The Beautiful Blue Water of The Bahamas – Ahhhhh….

We are sitting in the Staniel Cay Yacht Club here in the Exuma Islands of the Bahamas, drinking a Kalik (the local Bahamas beer).  Carl and David are still the two main bartenders here at SCYC (same as when we were here in 2010 and probably even way before that!).  Beausoleil is anchored off Big Majors, where the swimming pigs refused to come out of the woods today for a treat.  We are really beginning to enjoy ourselves – even slipping into “island time”.  Our first stop was Cat Island (we motor sailed all the way from Marathon to Cat Island and checked into the Bahamas there).  It is a beautiful island with lot’s to do and see.  We visited with Captain Graham (one of our friends we met in Key West when he was the captain of Bellissimo) for a while and tried to find the diving/snorkeling spots he told us about.  Dave, Paula and Angel met us there on m/y Bellissimo.  We enjoyed both the Hawk’s Nest Point and the New Bight harbors, hiked the island and had some great Bahamian food (including peas and rice).  The water is really something to see – so blue, turquoise on the banks and azure blue where it drops off to where the depth sounder no longer reads…  We stayed in Cat Island a week and then headed to Staniel Cay.  We have been here since Sunday, January 17th and will probably be here a few more days waiting for a “possible cold front” to make it’s way through the islands.  We listen to Chris Parker each morning to hear the weather forecast and decide if we want to weigh anchor and head to the next stop – “Not today, maybe tomorrow” we say.  We are not in a hurry.

We were lucky enough to get internet access today, we will try to update the blog more often and figure out how to get the SPOT to update the “Where’s Beausoleil Page” – don’t give up on us 🙂

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Happy New Year!!!

Anchored in BahamasWell, today is the first day of 2012, so we’re going sailing! We’re leaving Key West this afternoon to finally begin the real cruising we’ve been working towards for the last five years. We’ll stop in Marathon, Florida for a couple days to wait for a weather window, then it’s on to the Bahamas. We’ll meet up with some friends (Dave and Paula on Bellissimo) in Georgetown in the Exumas for a few weeks of island hopping, The we’ll begin working our way down to the Leeward Islands and Windward Islands of the Caribbean.

We’re made some great friends here in Key West, and we hate to leave them behind, but we have to move on. Goodbye to Brett and Jill, Nancy, Bob, Sally, Steve, Bill and Sandra, Shan and JoJo, and everyone else in Key West. It’s been a great year! But all the projects on Beausoleil are done, and it’s time to move on.

Keep an eye on our Where’s Beausoleil link – we’ll update it with our location via a handy little satellite messenger called Spot from Globalstar. I’ll get it working automatically as soon as I have the time.

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Shawna Has A New Gig!

Well, it’s been way too long since our last post. Things have been extremely busy since we helped support Cynthia Aguilar on her paddle from Cuba. In July, Shawna finally wound down her consulting job with Meridian Knowledge Solutions. But did she revel in her newly retired state? No, of course not. She accepted a request from her friends Dianne Hopp and Capt. Marlin Scott to write a monthly sailing column in their magazine, Fishmonster. Her first article just came out before Holloween in the print version of the magazine, but it’s not on the website just yet. But you can read an Adobe Flash version of the print mag online. Just go to fishmonster.com and click on the link “Get Fishmonster Magazine Online” on the right side of their homepage. Her first column is on page 53.

We just finished up a week of Fantasy Fest in Key West. We’ll post an article on that soon, as well as an article or two on the upgrades we’ve been doing on Beausoleil. We’re scrambling to finish the projects so we can provision the boat and shove off at the end of November to begin our circumnavigation. First stop will be the Bahamas, then on to Turks & Caicos, the Virgin Islands, and on down to the rest of the Leeward Islands and Windward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean!

 

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Keep Paddlin’!!!

Well, we’re scrambling to finish preparations for Cynthia Aguilar’s record setting board paddle from near the coast of Cuba near Havana to Key West. The distance will be about 90 nautical miles across the heart of the Gulf Stream. The paddle should take about 30-36 hours. Our friends Dave and Paula Norris and Bob Olin & Nancy Jordan have agreed to have their boats, Bellissimo and Sunluver, be the support boats for her attempt at the record. Check out Cynthia’s website – make sure to view the video trailer too!

Shawna and I will be crew on Bellissimo, along with our other friends Brett & Jill.

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The Traveling Adventures of Flat Stanley

This story was written by me for my grand-niece, Haylee and her second grade class. They had an assignment to mail Flat Stanley to a friend who could show them a different part of the world so that the kids could see how other people lived.

The Traveling Adventures of Flat Stanley

By: Shawna Gauthier (Haylee Holly’s “Aunt Shawna”)

Uncle Jon and Aunt Shawna were so excited when they heard that Flat Stanley was going to visit them in Key West, FL. Key West is made up of several islands – Key West, Stock Island, Sigsbee Park, Fleming Key and Sunset Key. There are so many fun things to do and see in Key West. The Gulf of Mexico is the body of water on the North side of Key West and the Atlantic Ocean is on the South side. The Atlantic side offers beautiful crystal clear blue water where Jon and Shawna love to play. They swim, snorkel, dive, fish, kayak, paddle board, sail, ride their bicycles, visit the local beaches, shops and restaurants and enjoy being with friends here on “The Rock”.

They welcomed Flat Stanley aboard Beausoleil, the 60′ sailboat on which they live. They gave him the tour of the boat. He had his own berth (bedroom) and his own head (bathroom).


 

He especially liked hanging out near the ship’s tide clock and the barometer. The tide clock helps keep track of high and low tides which changes the depth of the water and let’s you know if the tide is running, ebbing or slack (all make a difference when you are trying to sail somewhere).  The barometer on the right helps keep track of the atmospheric pressure which can help let Jon and Shawna know if a storm might be coming their way.


 

Flat Stanley even got to take a trip up the mast to help Uncle Jon work on the boat. The mast at the very top is 63.8 feet above the water. Now that is a great view. Good thing Flat Stanley isn’t scared of heights!


 

Flat Stanley got a tour of the Key West Harbour Yacht Club, which is where Beausoleil is docked. There is a Tiki Hut, a really nice restaurant with a beautiful view, a pool, a workout room, sea kayaks, a beach and a lot of friendly neighbors that also live on their boats. Flat Stanley and Uncle Jon posed for a picture under the stars at the Tiki Hut.


Aunt Shawna decided that Flat Stanley was a little over dressed for Key West, no one wears a tie here and it is too warm for long pants, shoes and socks. Shawna made him a couple of outfits so he could be comfortable during his visit. The first outfit was a tank top and shorts. He also needed a pair of sunglasses and a hat because it is so sunny and warm here in Key West. Flat Stanley found some shells on the beach!


 

Key West History is full of stories about “Wreckers”. These are people who came to Key West and made a living by salvaging ships that wrecked on the shallow reefs around the islands. During the winter and spring months there is a local “Wreckers Race” sponsored by the Schooner Wharf Bar (one of the oldest restaurants in Key West). This is where the sailboats, both private and commercial, of Key West race against each other from the tip of Key West out to a beautiful reef called Sand Key Light. Flat Stanley was lucky enough to get a crew spot on sailboat Tovarish with Captain Ron and his crew. Here is Flat Stanley helping flake (fold) the staysail.


Here is Flat Stanley keeping watch.


 

 

Here is Flat Stanley with the crew of Tovarish – can you find Flat Stanley?


 

Flat Stanley spent Easter Sunday in Key West with Aunt Shawna and Uncle Jon. They all went to their friend’s catamaran for Easter Dinner. Flat Stanley fit right in. He even tried on the bunny ears!


 

Flat Stanley had a lot of good food to eat. There was ham, lamb, crab claws, lot’s of different kinds of salad…


 

Flat Stanley especially liked the chocolate cake with strawberries,


 

And the chocolate Easter Egg cake and the brownies!


 

Key West is the southern-most city in the Continental United States. Highway U.S. 1 begins in Key West. All the tourists get their picture taken at Mile Marker Zero.


 

While Flat Stanley was visiting Key West, the 16th annual Songwriter’s Festival was taking place. More than 150 of the industry’s top performing songwriters were on the island playing on all the local stages including beautiful beaches, resorts, boats, bars and theaters. Flat Stanley got to see: Marshall Chapman, John Pardi, Bobby Pinson, The World Famous Headliners, the Andy Velo Band, Jerrod Niemann, one of Jon and Shawna’s friends Scott Kirby, and the most entertaining performer of all – Robert Earl Keen! These people have written so many famous songs, mostly performed by Country and Western stars. That’s Robert Earl Keen performing on stage!


Flat Stanley went to bed that night wishing that Haylee could have joined him in all this fun. He dreamed about becoming a famous songwriter and playing in Key West someday.


 

Key West is also known as the Conch Republic. In 1982 Key West seceded from the United States and became its own nation known as the Conch Republic. While it was not a real secession movement, every year there is a Mock battle between the US Coast Guard and the local “Conchs” to remind everyone why there was a secession movement in the first place – they are seeking only to bring more “Humor, Warmth, and Respect” to a world in sore need of all three. Flat Stanley watched the battle from Mallory Square. This is a picture of the Western Union, the largest schooner in Key West.


 

Here is a picture of the US Coast Guard fighting back with water canons! Even though it was all in good fun, Flat Stanley had a hard time watching. It looked like the boats were going to run into each other. But they didn’t…


 

Yipee! The Conchs won the battle. The US Coast Guard surrendered and raised the flag of the Conch Republic!


 

Since Flat Stanley, Uncle Jon and Aunt Shawna were already down town, they decided to visit the Ice Cream Shop,


watch the sunset,


see the famous Cat Man show,


try on a few hats,


and visit the Key West Art and Historical Society Museum statues. This one is called “The Sunday Walk” by J. Seward Johnson Jr.


 

Stanley checked out the Mel Fischer Treasure Museum. This is a picture of Flat Stanley in one of the canons on display at the museum.


 

Flat Stanley visited one of the largest banyan trees on the island.


 

He even had Key Lime pie for dinner!


One day while Flat Stanley was having lunch on the Upper Deck, the Disney Cruise Ship Magic docked right out front. Flat Stanley talked non-stop about how much he wanted to go on a cruise on that ship some day!


The next evening, Flat Stanley, Uncle Jon and Aunt Shawna were invited aboard their friends’ 75-foot power yacht Bellissimo for a Sushi dinner.


They got to meet Underwater Digital Video Production Videographers – Joe and Ozlem Berg. They own a company called “Way Down Video”. Their goal is to show people how amazing the underwater life is with the fish, coral, and all the other creatures, and to teach people why it is so important to keep our seas and oceans clean. They brought one of their DVD’s and we watched it on the big screen. Stanley put on his shortie, snorkel, and face mask and pretended to swim with all the fish!

The Hermit Crab freaked Flat Stanley out just a little bit…


The next day there was another beautiful sunset at the marina! There were so many other things that Uncle Jon and Aunt Shawna wanted to show Flat Stanley, but they ran out of time. I guess Flat Stanley will have to visit again, hopefully this time Haylee will be able to come with him.


 

Have a safe trip home Flat Stanley! We love you, Haylee! We wish you could have mailed yourself with Flat Stanley for a visit to Key West.

Uncle Jon and Aunt Shawna

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Speaking of alcohol…

The following was something I posted on the website Cruiser’s Forum a while back. Someone had heard that the thinner the wire, the more electrical current could flow, and wanted confirmation of it. Someone said no, that was not true – which is correct. The thicker the wire, the less voltage drop (hence resistance), therefore the more electrical current it can handle without heating up and melting.  So someone posted the little anecdote below:

“This reminds me of a discussion I had with a fourth year apprentice electrician who steadfastly refused to accept that a thicker cable meant less voltage drop for a given length. It took more than half an hour to only partially convince him, increadible[sic].”

 

Naturally, I had to reply with the actual physical theory to back it up:

You have to look at these things logically – typically after imbibing a bit of alcohol; then it all becomes spectacularly clear:

Think of a wire as a passage out of your local watering hole. If the passage is nice and wide, with little hindering the way of your average drunk (electron), then the drunk tends to meander left and right on the way to the parking lot – or the marina in the case of us sailors. But if the passage is narrow, then you can only travel in a straight line, so you’re forced to take the shortest path to your car (or boat in its slip). So, from this impeccable beer-goggle logic , one can make the intuitive leap that’s usually reserved for winners of the Darwin Award, and assume that a narrow gauge wire is more efficient at passing electricity than a wide, heavy wire.

Now, the more sober among us, only marginally so since we couldn’t afford that last drink because we just filled up our gas tank, will quickly realize that narrow passage is fine when there’s only one electron/drunk at a given moment, but at closing time when everyone’s leaving the bar, there’s a massive pileup, and everyone gets in a fight in the narrow passage through the parking lot. The same thing happens in electricity. The electrons all want to leave at the same time, and they get stuck in that narrow passage, and before you know it one makes some snide comment about another electron’s wife – and it’s shear bedlam. There’s a complete meltdown, and the whole thing goes up in sparks and flames.

And that, my friends, is the God’s honest truth about why you want big fat wires – so that any snide comments from passing electrons won’t be overheard, because they’re too far away across the width of the wire to be heard!

And that, my friends, is something I did not learn while studying electrical engineering all those years ago. I formulated it while in an altered state.

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Yo Ho Ho and a Barrel of Rum!

The following story is true. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent. In fact, the PBS documentary show, “History Detectives”, featured it in their first season back in 2003.

In our family, there was this heirloom – a sword which was supposedly given to my great-great-great-grandfather, Jean Julien Rousseau (ancestor to my paternal grandmother, Agnes Rousseau Gauthier) by Napoleon Bonaparte. When I was a little kid, it hung in a framed box over a fireplace in my grandparent’s house. Later, it hung in the local museum, the Le Petite Paris Museum.

My hometown of St. Martinville, Louisiana, is famous as the setting of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem, Evangeline. The poem personalizes the exile of the Acadians of Nova Scotia, Canada back in the 1750’s when the English won Canada from the French and expelled those unwilling to pledge allegiance to King George. We have the 400+ year old Evangeline Oak, where Longfellow’s Evangeline waited desperately for her love, Gabriel. Napoleon’s sword was another piece of “history” in the story of St. Martinville.

However, as the sleuths from the History Detectives found out, that bit of history was wrong. The sword was not a gift from Napoleon to reward Jean Julien Rousseau for saving the French flag after Napoleon’s regimental flagbearer at the Battle of Wagram in Austria in 1809 was killed. No – the true story is even better than the little tale of family lore. The History detectives dug into parish courthouse records and discovered what really happened. The truth is much more interesting than the old family fiction.

It turns out that Jean Julien Rousseau really was a hero in battle that day in Austria in 1809.  But he didn’t retrieve the French flag after their flagbearer fell in battle. No – he actually captured the enemy regiment’s flag in the battle, demoralizing the enemy, leading to victory for Napoleon’s troops. And for that bravery, he was awarded – by Napoleon – a Pistol of Honor.

So what about the sword? And what’s the title of this blog mean – Yo Ho Ho and a Barrel of Rum? I’m getting to that.

The sword ended up being a French Navy sword which, based on the design, was made sometime between 1825 and 1835. We’re not exactly sure how it made it into the family. And the pistol? Well, we believe it was sold for a pittance by another ancestor of ours – an uncle of my grandmother. He was supposedly a n’er-do-well drunk, and probably stole the pistol and sold it for cash.

But Jon – what about the Barrel of Rum? It turns out that great-great-great Grandpa Jean Julien was more than just a war hero. He had a head for money, and after relocating to Louisiana he became a very successful trader and merchant. He made multiple trips to France for business. On one trip, while “sitting at the Captain’s table for dinner, he died suddenly.” Typically, if a passenger died aboard a ship in the 19th century, they were buried at sea. They didn’t have refrigeration, and couldn’t risk other passengers if the person died of some contagious disease.  “For some reason, the Captain saw fit to preserve the Frenchman’s body. The Captain lifted the hatches of his vessel and had the crew bring from below the largest cask filled with the finest European rum.” And they proceeded to place his body in the cask, preserving it for the final trip home to Louisiana. And to this day, he has a place of honor in the local cemetery in St. Martinville.

So, drink up, readers! And remember: it’s not a bottle of rum. It’s a whole barrel!

Edit: Found out that the episode is now available via streaming, so I edited the link at the beginning of the article to point to the video, and not just the transcript.

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Risks

Well, I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the murder of four Americans today by Somali pirates even as the Navy was approaching their sailboat in what became a recovery rather than a rescue. Even worse, many died in the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake. What else can I say that can add to the elegant discourse taking place in the news media and on the Internet with regards to these tragedies? Not much, I would venture – other than to paraphrase Bob Bitchin’s, publisher of Latitudes and Attitudes magazine and the TV show, famous mantra: “Live your dream – don’t dream your life“.

We all dream about how we’d like to live our lives, and how we’ll be remembered by our loved ones once we’re gone. But we keep putting it off. “The kids are too young.” “We don’t have enough money saved.” “My company needs me.” Today, the earthquake reminded us that you can be snatched from this world while you’re still dreaming. And the Somali pirate attack that took the lives of Jean and Scott Adam, and Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay lays bare the possibility that even among those pursuing their dreams we still run the risk of not surviving it.

But remember this: The Adams and Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay will be remembered for their bravery in attempting what few people attempt: circumnavigating the globe. Yes, had they not embarked on their journey, they would probably still be alive today. But they did make that leap – they did sail across the Pacific and Indian Oceans and they did lose their lives. They made us all think about how life is filled with risks. You can choose the safety and security of living a quiet life. Or you can choose to accomplish great things. Great things cannot be accomplished unless we accept the risks and try. Or like Yoda said, “There is no try”. There is only do.

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No Rest For The Weary!

Wow – January and February have just been busy as all get-out!

Our friends from Marblehead, Rick and Deb Fishkin, have just left Key West today after spending a couple days running around with us. We celebrated sunset last with a drink on their room balcony at the Ocean Key Resort & Spa. Next, we ran up and down Duval Street, ate dinner at Bagatelle and had drinks at the Chart Room Bar at the Pier House Resort and Hotel. This morning we had breakfast at Blue Heaven Restaraunt – great experience! We did the obligatory pilgrimage to the Southernmost Point marker – the purported southernmost point in the continental United States…

The visit by Rick and Deb reminded us just how much we miss all our friends from Marblehead and the Boston Yacht Club! A “friend fix” is always a great thing!

Yesterday I also mounted and did some of the wiring for our solar panels. This afternoon, I installed the first two of our new Hutton chromed bronze self-tailing winches on the mast. Only five more left! Then I have to install the whisker pole track on the main mast. The punch list seems to just keep growing longer.

We’re off to the Miami Strictly Sail Boat Show this weekend, off to Punta Gorda, FL next week for the Boston Yacht Club South Party for all the BYC Snowbirds, and then we’ll have Greg Allen and Martha Quigley on our boat since Martha’s displaying some artwork in the 46th annual Key West 46th Annual Old Island Days Art Festival – we’ll drop an update on in the next installment of “As Beausoleil Turns”!

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Sweet!

Or should that be, “Suh Weet!!!” Our new sails, that is…

After leaving Beaufort, we motorsailed down to Brunswick, GA – with the wind on our nose the whole time, so we could only put our main up to use as a steadying sail to make the ride smoother. We pulled in at Brunswick, GA and anchored off Lanier Island near the Morningstar Marina on Sunday, November 21. We could have gone further south, but I had a couple of conference calls on Monday and Tuesday, so we had to stop. We stayed there a couple of days, and then motored down the ICW the few miles to Fernandina Beach, FL. When they say the ICW is shallow, they ain’t kidding. I think we brushed all the barnacles off the bottom of the keel!

While in Fernandina Beach, Shawna’s friend Tracy from Jacksonville came down to meet us and have dinner for evening before Thanksgiving. She ended up staying with us overnight on the boat, so instead of slaving in the galley, we went out for Thanksgiving dinner (lunch, actually).

On Friday we set out for Palm Beach. We decided to stop there so our sailmaker, Travis Mack of Mack Sails, could make an adjustment to our mainsail. The sail down to Palm Beach was “sweet”! We ran downwind with about 15-20 knots of wind the whole way, running wing-on-wing with just the main and mizzen. We did as high as 7.5 knots, but settled down to about 5-5.5 knots for most of the trip. Because the wind was behind us, the apparent windspeed was only 10-15 knots, and we had just a gentle motion from the waves. Every now and then the wind would pipe up, so we’d reef in the main and the mizzen, and then shake out the reefs a few hours later when the wind dropped off.  We even gave the winches, which Shawna cleaned and greased while in Portsmouth, a good workout. What a great sail!

We made it to Palm Beach by Sunday, and Travis came by in his boat to pick up the mainsail to shorten its foot (it was about 4″ too long). He brought it back on Wednesday morning, along with our new royal blue spinnaker – a 1400 square foot monster! We can’t wait to try it out. We also met two nice couples in the anchorage – Jim & Kimberly and Dave & Carole. Jim’s retired and Kimberly’s a pilot for American Airlines. Dave’s a former Marine who does website design, and Carole’s a nursing instructor. They came over for drinks and hors d’oeuvres last night – we had a great time.

Today, we leave for Key West. We’ll stop in Bahia Honda on Friday night and say high to our old friend, Moe! Then it’s on to Key West!

Thanks for following our adventures!

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