Monday, November 12, 2018

Toss NOODLES into Salty Water

… and boil with enthusiasm for 45 minutes! 
Cindy Windmilling 2018 
(Photo by Auryte of sv Alka)
Noodling at Sea is a water aerobic program that was developed by a cruiser for cruisers.  Awilda “Willie” Haskins of sv Liahona organized the workout with help from a small female crew who desperately needed a daily cool down in the midst of their summer boat maintenance chores in 2010.   Word spread quickly and their numbers grew steadily, as their laughter danced over the anchorage.  In 2013, Willie published the program and made it available on

The program is designed to be as easy or as challenging as the individual chooses.  The idea is to just get in the water and keep moving at your preferred speed and intensity.  Willie cautions participants to drink plenty of water before and afterward and also warns, if an aerobic movement hurts, STOP doing it

Noodling is NOT gender or age restrictive.  Over the years, we have had children within our ranks and gentlemen who aim to stay fit.
Noodlers Pumping the Head in 2017
Newcomers will find some of the exercises simple, while others may be accompanied by a verbal explanation and a visual demonstration.  Willie’s crew dubbed various moves with names that are self-explanatory, such as Bicycling, Cross-Country Skiing, Spread Eagle, Side Step.  On the other hand, newbies may be intrigued by exercises like:  Frog, Twist, Chicken Noodle, Pull the Shade, Pump the Head, or J Lo.  During the sessions, a good amount of friendly banter is exchanged, especially during the last set when balancing ON the noodle is introduced.  Soon after, though, we Salute the Sun and are ALL DONE!
Saluting the Sun in 2018
(Photo by Auryte of sv Alka)
Here in Kralendijk, Bonaire, we have been gathering for Noodling sessions at 7am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please come out and give it a try.  We meet in the water off the Fishermen”s Dock.  Feel free to secure your dinghy to sv Tranquility (green hull). We have a limited number of extra noodles you can borrow, just ask.

Come for the workout…Stay for the laughs!

Side Stepping in 2018

Friday, November 9, 2018

sv EXIT STRATEGY Breaks Record

Believe it or not- it is just over eight years since Dan and I retired and moved onto the boat.  And EIGHT YEARS is a new record for us living in a home.  Previous to sv EXIT STRATEGY, the longest we lived in a dwelling was seven and a half years.  Many of you know that Dan was a special grades sales rep for various stainless steel mills based in the USA.  Over the years, his career took us to places we’d never been and to some we’d never choose to go.  However, we welcomed each with a fresh enthusiasm for a new adventures.

Then, in October of 2010, our retirement and transfer into the cruising lifestyle took us to places beyond our wildest dreams.  Cruising has been a good life for us and we are forever grateful that our family and friends have accepted and humored us through our abbreviated visits and sometimes seemingly mundane blogs.  

2 years:  2 bd. 1 bath apartment in Summit, IL 
Where I could walk to work as an LD Teacher and where our upstairs neighbors were occasionally frightfully loud. We learned that the neighborhood was nicknamed “Peyton Place”.

3.5 Years:  3 bd. 2 bath tri-level in Lockport, IL  
This was a new development with lots of families and both our babies were born here, although they don’t remember.  I had to get a driver’s license to commute 14 miles to work.

3.5 years:  4 bd. 2 bath 2-story garrison colonial in Nashua, NH 
New Englanders can be clannish, but we were welcomed warmly by all in this woodsy setting.  Plenty of children around, but our son’s best friend was a big black Lab named Dusty. 

3.5 years:  4 bd. 2.5 bath 2-story contemporary in Wheaton, IL
Glad to be back in the Midwest near family again and ensconced in another kid-filled area where babysitters were a dime a dozen.
Summer Home Visit 2013 029
                        Windjammer South Lane, Indianapolis, IN
5 years:  5 bd. 2.5 bath 2-story modern colonial in Indianapolis, IN 
Here we learned that there IS “more than corn in Indiana…”  We lived in this area the longest, but in three different homes.  The kids found a red-coated stray here that we adopted as our first family dog, Amazing Grace (aka, Gracey).   Our daughter began babysitting for a neighbor here and this part time gig financed her love for thoroughbreds, equestrian jumper competitions, and more!

6 months:  2 bd. 1 bath apartment in Fishers, IN  
Yes, two adults, two teens, and one small dog managed to somehow cohabitate here somewhat comfortably while our “DREAM HOUSE” was being built about a mile away from our previous home. 

7 years:  4 bd. 3 bath multi-level contemporary in Fishers, IN  
This home was well worth the six month wait in close quarters.  We designed every part of it and that made it a perfect fit for each of us.  This is where we worked together to erect a barn and bring our daughter’s horse home from the stable.  This is where our son’s punk rock band practiced and his buddies organized a “camp” in the woods.  This is the place our children claim as “home”- Indiana.  
Summer Home Visit 2013 032
Geist Road, Fishers, IN
6 months:  2 bd. 1 bath apartment in Springfield, MO 
By this time, both kids were in college, so Dan and I lived here with Gracey until we found the next house. 

3.5 years:  4 bd. 3 bath 2-story country estate in Springfield, MO
As “empty nesters” we didn’t need all this space, but we were sold on the 12+ acres along a river and the cave.  Dan bought and enjoyed two man toys here: a tractor and a bass boat.  Sadly, Gracey died of old age here and so, a year later, we adopted a blond mutt we named MO. 
Donna Marie Drive, Homer Glen, IL 
(Decorated for "Meet Me in Margaritaville" Party)
7.5 years:  3 bd. 3.5 bath contemporary ranch in Homer Glen, IL (formerly part of Lockport, IL and near our first home) 
With all the sadness that 9-11 brought to the USA, it fortunately brought us back to live in the Midwest again when flights were cancelled indefinitely causing Dan to cancel a job interview in Houston, TX.   He had already been offered a position back in Chicago and I was silently routing for that destination.  This house was in another pleasant neighborhood with lots of children.  At that time, we were in our early fifties and only about six of the forty-eight homes were owned by old codgers like us. 

8 years and counting:  3 cabin 2.5 head Bavaria 46
We began in the BVI in October of 2010 and so far, have visited about eighty different islands or cays sprinkled along the northern, eastern, and southern edges of the Caribbean Sea. And there are still so many more to explore! 
After all, Captain Dan, "Home is wherever I'm with you."

Monday, October 29, 2018



0725 The crew of sv EXIT STRATEGY release their lines from the mooring and slowly back away.


0726 The crew of a dark blue hulled Dutch flagged sailboat align their yacht with the mooring pennants and eventually secure their lines.


0727 The crew of sv LADY REBEL loosen their mooring lines and glide away towards the island of Curacao.


0728 Captain Dan expertly maneuvers his vessel toward the mooring that was just vacated by LADY REBEL and his First & Last Mate secures their lines.

Such is the dance that’s been going on all hurricane season long here in Bonaire.  Most often it is carefully preplanned by the boats involved and carried out with precise orchestration. It is truly a beautiful ballet when everything is timed just right.

Those of us who have spent a number of summers here have noticed many new vessels.  That is no surprise, though, because we have been touting the relative safety from fierce weather conditions here in Bonaire for a number of years.  It appears, that after Irma and Maria reeked havoc throughout the mid and upper regions of the Caribbean last year, boaters (cruisers and liveaboards) have taken Mother Nature more seriously and are seeking more secure anchorages during hurricane season.

So, while boaters within the hurricane belt are praying for fair winds and calm seas, new arrivals in Bonaire are praying for an available mooring ball.  Every boat in the mooring field has been pestered by multiple sailors seeking information on when we might leave. This was especially true during the entire last month and Captain Dan likened them to "sharks" hunting for prey.

Landlubbers may ask “WHY?” 

All of Bonaire is a Marine Park and anchoring of any sort is not allowed.  Along the length of Kralendijk's seawall, a limited number of moorings have been put in place by the Marine Park. The daily mooring fee is only $10 USD, while the dockage in the marina is about $1 USD/length of vessel/day. (For example, if we kept Exit Strategy at the dock, it would cost $46 USD/day.)  Use of the moorings are on a first come, first serve basis. 

We arrived in mid May and are allowed to stay for about two more months.  However, we plan on leaving before then some time later in November when the Hurricane Season of 2018 has just about fizzled out.

The Captain is happy to have a change in scenery on a new mooring.

Friday, October 19, 2018

NOT “Same Same”

Lion fish..."same same"
While traveling through Southeast Asia this summer, we quickly became familiarized with the regional expression “same same.”  This saying is quite similar to our American idiom “six of one- half dozen of the other.”  Simply explained, “same same” means “there is little or no difference”.
Remember those clams Tarzan almost got his leg caught in?

While haggling for goods in the many jaunts into the markets we heard, “same same.”  When served portions of sometime unidentifiable street foods, “same same.”  Negotiating tuk tuk fares, “same same.”  I soon began wondering if “same same” was possibly the extent of their English.  On the other hand, our son-in-law Jeff fully embraced “same same," so we entrusted most of the arrangements to him, leaving us relieved and quite satisfied. 

Possibly a sea star???  NOT "same same"
Dan and I aimed to dive in all three countries, but weather issues prevented us from doing so in Thailand.  We were able to book trips in Cambodia and Vietnam.  Diving as tourists was a new experience for us and the scuba shops did nice jobs in both countries, but thy were NOT “same same.”

NOT "same same"
Our two dives off of the Cambodian island of Koh Rong Sanloem with Deniz (from Turkey) were interesting, except something in his verbal directions must have been lost in translation with the Cambodian boat crew.  When we surfaced after the second dive, the boat was not in sight.  So, Deniz instructed Dan and me to hold his hands and guided us in swimming on our backs through a strong current and chop for about a half hour! Sad smile  The dive boat finally saw us when we kicked our way into their view around the far point of the cay. (Good thing that was our second dive.) 

Urchins had one eyeball and 5 white spots...
NOT "same same" 
The 2-tank dive trip we booked off the coast of Nha Trang, Vietnam was more organized.  They had to be, as their boats held a mix of divers and snorkelers of all shapes and sizes speaking many tongues. Luckily,  they had a multitude of guides on board who spoke a variety of languages.  Although there were about 30 guests on the trip, Dan and I had two dive guides accompany us, so it was like having a private dive (when off the boat Smile ).  We especially liked following our guides through three different tunnels during our second dive.  When we exited the third tunnel, I spotted an octopus whose head was as large as a basketball and with legs as long as my arms! 

Octopus against the wall.
The reefs and sea life there in the South China Sea were far from “same same” when compared to our Caribbean dive experience.  Many of the fish species looked similar, but had very different coloring.  Likewise, the corals were quite unusual and had a much more pronounced blue or purplish hue.   
Saw many blue or purple sea stars.

Coral...NOT "same same"

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Don’t Have a Single Excuse

I have MANY!  Where do I begin…?
My last post was over 16 months ago. (Really?!  June 2, 2017 to be exact.)  Since then, the main deterrent to blogging in a timely manner has been that my focus has been on finishing a second book for my grandkids.

blog (2)

I began leisurely penning the first book, called THE 
FARM, in the summer of 2000 which was when both our children, Becky and Bob, were just engaged to be married. We were living in Springfield, Missouri at the time, and I must admit that I was inspired by the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder, a Missourian who began writing at the age of sixty.  THE FARM was slowly completed around 2012 due to a career move to Chicagoland, teaching fulltime in a new setting, completing a Masters in Ed degree, and, at last- “selling up and sailing away!”  By that time, our four grandkids- Genna, Lyla, Maya, and Aslan- were between the ages of two to five and enjoyed listening to my fond recollections of growing up in our large family on the farm in Southwestern Michigan. 

Our daughter helped edit THE FARM and wanted to immediately know if I would write another book so she could find out what happened next.  The grandkids also prodded me on and often asked to hear more stories.  So, I began organizing the second book, entitled DZIADZIA’S HOUSE, and imposed a deadline of June 2018 to coincide with a month long trip we had planned to take to SE Asia with our daughter’s family.  The long flights and bus transits afforded plenty of time to read DZIADZIA’S HOUSE to Genna and Maya from the copy on my phone.
blog 2Needless to say, we had a fantastic time with Becky’s family in SE Asia taking in the cities and countryside, the reclining Buddha, the floating markets along the Mekong Delta,  the various modes of slow and common of transportation, the sitting Buddhas, the temples and hikes, the beaches and dive sites, the people and street foods, and did I mention the Buddhas?
For a glimpse of our trip, go to  (We traveled with them for the first month from Bangkok, Thailand through Nha Trang, Vietnam.)

For the past three hurricane seasons, Exit Strategy has been moored way south in Bonaire, the smallest island of the Netherland Antilles. Each year, we reconnect physically with family and friends up in the states for part of the summer and also with cruising friends in Bonaire who have been as close as family.  Diving opportunities here are among the best in our hemisphere and we take full advantage of Bonaire’s National Marine Park.

COCONUTS, on Frederiksted Beach, used to be a popular attraction. 
After Irma and Maria reeked havoc on the Virgin Islands last September, we decided to forgo a float plan that would take us to new ports and opted to base Exit Strategy in St. Croix. While there we experienced first hand the Crucians’ frustration with no electrical power, scant and scattered cell service, deeply potholed roadways, and debris at every turn.  Most of St. Croix lost power in September and it was finally restored to our son Bob’s neighborhood on Christmas Eve.

Lee & Mom summer of 2017

A week later I learned that my mom passed away after a bout with the flu.  She was nearly eighty-nine and had told us previously that she didn’t like that number for some unknown reason.  Her death, though not a total shock, still left our family with a feeling of profound loss.  And so, we made an unplanned trip northward to attend her burial services in early January. 

Genny and proud Dad Keith

A month later in February, we flew back up to the states to celebrate the wedding of our niece Genny, from Dan’s side of the family.  (Can you imagine Dan’s demeanor going up into snow country not once, but twice within a month’s time?)  Then, I extended my stay to attend a baby shower for my niece Katie.

Katie and Proud Grandma To Be Geri

st pat
St. Pat's Art Class

The remainder of our time in the Virgin Islands was busy with helping clean up after Maria in small ways. Bob’s was about to move into a new rental house, so we helped get it livable for them. We also cleared debris from St. Patrick’s Catholic School’s playground in Frederiksted and volunteered in the weekly art class.  In addition, I was quite happy to satisfy my soul by being a volunteer gardener at The Artfarm, one of the island’s organic farms, and was compensated nicely with fresh veggies!

In between volunteering, we took care of some routine boat maintenance which included sewing new strataglass into our dodger.  We also replaced our 8-man Viking Life raft with a 6-man Viking and hired a craftswoman to sew a new bimini .

So, these are my excuses for not keeping up the blog.  Take ‘em or leave ‘em.  However, from this point on, I do solemnly pledge to post more often in the coming year.

PS:  THANK YOU cousin Ed Stevens for actually letting me know that you MISSED our blog.  This one’s for YOU! 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Not Throwing In the Towel Yet

Gift from the Brookes after watching Dan swim out
to ES from the beach in Fredericksted,  St. Croix. 
       We retired to cruise on board Exit Strategy about six and a half years ago.  Before moving onto the boat and afterward the most common question we were asked was, "How long do you plan on cruising?"

       Our answer has always been and still is simple, "We're going to keep on doing it as long as we're both healthy and able to manage sailing."

       So it was a concern last fall when I noticed the Captain quietly wincing every now and then.  He didn't complain about anything, though.  He rarely does.  But when he began liberally applying NUTMED, his favorite pain relief spray from Grenada, every night before bed, I had to ask what was going on.  He finally admitted that his right shoulder was really stiff.  He agreed to mention it to his doctor in St. Thomas went he went for his annual check up.

          In the meantime,  he also finally succumbed to my suggestion of installing an automatic winch on the boat to help with the main and Genoa. This was a selfish request on my part, as the less the Captain can do, the more the Mate must do.  It arrived in St. Croix in time for Christmas.


The exercise bans look worn because
they're giving Dan a good workout.
      Long story short- the doc checked the captain out and prescribed a Physical Therapy evaluation.  The evaluation warranted therapy three times a week for four weeks.  This was all accomplished in St. Thomas this spring and ended in time for us to make safe passage down to Bonaire for the bulk of the hurricane season.

       We are far from ready to throw in the towel.   Most mornings now, below the decks of ES you'll find it's transformed into a workout gym.  First & Last Mate Rosie does her yoga poses and stretches in the master cabin while the captain has taken over the companionway and salon. (Those hand holds are really useful!) 
Retirement gift from my "Roomie" Karla at HP School

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Driving Me DINGHY!

Not talking Jamaican Patois, folks.  Just telling it like it is.  Venting, some would say.  What we all need to do at times. Just let off a little steam, so we can keep our cool.

I don't rile easily.  I believe that I've always been calmer and more patient than the average person; however, every now and then I have blown my top with relish.  For instance, eons ago when I was a Special Ed Resource Teacher (in a town that shall remain nameless- I have taught in seven),  I had had a particularly trying session with one of my fourth graders (who shall also remain unnamed).  My emotional beaker, as Rick Lavoie-Sp. Ed. Guru would say, was overflowing!   My Resource Teacher partner/ Good Friend/ Sista-from-Anotha-Motha (yes, she's remaining unidentified, too) witnessed my blow up.  I had just dismissed the student from our room, took a deep breath and said, "I'm going to kill R________   H__________________________!"  Of course,  I DIDN'T, but at the time,  I sure felt like I could have.


You see, I've been working on sewing a canvas cover- also known as chaps- for our dinghy.  I should have made it about two and a half YEARS ago when the dinghy was brand new.  I thought about it.  I even remember trying to use our old cover on it, but the shape of this model was just different enough to warrant a whole new pattern.

Making a pattern involves hauling the dinghy onto the shore and draping a light weight plastic over it to mark and cut and mark and cut repeatedly.  Then on a day with calm winds and low chop in the bay, you lay the pattern over the canvas on a large, relatively flat and clean surface like the foredeck and cut the pieces out. (As seen in picture below.)

Exposed canvas edges can fray, so it's recommended they be sealed which is a painstakingly slow process using a hotgun-like soldering tool.  The cover came away with NO accidental burn marks and I finished the gruesome task with only three burned fingers.

 Then there's the frustration of fitting and marking, cutting and fitting again, followed by sewing and fitting a third or fourth or fifth time.  Sometimes the fitting was accomplished with the dinghy on the beach.  Other fittings were done dangling off the back of the boat taking care to keep the fabric from getting too wet.

The video I watched before starting the chaps also recommended using a two-sided adhesive tape when installing the vinyl around the handholds.  I used this type of tape, but it wasn't sticky enough to work properly and I felt that all my effort was for naught, as I carefully held three layers in place while sewing.  

Need I mention the added difficulty of good cruising friends in the bay stopping by to inquire on my progress, luring me away from my sewing machine to swim, have sundowners ashore, or go out to dinner?

I'm proud of the finished product because the chaps make the dinghy seem new again... just in time for our granddaughter Lyla's sleepover with two friends!