it is a pleasure. I feel welcome, even when I am here alone.

This time, I came here specifically to have some dental work done. The dentist came recommended by a friend’s son who is also a doctor, a plastic surgeon at that! The dentist is his cousin’s boyfriend. That is the way to do it in Mexico. The dentist is giving me wonderful care, probably the best I have ever had. He even text messaged me to see how I was doing after a rather complicated extraction.

Last night I had pozole with our cousin’s family. Then they sang Las Mañanitas to me before serving the delicious Tres Leches birthday cake. It was the first time anyone had sung this beautiful Mexican birthday song for me. Plus it was my fourth birthday celebration this year!

A side square in Zapopan
A side square in Zapopan

Today, I bit the bullet and decided to visit a new part of the greater metropolitan area. So, via light-rail/metro and bus I went north to visit the art gallery in Zapopan. This part of the city feels like a small town. There is a traditional central square, and a market a block off the main street.

It felt miles away from the bustle of Guadalajara. The sun was shining brightly which is a relief after almost a week of cool rainy weather. The cathedral had a scattering of people praying, one woman working her way forward on her knees. No tourists in sight, except me of course, but everyone is friendly and helpful giving me directions to the gallery, the food at the food stands, and then to the market to get some fresh vegies for supper.

The gallery MAZ had four different rooms each with modern art exhibits. The first one left me rather baffled. Entitled La Gravedad de los Asuntos (The Gravity of Things punning on the word gravity.) There were poems and drawing on relativity and other scientific theories; I felt more than a bit lost. Fortunately, there was a fun video: Mexican artists and astronauts at a Russian research station had fun with the Russians breaking a piñata in a zero gravity chamber.

The astronauts trying to break the piñata.
The astronauts trying to break the piñata.

They also showed a full-length video entitled Bienvenidos a Nueva America, 2014. An incredible story of some landless people who are trying to resettle around an old open-pit mine in the desert of Peru. I can’t find more background information on this act of defiance. If anyone knows, please let me know.

Enough! I am going to make supper for my dear friends who are hosting me.

P.S. I just learned how to do hyper-links. I hope you enjoy following up on some of them.

Gathering a reading list for the Caribbean

Reading list for the Caribbean

Beside buying some books for the boat and taking some with me, if my bags don’t weigh too much, the following books have been recommended and have seemed interesting to me.

Books bought so far and sent on ahead to the boat.

Birds of Mexico and Central America: (Princeton Illustrated Checklists)
Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew, by Lin Pardy
Reef Fishes Corals and Invertebrates of the Caribbean : A Divers Guide
A Guide to the Coral Reefs of the Caribbean by Mark D. Spalding, Corinna Ravilious

Discover Caribbean Islands by Ver Berkmoes, R. (A Lonely Planet Guide)

Birds of the West Indies by Arlott, Norman

Taste of the Pacific by Parkinson, Susan, Stacey, Pegy, Mattinson, Adrian


From my friend Jean: Dionne Brand’s novels, (At the Full and Change of the Moon ) they are well worth it.  She is Canadian – has won the GG’s award for poetry.  I knew her when she was a CUSO volunteer in Grenada, and go to hear her at Writers Festival events, when she’s in Ottawa. Jean also gave me a copy of An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanerhoof.

From my ex-student Melanie and friends.

Melanie: Anything by Dionne Brand

Janice: Definitely House for Mr. Biswas. Also Earl Lovelace, the Dragon can’t dance.

Gisele: An Embarrassment of Mangoes about sailing in the Caribbean and
Don’t Stop the Carnival..Herman Wouk
Cereus Blooms in the Night ..Shani Mootoo
Salt… Earl Lovelace  and The Lunatic…also Anthony Winkler

Kathryn: House for Mr. Biswas. V.S Naipaul

Dominic: The Painted Canoe. Anthony Winkler

Julia: all of Anthony Winkler books; Miguel Street for all its short stories.

Keon: Wide Sargasso Sea- Jean Rhys and Black Midas- Jan Carew

Ranolph: This is the dark time, my love, by Martin Carter (Guyana)

Simone: The White Woman on The Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey

Tara: Child of the Tropics – Yseult Bridges

Winnie: Small island was amazing!

Lisa: The ventriloquist’s tale by Pauline Melville

From the internet:

  1. Mutiny on the Bounty” by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
    The story on the most famous mutiny in the history of seamanship was published in various versions and each of them is equally interesting and thrilling. The book tells a story about a fearless captain Bligh and the mutiny aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty on 28 April 1789. Captain Bligh was set afloat on a 23-foot open boat along with loyal sailors, equipped only with a quadrant and a pocket watch. In next 47 days he managed to sail 3,618 NM to Timor in the Dutch East Indies. The real reason of the mutiny is still disputable and discussed on multiple conferences by international experts throughout the following decades while everyone who intends to sail must know the story of Captain Bligh.
  2. Sailing Alone around the World” by Captain Joshua Slocum
    Captain Joshua Slocum is the first man to sail single-handedly around the world. This statement tells enough for itself so there is no explanation needed why this book is on this list. His last voyage took place in 1909 aboard his beloved “Spray”, when he was lost at sea, intending to explore the Orinoco River, Rio Negro and the Amazon.
  3. Three Ways to Capsize a Boat” by Chris Stewart
    Your knowledge about sailing probably would not be improved but you could definitely increase your appreciation of the many adventures you come across while sailing. The book tells the author’s memoirs of the events that happened after he agreed to captain his friend’s boat in the Mediterranean without any previous sailing experience. The author’s humor and hilarious situations will make you laugh; and make you ask yourself what kind of person one must be to take such actions as described in this book. Fortunately, the author survived all his journeys and told us the story in first person.
  4. Sailing: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail” edited by Patrick Goold
    This book consists of 15 essays on sailing. The editor is a philosophy professor while almost all of the authors of these essays are sailors. You should read this book if you are a reader, thinker or a sailor; in order to find out some thoughts about why we love sailing so much, why it involves a deal of danger, is it spiritual or aesthetic or transcendent experience, etc. This book will make you think introspectively and you would probably find some answers on the questions you did not have courage to ask yourself yet…
  5. Wildtrack” by Bernard Cornwell
    The author very skillfully blends the sailing dimension with the traditional aspects of the thriller novel putting the narration in the mouth of a perfect sailor-hero. The main character literally just wants to sail away from his routine but finds himself in the thrilling situations involving intrigue, love, action, bad guys and good guys… This book refers to the typical reading for relaxed sailing trip, especially if you don’t like to be involved in the navigation and route planning too much.
  6. Circle of Bones” by Christine Kling
    This time the author leads us in the middle of the adventure of seeking for a submarine sunk in World War II. I recommend this book to all that like to ‘sail away’ in their thoughts and experience a modern version of a treasure hunt. Unlike almost all novels written on a similar pattern, the story is about the lady who leads us through the adventures. Our perfect sailor-hero is female, Maggie Riley, an ex-Marine, who sails her 40-footer into the Caribbean…
  7. Voyages of a Simple Sailor” by Roger D. Taylor
    It is a collection of three autobiographical narratives by the British sailor Roger Taylor. He tells us about almost five decades of his life at sea. He highlights his key voyages expressing his thoughts about traditional seamanship, independence, and self-reliance – ‘qualities that to many seem increasingly lost in today’s high-tech, equipment-focused world of sailing.’
  8. Love with a Chance of Drowning” by Torre DeRoche
    A girl that is afraid of water and has never sailed finds herself aboard a small sailing boat along with a guy that follows his dreams. Apparently, the love occurred when those two met and how this all happened and ended is written in this adorable true story. Since the narrator has no previous sailing experience this book brings us totally different perspective of sailing, unlike the books written by the ‘old sea lions’.

_Hostage: A Year at Gunpoint with Somali Pirates_ by Paul and Rachel Chandler with Sarah Edworthy. Liveaboards Paul and Rachel Chandler, who sail a 38-footer, Lynn Rival, might as well be that cruising couple a few docks over. You know—the pair you’ve known for years. But they have a miraculous adventure story to tell. Hostage is a fascinating, no-frills account of being attacked and held captive by Somali pirates for over a year. This raw, cautionary tale illuminates the reality of life-threatening situations and reveals how the couple survived and existed in bizarre confines. It’s a page-turner worth jumping into from the safety of your own cabin—far, far away from the coast of Somalia.
-Sydney Rey

Cornell’s Ocean Atlas: Pilot Charts for All Oceans of the World by Jimmy and Ivan Cornell Seasoned voyagers know that pilot charts—the month-by-month analyses of winds and currents, rendered in easily understood “wind roses” that depict the strength and directions of each—are one of the most valuable tools for passage planning. The problem, according to author and routing guru Jimmy Cornell and his globe-girdling son, Ivan, was that much of the data in existing pilot charts, in these days of ever-changing worldwide weather patterns, had grown outdated.

With the publication of Cornell’s Ocean Atlas, that’s no longer the case. By employing the latest technology and weather information compiled via satellite over the last two decades and by quadrupling the number of roses on their clearly illustrated collection of transoceanic charts, the Cornells have not only updated a valuable resource but also substantially broadened it. For more background info, visit their website.
-Herb McCormick

Gib’s Odyssey: A Tale of Faith and Hope on the Intra-coastal Waterway by Walter G. Bradley (2011; Lyons Press. Gib Peters, a man who was diagnosed with A.L.S., or Lou Gehrig’s disease, at the age of 67, is determined to beat death. His true story will have you thanking your lucky stars as he sets off on a single-handed cruise from Key West to New York to test his character against all odds. Bradley, a neurologist, chronicles Gib’s six-month voyage through the sailor’s emails to friends and family as his mind stays sharp but his body slowly deteriorates. Meanwhile, the hardship and hilarity he encounters aboard his 29-foot powerboat, Ka Ching, easily drowns out the hum of his engines. Gib will have you laughing, crying, and hugging your loved ones a little tighter. But most important, he’ll inspire you to throw off those dock lines and take on life with everything you’ve got, whether via power or sail.
-Sydney Rey


_Street’s Guide to the Cape Verde Islands_ by Don Street Jr. Don Street’s guides are the gold standard, especially when it comes to venturing off the beaten path, and this is one of his best efforts. It’s vintage Street: highly opinionated, fiercely passionate, and totally comprehensive. It has everything you need to know, plus valuable information on downwind cruising rigs and useful details once you reach your destination in the eastern Caribbean. Of particular interest are the sections on clearing in and provisioning.

If you like your nautical literature penned by the light of a swaying kerosene cabin lamp, this is the book for you. What’s amazing isn’t that Don was my favorite guidebook writer when I was a teenager, but that he continues to be today, when I’m in my 60s. They don’t make ’em like Don anymore. Five stars. -Cap’n Fatty Goodlander

_Last Lights: The Hand Wound Lighthouses of the Bahamian Islands_ by Annie Potts Annie Potts paints an intimate portrait of the islands and its people through her personal interaction with the keepers of the last three kerosene-burning, hand-operated lighthouses in the world. The book delivers much more than the title alone suggests, including striking photography, and will enrich the experience of all who sail upon these challenging waters.

_Here We Are: The History, Meaning, and Magic of GPS_ by Jim Carrier If you use or have been exposed to GPS—and who hasn’t, these days?—put this short, informative, and entertaining book on your “must read” list. Carrier, a renowned sailor, writer, and filmmaker, uses his storyteller’s skills to relate the history and evolution of GPS, the politics involved in same (including how it nearly didn’t happen), and an explanation of the technology in terms even self-proclaimed technophobes can understand.

“I believe,” he says, “that 50 years from now, historians will place GPS on the short list of inventions, alongside the clock, electricity, and the Internet, that are truly indispensible.” The same could be said for this well-focused and eminently readable
nugget of a book.
-Lynda Morris Childress

_Cooking Aboard A Small Boat—Feeding the Small-Boat Sailor_ by Paul Esterle Appropriately, this entire volume is devoted to the heart of any vessel, large or small—the galley, including the self-described “meat” of the book, 55 pages of satisfying, one-pot-or-pan (or bowl or cup) recipes targeted at preparation aboard a small boat. There are helpful tips on stoves and fuels, storage, tools and utensils, and shelf-stable food products. It’s a must for any trailerable-boat sailor who doesn’t want to eat like one.
-Lynda Morris Childress__

_The Sacrament of Sail: Finding Our Way_ by Matts G. Djos with Jeanine J. Djos If you’re one of those who thinks sailing is a rich man’s sport, this book will change your mind. Don’t let the title fool you. This isn’t a religious tome, but a collection of heartfelt accounts by a lifelong-sailing couple of adventures on the lakes and coasts of the central and western U.S. in a succession of older, small boats. The well-written narratives reflect the authors’ magnificent obsession with sail. To paraphrase them: It all lies before you. All you must do is find a way, search out a sea, and set sail. For starters, pick up this book.
-Lynda Morris Childress

_Sequoiah Speeds: Memoir of a Family Afloat___ by Helen S. Warren Reluctant first mates, particularly females, will find this account of a cruising sabbatical—in which a South Carolina family takes an Endeavour 32 across the pond and back for a yearlong European adventure—both educational and informative. The author, who set out because it was her husband’s passion but admits that she’s now caught the “sailing disease,” has chronicled the cruise and day-to-day life aboard with a pre-teen and an early teen. This well-written tale is informative reading for any family considering doing the same thing.
-Lynda Morris Childress

_Family Aweigh—They Lived the Dream___ by Michael Holt  It’s rare to find a nautical writer who can successfully combine good prose with laugh-out-loud wry humor, and Michael Holt succeeds brilliantly in this tale of an English family, including three teenage kids, who decide to change their lifestyle by chucking their land lives to go cruising. It doesn’t matter that their vessel of choice, Jernica (a name derived from combining the childrens’ names), is a motoryacht—the cruising trials, tribulations, and rewards are the ones that sailors know, and you’ll laugh as you enjoy every word of this family’s adventures seeking and finding a boat and their subsequent romp through the Med.
-Lynda Morris Childress

_Usborne Spotter’s Guide: Flags of the World _by William Crampton Before leaving U.S. waters, we rarely had the opportunity to puzzle over the national identity of boats we encountered. Now we seem to consult our flag book daily to identify neighbors in our anchorages.-Jan S. Irons

Weather: An Introduction to Clouds, Storms, and Weather Patterns These works help answer questions about clouds overhead or triple rainbows, among others. The format of Instant Weather Forecasting juxtaposes a full-page photo of a cloud with a chart listing the weather trends and timing associated with that cloud, including wind, visibility, precipitation, temperature, and barometric pressure.
-Jan S. Irons

Weather Predicting Simplified: How to Read Weather Charts and Satellite Images by Michael Carr This is the best reference manual for weatherfaxes, surface-analysis charts, and wind/wave charts that we’ve come across. Written by a licensed captain who’s also been a professional weather router for world voyagers, it’s useful for understanding weather forecasts, identifying unrecognized symbols on surface-analysis and wind/wave charts, and providing basic information necessary for learning to predict weather.
-Jan S. Irons

Backyard Stars: A Guide for Home and the Road ($5; 1998; Klutz). This book answers such general questions as “What is that bright star?” Skies in the tropics are so dazzling that you’ll want to know where and when to spot planets, stars, meteor showers, and comets so you can relax on deck and take in the heavenly show.-Jan S. Irons

Get Rid of Boat Odors: A Boat Owner’s Guide to Marine Sanitation Systems and Other Sources of Aggravation and Odor by Peggie Hall If the bilge perfume won’t go away, if you need a new head and don’t know which to buy, or if you don’t know when to replace your sanitation hoses, then this book is for you. We don’t need to refer to it as often as we refer to the others, but when it’s necessary, it instantly becomes the most important book aboard!

-Jan S. Irons
Atlantic Circle by Kathryn Lasky Knight This sailing classic, first published in 1985, is now available as an e-book. Sailing has come a long way in terms of technology and creature comforts since the author’s voyages more than 30 years ago with her husband, Chris Knight, aboard Leucothea, their Bermuda 30 ketch. Nonetheless, today’s readers, especially reluctant first mates—as the author initially was—will love Knight’s rendering of transatlantic adventures, which include coastal and canal sojourns in Scandinavia and Europe. Her razor-sharp wit, keen observations, and top-notch writing provide amusing entertainment at its best.

-Lynda Morris Childress
Matinicus – An Island Mystery by Darcy Scott  Sailor Darcy Scott has written a blockbuster novel that intertwines past and present on the Maine island of Matinicus. Seen primarily through the eyes of Gil Hodges, a hard-drinking visiting botanist, events unfold involving a 200-year-old journal, a restless ghost, clannish lobstermen, quirky locals, and a seductive female singlehanded sailor. All are interwoven in this tale of mystery and murder that will keep you turning pages till you reach an ending guaranteed to shock even diehard “whodunit” fans. Two more novels are in the works for an “Island Mystery” trilogy featuring the wry-witted Hodges. That’s good news, because this novel will leave you wanting more of the best male protagonist to come along since Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.
-Lynda Morris Childress
Across Islands and Oceans: A Journey Alone Around the World By Sail and By Foot by James Baldwin In the mid-1980s, the author set sail alone in his 28-foot Pearson Triton, Atom, on a circumnavigation that took him two years to complete. It was a no-frills voyage done on a lean budget, and it was accomplished the old-fashioned way, with good seamanship, including navigation by sextant and charts and few but the real sort of bells and whistles aboard. This is the well-crafted story of a young man’s voyage of self-discovery coupled with a desire to absorb and learn from the people and cultures he experiences. He finds friendship, love, and danger in this tale, whose only detriment is its lack of an epilogue. Readers can only hope that Baldwin will provide us with one in another finely written book about his subsequent sailing as well as land-based adventures.
-Lynda Morris Childress
South from Alaska: Sailing to Australia with a Baby for Crew by Mike Litzow The opening quote from Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim, “There is no life like the sea, where reality falls so short of romantic expectation,” is a fitting start for South from Alaska, a book that speaks to both sides of the brain simultaneously and without contradiction. Litzow, whose articles have appeared in CW, writes of the physical and emotional hardships of leaving it all behind and sailing from Alaska to Australia with his wife and 10-month-old child aboard Pelagic, a 25-year-old Crealock 37. He describes it in prose so beautiful, and with such a dose of self-deprecating comic relief, that you yearn to be there with them, forging ahead to realize a shared dream. And if I weren’t already cruising, his honest account would boost my own romantic notions of life at sea.
-Michael Robertson
MoonWind at Large: Sailing Hither and Yon by Matthew Goldman For those who love to relax and read while aboard and who delight in the humor of works like Farley Mowat’s The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float, this is next on your list. Goldman, an author and columnist, has compiled these essays, some previously published, others not, along with his thought-provoking illustrations. His writing is full of common sense.

As well, the adventures of the crew of Moon Wind, a 26-foot Chris-Craft Pawnee exploring the shores of southeastern New England in search of the mystical land of Mass, where they speak a different language, will keep you turning the pages.
-Rick Martell
A Comprehensive Guide To Marine Medicine by Eric A. Weiss and Michael E. Jacobs The authors, nationally recognized emergency medical doctors (Jacobs is also an experienced racing sailor), have honed this edition into a highly readable, practical, and insightful resource bursting with detailed advice about every possible physical malady, injury, and condition that can happen on and in the water. Advances in emergency communication, updated cardio-pulmonary resuscitation guidelines, how-to illustrations, and an expanded table of contents, index, and appendices make this manual a must-have.

-Elaine Lembo


1) Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

If you are looking for a page-turner with a story set in exotic places to awake your adventure spirit, Pirate Latitudes is the perfect book. Set in in 17th century’s Jamaica, in a far corner of the British Empire, the book tells the story of privateer Captain Charles Hunter, who plans to launch a risky attack on a nearby Spanish base, Matanceros. Buccaneers, deadly perils, hurricanes, cannibal tribes and even sea monsters will let you feel as a pirate searching for your gold.

2) The Swarm: A Novel of the Deep by Frank Schätzing

A contemporary story with an extraordinary, but plausible plot that will let you look at the sea as never before. A sensational series of natural disasters, two marine biologists and an entity in the ocean, are the main ingredients of this striking adventure. You’ll follow the characters trying to prevent the destruction of humankind; and you might find yourself wondering if that scary creature is under the catamaran you are on…


3) The old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway

Thanks to this book, Hemingway won a Nobel Prize for literature and a Pulitzer. Why? Because this short novel is a masterpiece, a perfect story, a timeless plot about beauty and humankind’s attempt to survive in the nature. In these few pages, not a word is too much. You can easily empathize with the protagonist, an old fisherman called Santiago, while you are sailing on hopefully not so tumultuous waters.

4) Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome

After all these serious books, Yacht + Yoga has chosen a masterpiece of humour in perfect British style. Initially intended to be a serious travel guide, the humorous elements took over the serious ones. The jokes are fresh and hilarious even today.


5) Sailing: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail by Patrick Goold

Sailing could be a spiritual and transcendental experience. During your trip, you could comtemplate a breath-taking sunset, stare at the horizon or feel the wind rippling through your clothes. Patrick Goold, a philosophy professor, collected 15 essays on sailing, written by sailors, telling us why navigating the sea, with all its perils, is a much loved affair.

On Mindfulness

8) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Santiago, a Spanish shepherd, one day finds the courage to follow his dreams and leave everything. He started a trip to far lands: during his journey, the people he met and the things he saw changed his life. While you are reading it on the Yacht + Yoga catamaran, you can be inspired by this enlightening book and find your inner peace.


9) Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Hanson Lasater

You do not have time, you have too many things to do, you cannot afford a yoga course or once a week is not enough for you? Judith Hanson Lasater sees everyday life as a way to practice familiar poses and breathing techniques. Reading Leaving Your Yoga it is possible to find your own everyday spirituality and fully enjoy yoga everywhere, whenever you want to or can, especially while you are sailing…

My Journey to Lhasa, Alexandra David-Neel (1927)

Tracks, Robyn Davidson (1980) (the woman who walked across Australian with 2 camels and a dog.)

In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez (about 3 women assassinated in the D.R. under Trujillo.)

The Spice Necklace: My Adventures in Caribbean Cooking, Eating, and Island Life by Ann Vanderhoof

Torre DeRoche published her love story, Love with a Chance of Drowning,

A Hundred years of Solitude 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho




Thinking about sailing

Going Sailing in the Caribbean
Well,l I should start with the offer to sail on “Our Joy” with Rockne and Pam Ragsdale of Dallas, Texas.
No, not really it should go back two years when I started taking sailing classes and racing two or three times a week at our local sailing club.
Maybe it goes back to the shemozzle I had with Cuso over my offer to volunteer in Peru.
Or to my love of travel and my fascination with the sea. Why did I ever learn to scuba dive when I was afraid to snorkel and even more uncomfortable swimming?
Back to 1975 when I sailed with four Peace Corps volunteers around the island of Santa Isabel in the Solomon Islands. .. Perhaps the seed was planted then.
Maybe my upbringing in the Canadian prairies gave me a longing for the ocean.
Wherever I got the bug, I have just accepted to spend the winter on an Endeavour 43, named “Our Joy” sailing around the Caribbean.
The owners, Rockne and Pam Ragsdale plan to leave Kemah, Texas on December first, 2016. I will be one of the crew, hopefully the least experienced.
Last winter as I travelled the length of Chile from North to South and then back again through Western Argentina to Mendoza, I felt sorry I hadn’t got to know the people of either country in any depth. That started me thinking of alternative ways of spending my winters.
Cuso came to mind: a volunteer organization that sends professionals to developing countries. I knew of a project they had in Peru helping disadvantaged youth find work. So I applied and was accepted by the main office here in Ottawa. Unfortunately for me, the local organization chose someone else. The same thing happened with the job in Bogota, Colombia, and again in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Fed up, other possibilities came to mind. House-sitting, for example, might be interesting except that everyone wants you to look after their precious dogs, cats, goats, and horses. How can a person even explore the neighbourhood when you have to give Puss his medication three times a day? And Rex needs to be walked morning and evening.
Crewing on a sailboat has always intrigued me, but I didn’t want to be someone’s captive mistress for weeks on end. Many of the skippers looking for crew should actually write “screw”; they are so pathetic.
Fortunately, while looking at all these forlorn offers, Rockne and Pam’s ad caught my eye. We had a skype interview, and the discussion began. First impressions were good. Their itinerary is excellent. Texas across the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba, then to Cozumel, Roatan, The Cayman Islands, Jamaica, The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and then into the West Indies. Who could ask for a better way to spend a winter?
It will be a steep learning curve for me never having sailed on the ocean except as a guest and cook. I hope to learn a lot about sailing, about looking after a boat, about astronomy, weather forecasting, local birds, fish and coral. Diving will be a frequent pastime. Learning to cook in a moving vessel, exploring the local foods, baking bread, sprouting lentils and other seeds, and making yogurt will stretch my cooking skills. Socializing with other yachties and hopefully locals will occupy many evenings while anchored. During the day, we will explore the islands, climb the trails, and learn as much as we can about the local culture, history, food, and people.
During quiet time, reading, writing, exercising, and meditating will fill up the gaps when I am not otherwise occupied. While on watch, I will practise knots and listen to music, practise my navigation skills and learn about celestial navigation and the ways of the seas in general.
Wish me luck, my friends. I am excited, nervous, and just a bit scared!