Saturday, December 25, 2010

What do you do on Christmas day?

Waking up with the sun is the norm when you live on a boat, and so is going to sleep early. But this morning was different, not because we got up late, but because it was Christmas Day.

The day before we were playing with sails, raised the main sail again... practice makes perfect and the sail drop was a thing of beauty, no hangups and the whole family working like a well oiled machine.

Christmas Eve morning was also very beautiful... still as a lake and the mega yachts that had bumped us from our prized dock looking... well, Mega!

But this morning was normal in many ways, Doreen checking email with her first cup of coffee, the kids whipping up breakfast, but today there was more... prezies. Christmas on a boat is just as festive, but in much smaller ways. No tree but we have some decorations, presents are small too and more personal... apart from the money from family overseas, which is smart considering the cost of shipping.

What to do on Christmas Day?... easy, go to the beach. The wind blowing from the North East means that our favorite beach is off limits. You need to go by dingy and the swells make it impossible unless we get a west wind.

We checked out the beach across the road from Coupecoy... big swells had taken over, and the only choice was to hike a mile or so to Mullet Beach where the waves would be safer.

The crew surveying the situation.

Isabel taking the plunge.

Where'd the boys go?

We had so much fun getting thrown around by the waves and even Isabel made some bold moves. But, the price to pay for such frolicking with the beach is several pounds of sand stuck in your bathing suit.

Hiking back to the boat was really nice as the warm sun began it's dive back to the horizon. Fortunately, being in a swanky marina means a huge swimming pool to rinse out the sand and have even more fun.

Now... what about Christmas dinner?... We'll, our friend "Guy" was out fishing the day before and dropped off some fresh Mahi Mahi and Wahoo steaks, and we had just picked up some whole squid on the French side of the island "the legs for fishing and the bodies for grilling" so it's going to be a seafood Christmas on Odessa.

Merry Christmas everyone, we hope you have your own amazing day.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shower Power, there's no room for modesty on a boat.

When we first lived full time on Odessa we had to take showers in the cockpit on the back of the boat with a garden hose. At first it was lots of fun, and even kinda cool. But, after six months it seemed to lose it’s luster. On sunny days it was nice, looking down at the fish swimming around the boat in crystal clear water. But on windy days it can be cold, and forget rainy days, way to cold. I remember there were times when it would rain for a week or more and the kids would not go out and spray themselves down with the cold hose. Three teens with out showers for more then a week, stuck on a boat with the hatches closed... not nice. Allan says we should just strip down and use the rain water and a bar of soap. But, that's men for ya and not feasible when you share a dock with others.

Showering outside does have it’s up side. On hot days it’s refreshing and it feels good to have a light breeze on your hot skin. The sunset and star filled skies at night can be so pleasing to the eye and soul, and getting clean in the open skies gives you that, "Cleanliness is close to Godliness feeling". 

When we went to Paris we had a “fancy-smancy” shower with “rain shower” heads and all the hot water you could wish for. It was very modern and looked like it came from the pages of a luxury home decor magazine. But, the picky seamen that we are, we missed the sun set and the starry night showers and couldn't wait to get back to them.
Now we're docked in a very luxurious, swanky dock were we cannot uses our outdoor on-deck shower. We must use the pool to get wet and then come into the boat and wash our hair and body in the galley sink. Shaving for girls and boys was a challenge but a small bowl is working just fine for now. 

I think in the near future I will be telling you how showering in the rain is working out and what type of soap works best. We can’t wait to be anchored off some quite beach with only the moonlight gazing at our nudeness as we bare all in the pursuit of cleanliness.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What is a home anyway?

Now that we're closer to our sailing goals, it's time to focus on living. Why did we embark on this adventure in the first place?, Are we making progress?, Have we learnt anything? These are the questions that roll around in my head when I find myself completely relaxed, usually gazing out over the lagoon with a fresh cup of coffee in hand or watching the kids set out on a new adventure.

These questions are often followed by, Are we going to make it?, Are we doing the right thing for the children?, What happens if we fall short? I think that these questions dominate our lives now because we're so much happier and healthier living on Odessa. When we lived in the rat race we were so busy trying to survive every day or caught up in the things we thought were important, that we didn't have time to even think about such fundamental concepts or even each other.

The answers are elusive and the questions serve to keep us on our toes, To be honest, I long for the day when we can be completely content, in the knowledge that everything is going to be alright. That day may never come and I think that these questions are part of what makes us human, but for now we'll rely on faith... faith in ourselves and our ability to figure everything out.

I once read in an airline magazine, that as a husband and father you need only to provide three basics for your family, a roof over your head, food on the table, and an education. Once you are able to achieve these three fundamentals, everything else will fall into place. The article was about peoples inability to follow their dreams because of the brainwashing we all receive from birth. From the influence of our parents fears and insecurities, to modern societies need to keep people in the system earning a wage, buying goods and paying taxes. The cumulative effect is that we've become afraid to step into the unknown, even though we know that there is a good chance that we'd be happier humans living our dreams. But, unfortunately 99% of people stay in the routine defined for them by the series of events that are their everyday lives.

I'll be honest... the trip I was making was to inspect and hopefully buy Odessa and I still had a lot of doubt in my mind about "my" big adventure. The question that haunted me was, Am I doing the right thing for my family? The article simplified things for me and defined the "right thing" as being the three fundamentals, and this did make it easier to say "sold" when the time came.

One year later and I still agree with the author... all you need is a roof over your head, food on the table and an education. All of the other things, the conveniences, happiness and even health seem to fall into place naturally. Once you're disconnected from "society" and it's trappings or dabble in multiple societies, you find a way to maintain only the important additions to the three fundamentals... you find yourself happy, with a real home and far fewer trappings to worry about.

Now this doesn't require a boat, it could be a small holding in some far off land, even a camper in Alaska, and the three fundamentals cannot be considered geographical elements.  But it does require physically being outside the geographical boundaries of modern civilization. Space is at premium in the cosmopolitan cities of our modern world and therefor control is at it's highest. I can feel the changes taking place every time I'm in a major city, the draw of modern life, the influence of the trappings and the need to escape them before they lead me off the path and into the forrest.

This has been a long and necessary way of setting up this post. Because now that we have left the underworld of the boat yard, and accepted the graces of the modern society that we're trying to avoid. This epitome of social standing called Puerto Cupecoy is our new home, for now. Sure it's a pretty world, full of nice things, conveniences and the promise of a wonderful life, so the brochure says. However, we were lured here for very different reasons, cheap dockage, the need for water and electricity, the room to work on our sails and because there are very few places that we can go with our 8' 6" draft (depth of keel), and most of them are several thousand dollars a month. In other words we had no choice and accepted the offer of an introductory $450 per month dock fee with relief.

Even though there are no guarantees of this dock fee not increasing over time, we have already made plans to escape this trap as soon as possible. It took only two weeks for that feeling of stepping off the path to creep into our lives. Firstly, no internet, no showers, and the worrying part is that there is no motivation to solve these two fundamental insufficiencies, "mega yachts have their own internet and showers" is the response from the resort. This has been closely followed by apparent condo owner complaints about our having a couple of sail bags and lines on the gargantuan mega yacht dock where we are tied up, despite having permission to do so from the dock master. Even thought every condo on our side of the marina is empty, and the yachts in the main marina have anchors, chains and dirty cushions littered all over the place, we seem to be a target as a youngish family living aboard. We are tucked away out of sight, very quiet and you'd not know we were here unless you walk all the way out to the extreme edge of the property... however, this doesn't make us immune to the politics and positioning of modern day citizens in their desperation to feel important.

It turns out the Puerto Cupecoy with all of it's trimmings is exactly the world that we're trying to avoid, and geographically this certainly isn't our destination, but Odessa is a wonderful home full of promise and the ability to take us wherever we wish to go. My family is the happier than I could possibly hope for and I am pretty sure that one day we'll find the geographical element that not only completes our home, but gives us the confidence that everything will be alright.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If it takes longer then 4 hours to raise your mast... is a bad thing.

Odessa is in position, the wind is down and the mast is as ready as it’s going to be. It’s mast stepping day and Odessa will cease being a motor boat and return to her former state as a sail boat.
The process of stepping a mast is not complicated in itself and with a smaller rig it can quite easily be a do-it-yourself job. But, as usual, Odessa being originally built to go fast, has many quirks and complications. Add the fact that we took a risk and changed to new synthetic Dynex rigging with all new fittings, and relied on my ability to measure everything correctly, and you have a recipe for some issues.

FKG Rigging in St. Maarten are handling the job and I must say that I feel very confident in their ability to make it as smooth as possible. FKG is used to handling far more complicated rigs and their huge experience should solve the issues that were bound to encounter. 

Chris from FKG is a quite man, thoughtful and very helpful when asked, we have enjoyed working with him and tapping into his knowledge and experience. He works with Paul and as a team they have a confidence inducing rapport, a quite communication that really helped me keep my cool through the whole process. 

And up she went... it’s quite amazing to see the 75’ long spaghetti of mast and rigging get hoisted in the air and swung into place. Hanging still just above Odessa, who moves under the influence of the water and wind. Slowly the mast drops through the deck, it”s maneuvered through the fixtures below to finally rest on the mast plate (the step). Then there’s actually a bit of a buzz as the lowers and various lines are attached to stabilize the rig. 

This is when I fully realized just how flexible masts are, wobbling like a limp noodle this huge 75 foot pole slowly begins to firm up as rigging is tightened. I was feeling very good about the whole thing, and this is when our first issue arose... everything is very tight and the 4 shrouds are way too short.

Being tight is ok because we should get some stretch out of the rope rigging which has been sat in storage for 6 months, but the “way to short” part is another story. I checked my measurements, looked for a solid alibi, but there was no denying it... I have made a 12” mistake 8 months before.

We lashed the fittings that are too short and tightened everything up to put it under load. With over 3000 lb. of pressure on each line it should work out any stretch and we will be able to attach the lines that are tight in a couple of days. The 4 shrouds that are way too short will need a solution... which I'm sure will come to mind after lunch.

We were on a deadline... leave the yard by Friday to get to our new staging dock at Puerto Cupecoy at the far end of the lagoon. The final solution would have to wait until after the weekend which would also give the rig time to work out any stretch. We spent that night full of happiness listening to the rig sing in the wind, the problems melted away and we cooked a wonderful diner on deck. Even though we're only a third of the way to having a fully functioning rig, it suddenly felt a lot closer than yesterday.

Next stop is Cupecoy, a new luxury resort providing amazing rates to fill the marina while they build their reputation. Quite a contrast from the ship yard and the kids have orders to be on their best behavior. There turns out to be advantages and disadvantages to living the high life for a while... we'll get to that in the next post.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hurricane Tomas and whirlwind Tony create an unexpected dilema.

Let's set the scene... we're adamant about being as environmentally friendly as possible to see if you can live very cheaply, very comfortably and very healthily while using less than 10% of the energy and resources that we did in our previous normal lives in a house, all of the conveniences, a couple of cars and three kids.

So, we're in the early years of our adventure, wide eyed and bushy tailed when everything is new and cool... even showering with a hose off the back of the boat on a crowded dock is fun and not an inconvenience. But, there is temptation... yes, lots of temptation, and this time it comes from two unexpected sources... a great friend and a hurricane.

Hurricane Tomas is the first player in this chain of events... it's south of us and we're watching it closely for the "Crazy Ivan" turn which it's predicted to make. If it makes the turn on the next couple of days we will be in trouble, either way the result of a close storm is heat and rain. We're stuck on the dock at Saint Maarten Shipyard while we finish our mast and get it back on Odessa. This means that we don't have any awnings up with nothing to support them and it's crazy hot in the boat, 80f/27c at night and 90f/32 during the day with the hatches open, but with rain we have to close the hatches and suffer the consequences and an additional 10 degrees.

Enter Tony, who along with his family Joanie, and Jesse have become very close friends and we enjoy their company immensely,  especially Tony's boundless energy and help. "I have a couple of portable marine air conditioning units, use one to cool the boat." He innocently said, not knowing the dilemma his generosity would create.

It felt weird, even wrong to be thinking about using such a power hungry item with only one self indulgent result, "personal comfort". Are we turning away from our goal, will we become slaves to the very grid based conveniences that we're getting away from?.. "It's bloody hot, so let's plug it and and see where it goes".

In the words of Yoda... "Not so easy this convenient installation is". Odessa only has one normal deck hatch in the middle of the boat and it's too small for the AC unit which must be placed over a deck hatch. The only option is the very large sail hatch in the forepeak (front cabin) which is way too big. Get some plywood, cut holes, line everything up, try to level the AC unit, a curved deck means sealing all the way around and finally strapping the whole lot down so that it is secure. a few hours later and it looks right.

We finally had everything in place and with the hatches closed the temperature rapidly began to creep towards the 100f/38c mark. Plug her in and away she goes, quietly the cool air began wafting from the vent in a seductive flow full of promise. The bow cabin cooled down nicely, it's a shame that it's full of sails, ropes and awnings and we can't use it until the mast is up. The warm air vent into the AC unit is right next to the cold air out, so we stuck a powerful little Venturi fan in front of the cold air out and it sucks the cold air blowing it nicely down the middle of the boat. Unfortunately Odessa's foredeck raises towards the bow, so we can't quite get the AC unit level and this causes the condeznsated water to drip inside the hatch... "bring out the buckets". It's actually quite a good little water maker producing about a liter of water an hour.

The AC unit holds the temperature at 90f/32c during the day with the hatches closed... so that's an improvement. But at night it's a seductive force keeping the whole boat at 72f/22c of lovely dry air. We woke up this morning at 4:30am... very early during heavy rain to check on the position of hurricane Tomas. We made coffee in dark uncomfortable silence, both Doreen and I were unsure of the situation we found ourselves in and were thinking the same thing... "it feels really good, but is this right?'

Fortunately, even though air conditioning is very nice, we could only use it when Odessa is at a dock with shore power, so we don't have to commit to the evils of singular, power hungry "comfort" devices. We can be happy knowing that once Odessa is back together and anchored offshore, the lovely Caribbean breeze will waft freely through the cabin night and day, and the awnings will mean we can leave the hatches open when it rains. But for now, while we're working everyday in the yard with the heat and humidity, we'll take all of the cold air we can get... thanks Tony, and of course Tomas.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nothing like a big new stick to make your day (part one)

OK... puns aside, we have finally, almost, just about finished the mast rebuild. Yes, that's right, a total rebuild.

If you buy an old boat... she's going to need a new rig, or at least new standing rigging and chain plates (See Chain Plate Bling Bling post). When buying Odessa we succumbed to the same buyers denial, "oh, the rig was solid, just a couple of things here and there"... But too many unknowns, bad turnbuckles, rusty spots, and several stories from cruisers about rigs coming crashing down... even on boats only 5 years old, and we took the plunge when we pulled the rig in January. After all, the rig is a huge safety issue and you must be confident in your boat if you're going to make offshore passages.

So, here we are about a year later and finally we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We stripped the mast to the bare stick and had a local painter prep and paint it the original MacGregor Black. To be honest the paint job kind of sucked, so we had him reshoot it a second time right before we left for paris... and all in all it took 12 weeks, not one week... ah, island time.

The delay wasn't bad considering that we also changed from rod rigging to the new Dynex Dux synthetic rope rigging. Colligo Marine took care of designing and supplying the Dynex Dux and all of the fittings, and I must say that John Franta is awesome. But, we are still stuck in the world of traditional sailing for some parts and the mast fittings are NavTech... which took 12 weeks to come... this sounds familiar.

More on rigging in another post... it's a huge subject and we need to run our rigging offshore to have first hand knowledge before we start mouthing off about it... but so far our new ideas are looking very good.

We were forced to buy yet more bling for Odessa... a nice new Harken winch for the mast. Out of the four mast winches we had, one was past repair. So we scavenged around and managed to score a 40% off deal from Budget Marine on a new Harken 40 STX... thanks to the great guys at Budget Marine who continue to help us squeeze every ounce out of our budget, now we have four brands of winches on the boat.

We also replaced the very old and massive spinnaker blocks on the mast head... technology has halved the size of everything from blocks to rope. The new synthetic materials have crazy strength and none of the corrosion issues of old gear. For the rich guy it means lots of shopping, but for cruisers like us we have to be careful... anything exotic tends to need replacing in a year or two, not ten years like the old stuff. We don't plan on flying Odessa's spinnaker unless it's very light wind... it's massive and has the sail area of the moon. So we got some mid sized Lewmar blocks and have the biggies onboard if we get all amorous about going for some downwind records. Odessa is a downwind freight train capable of over 25 knots and has broken several records in her life so far... more like surfing than cruising.

The drama of the roller furling is now over... even though it was a huge budget hit and lost Doreen her water maker ... well, for a while. We now have a new Furlex 300S for the Genoa and the old ProFurl 45 has been cut down and replaces the old Jib furler which was a Frankenstein made up of so many weird parts with the strength of a MacDonalds thick shake straw. You have to use stainless wire in a roller furling so we used the trick stuff that has shaped strands and no stretch... a couple of hundred dollars more but well worth the investment and less than rod.

Rope... man this stuff is pricy too, so take a good look at the running rigging if you're buying a boat. Odessa has a lot of brand new running rigging from the previous owners, but we have had to replace some halyards because the originals were wire and rope hybrids, and we have replaced the mast sheaves to run rope throughout the boat, no stainless steel. These "running rigging" ropes are used to hoist sails up the mast, up the roller furling, even to lift your dingy out of the water and also for sail control. So the halyards that lift the sails up the mast are 180 feet long and carry very heavy loads under full sail. Most ropes are Dynex core these days and 12mm thickness has a breaking strain of around 14,000 pounds, or 7 Tons. But for cruisers like us, these are expensive... up to $1,000 each. The other ropes are also long, so doing the math is scary and it's well worth taking care of your ropes. Wash them at least once a year in mild soap and watch for any chances of chaffing.  If you have a smaller mast you can get lots of deals on eBay for leftover spools, but Odessa has a 75' mast so buying full spools is the way to go.

I must thank Doreen for taking these lovely pictures... we had a frustrating morning when we discovered that two very important parts of our new rig were missing. Doreen whipped me into shape and we achieved a huge amount of work in the heat of the day... then this lovely light sprinkle of rain cooled us off as if to tell us to stop work and enjoy the evening. Doreen grabbed her camera and captured the moments in the most unlikely conditions... in a nasty, dirty boat yard full of mosquitos and stray dogs.

We have learnt an awful lot on this project and I'll do a more complete post in part two... right now the wind has dropped, the air blowing through the boat is cool and the kids are busting to play a board game before bed.

Thanks to everyone who's following our adventures, we really appreciate the emails and most of all comments on the posts, so please comment away, tell us what you think, what you want to know more about and even if you think we suck... we're just trying to inspire people and need you to guide us. Add us to your bookmarks and visit during your morning coffee, tea or toast.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

LAUNCH - Phase one "Get her in the water already"

OK... there's no way around it, everyone is nervous on launch day and it's been exactly one year since we first launched Odessa. The sight of your hard work dangling precariously from an old crane is enough to churn your stomach. We arrived early in the morning, spent the next hour waiting for Harry (the crane driver) to arrive... he was limping badly which wasn't a good sign. The next hour was spent watching the yard guys standing around the crane scratching their heads about the very large pool of oil spilling out of the crane engine... our confidence was waining.

But the sun broke through the morning clouds and the action began. Firstly, the yard guys have done this a thousand times, so trust them... even if it looks like their heading for disaster. Brief with the crane driver and crew before the lift begins and let them know when you want to do checks, like making sure the through hulls on the boat are open and not leaking, when you're going to run the engine etc. If you need anyone onboard to handle lines and which way you want to head off the dock.

We are also going for plan B on the running gear, propeller etc. The first time we just cleaned everything and painted metal primer and bottom paint on the skeg and shaft... "barnacles know no limits" and we had to scrape every 4 weeks to keep the prop clean. You can paint it with "prop speed" a resin that many power boaters use, but this time we're trying an old time method... polish the prop and shaft, wax them and then run greasy hands over them to create another barrier... so, we'll see how it works this time. I'll also be jumping over the side tomorrow morning to put a black plastic bag around the prop... this is apparently foolproof as long as you remember to remove it before heading out.

It's funny how a boat that looks so big when it's on land, can look so small when she's plopped into the water. Everything worked out well and we motored around to the other side of the dock about 100ft away. This will be our home for a couple of weeks while we finish rigging the mast... then it's back around again and repeat the process with the old crane, which will drop in the refinished mast with new rig.

Trying to look confident and relaxed is tough sometimes.

Do they know that she can't go flat against the dock wall because it's too shallow?

Oh... they do know what they're doing.

We're rigged with Dynex Dux for everything and unfortunately just found out that we had a roller furling that was not rebuildable. The final solution was to take the Genoa roller furling which is a profurl 45 and cut it down to replace the jib (working foresail) furler and have a new larger furler made for the genoa. It's a big hit to our budget, so the water maker will have to wait for a while (sorry Doreen). There's no shortage of projects, so hopefully "a while" will be long enough to earn the funds and focus on the right water maker solution... it's complicated and we first need to define our water usage in the real world. Ah, but at least we can forget about it for now and think about spreaders and turnbuckles.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An "Electric Head" makes everyone happy.

After 6 months of clogs and pipes crusting solid with calcium crystals. We made the jump to an electric toilet. NOTE : Our kids do not pump the 21 times to get all the waste out of our nine feet pipes (7 pumps per yard) so we had more smelly problems than I care to mention.

It's not so bad clearing pipes on the dock, but like everything the head is a cramped space and scraping calcium deposits from the fittings is not fun.

We did learn the secret to avoiding calcium build up in your pipes, which is what happens with salt water flushing pee. (Place a cup of white vinegar in the toilet and hand pump half way through the out take hose and let sit overnight.) There is a problem with this however, the vinegar strips away the lubricant from the manual pump. The result is a sound something like the mating call of a moose, who tends to call 21 times at all ours of the night. But, for a family of five it was no solution at all. We later found out that you need to follow the next day with olive oil... that's the thing with advice, it tends to be incomplete and it all began to sound like a recipe for endless complications.

So,.. the advice of old sea dogs is always have a manual pump toilet, because there are no electrical parts that will fail. But, the advice from our cursing friends with families on board is to upgrade to an electric toilet, keep a spare pump on hand and keep your family happy. Especially the Captain who usually gets the job of dismantling a blocked toilet. ( Doreen just informed me she unclogged it once).

Again, everything and we mean everything, on a boat is crammed into the smallest space, and is installed by a builder with neurosurgeon skills and tools to match. So what was an easy replacement idea, quickly became an game of twister.

With Odessa on "the hard" and no hatches open (everything was hurricane ready)... the temperature inside the head is over 100 degrees... free sauna anyone?

Once we had taken out the old toilet and hardware carefully noting the order of removal (yeah right), we realized that the base had been installed when the boat was built and it was now impossible to get it back together the same way. We had shoved our arms into impossible places, made "new and improved" tools to reach those impossible to reach nuts, but putting the new hardware back would require gripping the nuts with a deft touch.... simply impossible.

Zip-ties are your best friend.

So with a bit of a redesign and help from Peter (the fabricator) we finally get everything back together... looking nice. But that led to the next challenge... re routing the hoses and pipes, making it perfect and most importantly, functional. More twister, scraped knuckles and a whole lot of pulling and shoving, and finally the satisfaction of pressing a little button "swoosh" a power flush, sort of like the ones on an airplane... so, now we shouldn't have the 10 t 15 moose calls at all hours, and more importantly, no pulling pipes and smashing them on the dock while our neighbors look on in horror.

The final result and yes, your legs do dangle a bit while seated, but that's to keep the bowl above the waterline... even when healed over. A foot pedestal and some grab rails are the next "Head" project.

If it breaks down while we're at sea, then its going to be a bucket, or over the side if you're good enough without going MOB (man overboard).

Even though 9 times out of 10 the old tried and true methods are best... sometimes modernized equipment does solve the problems that have been around since man took his first sail... and even then you always need a back-up system for everything... enter the bucket.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Flooding Halts Progress

Sometimes you have to stop and take stock of your situation, and today was one of those days. We've been under the influence of tropical storm Otto for 4 days and despite the torrential rain, flooding and difficult conditions, we've tried to keep going on our list of work needed before we launch Odessa. But on day 4 as we headed back out in the afternoon it was eerily quite, a couple of people wading through the flood waters and the stores all shuttered and closed.

Well, with know where to get the vital 1/4" x 2" machine screw that we needed to finally finish the toilet project... we gave up and pulled into Peter's work shop to find out what was going on. A curfew at 3:00pm was the answer, and given that we'd gone through 4 days of hell, it seemed strange that the local authorities had enforced a curfew so late in the storm. It was 2:45pm so we stayed and chatted to Peter about the inefficiencies of local government on the island and how it should be done of course. At precisely 3:00pm the heavens opened and the rain began an even bigger onslaught on the folks below.

The pathway to the villa we're staying in.

Lagoonies... we can't even get a cup of coffee today.

Everything looks different in the rain.

Spike finds a dry spot and does what we all should be doing.

Doreen makes a run for it.

Our back garden... or is it a rice paddy.

Well it can't always be sunny in paradise and it's been nice and cool this week. Hopefully we can catch up on the loss of time and get back on schedule next week. Ooh, Kung Fu Panda is on the telly.