to begin.


as wicked storms rolled into spring park bay tyler, mike and i would plop a 6 ft sunfish into the angry, angry waters. our knowledge of sailing was nonexistent, and our ignorance made us fearless. 3 high school kids were beyond capacity for this mighty boat. and when the gale force winds got the better of our overzealous heeling, we'd capsize.

stretch, stretch to save our fallen crewman, scramble on the belly of the boat, and then heave all our weight on the keel to flip the beast back over.

soaked and with furious gray clouds above, we sailed onward, only to repeat this joyful turmoil.

ooh the beginning.

the answer to a legit experience on the ocean sea comes from a 35 ft ketch named cappella. she's on her way home to sweden. as of 2.17.11 mats, the 45 yr. old captain, is awaiting my arrival in st. vincent & the grenadines.

the following gnarnia is an attempt to document the journey from the southern caribbean and beyond.

i am no writer, i've never sailed in salt water, i haven't journaled in years, i have no idea what to do when i return home…but…i just bought my first pair of shorts in like 10 years…so…

these entires are meant for myself and anyone remotely interested.

this is.

The Valinor Collective

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

natch-ral st lucian vibes.

so, after the exhaustive passage to St. Lucia, we are at ease anchored in rodney bay. customs was a breeze, and the officials were surprisingly friendly. got some wicked stamps and wandered the recently developed marina equipped with several nice restaurants, some gift shops, an organic fruit and veggie stand and loads of dock slips. some of which were occupied by a couple 70-80 ft megayachts and gorgeous sailboats. after a substantial dinghy ride back to Capella, the sail covers were strapped on and the sun shade situated over the cockpit.
somehow, someway, 4 fishies, maybe 8-10 inches long found their way into the bottom of the dinghy. how the got there i have no idea, but they were flippin and floppin around looking very confused about their new environment. i was stoked. í've never properly filayed (filetted?) a fish before and mats admitted he was no expert on the matter, so i scopped up the buggers, filayed (fillayed?) (filetted?) them as best i could with his partially rusted filet knife and fried em up that night. so it was, the first caribbean fresh fish dinner.
(from mats' little digi cam)

mats was made his first 'merican pb&j sammich. i had to assure him that the 'tropical fruit spread' and the thickly sliced wheat bread didn't exactly meet 'merican standards. weary at first about the peanut butter, once he tried the combo he was all about it i think. there's some weird stigma about pb in europe. it's hard to find and the average european finds it gross, though many have never tried it. one of them has been succesfully converted. now, he can be found reaching for it nearly every morning. 
on the northern part of rodney bay lays fort rodney. built in the late 1700's by the british, the remains can stiill be seen and walked through. old canons and decaying brick structures are the main attraction and atop the hill provides an amazing view of the entire bay.
(mats' little digi cam)

getting an actual good night sleep is becoming more frequent. i'm adapting adapting to this heat and constant subtle rolling of the boat. gone are the sweaty, drenched nights where i only find solace by laying on the cool steel of the cockpit.

we made our way into Castries, the capitol of st. lucia, by 'bus' when a cab quoted us like 25 bucks for the 5 mile cruise. we opted for the less than a dollar 'bus' ride. the 'bus' is an astro-van type thing with no authoritative or visual markings. nothing to help newbs and tourists like us in distinguishing these vehicles between pubic transit or some rando island broha looking to pick up confused tourists. we took our chances. slid open the side door, just like when mom would pick us up from soccer practice, squished all the way in the back and we were rollin 15 deep with mats and i as the only white guys.
st. lucia is a volcanic island which makes flat land and flat roads pretty rare. twisting, twisting, turning and honking, hills and turning. the sides of the roads are saturated with dense green vegetation. finally, we pull into this tiny sea town of Castires. 
with no plan nor map, we were left to wander and soak in the ridiculously narrow streets and overly vibrant technicolor painted buildings. there was a tiny store for everything. what would take one stop at target back home would take you a trip to a handfull of stores in Castires. after a good hour and a half of wandering, the sea village had been conquered. a local brew, piton, was enjoyed on the water next to a massive cruise ship in the harbor. after another stimulating 'bus' ride we were back to safety in rodney bay.

pork chops were made for dinner and i actually peeled potatoes on a sailboat. that quintessential task that all crewman back in the day did. peeling potatoes. what better way to finish off the meal than with the last homebrew? the Bourbon Barrel Stout. i neglected to put into account that all the luggage tossing, altitude changes, heeling, wave crashing and rolling tide would have a substantial effect on this carbonated bottle of beer. after a delightful meal and anticipation, it exploded everywhere in the cockpit. mabybe half the bottle was salvaged. but what was salvaged was damn good.

i was wandering the marina, scoping out the luxury yachts and gorgeous boats, and got to talking with this local broha named trevor. we hit it off and he told me about the island, whats good, whats bad, whats up with this crazy french-english-caribbean infused language. super nice guy. "anything you need mon," he'd say. he offered to take me to the southern part of the island where an active volcano supplies an area with a sulphur spring and waterfall. i took him up on the offer after he said we'd split gas and cruise. word.
we met the next morning and he introduced us to his mom, the owner of this tiny restaurant by the water and his little girl."natch-ral vibes" everything was. the sea, the cruise, the food we ate, the local green he smoked, the bob marley he rolled all of it had good "natch-ral vibes." st lucia and their vibes.
with roosters roaming the streets freely we started heading south through this twisting, twisting, turning landscape of st. lucia.
after numerous stops along the way to take pics, try the local food and feeling the 'natch-ral' vibes we came upon Soufriere.
the sulphur springs lay IN an active volcano. the nutrient and mineral, enriched mud was slathered  all over our bodies as we were instructed to do. apparantly, every sunday people from all over the island flock to this place to bathe and slather on the mud...and feel the natch-ral vibes.
(st lucian trevor and his friend lisa)

after the slathering we cruised to the beach where the the deux pitons, the two ciffs in the pic above, just tower over you. it was pretty stunning. it was around this time though that i started realizing that this was trevor's job and we were paying for his services. although trevor and lisa were insanely nice and there would've been no way we'd make it to the springs otherwise, it bugged me that after it was all said and done we paid considerably more than just gas. haha. lesson learned. but we no doubt felt the vibes mon

3.17.11 at around 7am we set sail northward for martinique. one of the few french occupied islands in the caribbean. with a little over 100 nautical miles of sailing in the books, here we are in martinique. baguettes, broken french and all.

good vibes. good things.

Monday, March 14, 2011

cherry poppin.

on the eve of departure from Bequia (bek-way), as we sat and ate our din din, this gorgeous sun was setting at the mouth of the bay. here, so close to the equator, there's no lingering dusk or long, golden hour like the midwest. there is maybe a 15-20 minute of beauty, then the sun is like, "eff you í'm out." the contrast between the firey golden sun and the deep blue ocean makes the water appear insanely vivid.
the sun finished off its descent just behind this sea cliff where atop rests an old barracks. still chilin are like 4 cannons from back in the day. darkness came, stars were out, and we were left to eat by kerosene lamp

tomorrow we'd set sail.

we said our goodbyes to Bequia, i waved to the three-toothed rasta bro who sold us our fruits and veggies and  then cleared customs/immigration. I officially became a crewman aboard Capella and got wicked stamps in my passport to prove it. unlike europe, these caribs love their stamps and i'm all about it.
we dinghied back to the boat with clearnace papers in hand. it was time to set sail. Capella was prepped. removed the sail covers, took down the sun shelter, deflated the dinghy, filled up with 90 gallons of fresh water and then we were crusing westward out of harbor.

this surging baller status was at near capacity as i stood at the bow. the wild blue yonder due ahead. my right hand grasped the sidestay for balance. I attempted robo-baller status by not holing on, but that was out of my league in ballerville, for i feared falling overboard.

we were actually heading out to sea.

(insert photo when developed)
mats turned us into the wind. i raised the mainsail, tied it off then scurried back into the cockpit to await my next order. the mizzen sail was raised, tied off and i went below deck to snag my camera. this monumentous occasion needed documentation. the genoa was unfurled once we were on course clear of the lee of the island. now she looked like a real sailboat.
we worked in 4 hour watches. my first watch went from 8pm-midnight. the sun sank like a rock and darkness surrounded us and the boat. at the start of my watch, mats went below to get some sleep and left me with the sole instruction of not to hit anything. seemed simple enough.
it was a surreal feeling sitting alone in the back of the boat, darkness everywhere, only hearing the wind that slowly pushed us north and waves breaking on capella's hull. there was this golden sliver of moon that lingered on the horizon and the amount of visible stars was unreal (sorry jim, it might've beat the grand canyon). we were about 75 nautical miles to St. Lucia, and on my first watch i could see the faintest glow of it on the horizon. we pushed on with phosphorescent in the wake.
due to our direction and the wind direction it made for a gnarnia filled cruise. the boat seemed to be in constant chaos, we were heeled over like 20-25 degrees the entire time while sloshing up and down. the simplest action of moving about the cabin took well grounded feet, a bracing hand or two and determination.
not long into my watch the wind shifted and the boat stalled and went into irons. all the sails flapped crazy loud as if they were furious with what had happened. i was alone in the cockpit and we start turning completely around. after a mini pani attack, i calmly called for mats. he awoke and fixed it like it aint no thang.

surprisingly, the only time i felt sick was when i tried reading during the first watch. it didn't help that i was reading about the shipwreck of the Essex and after 90-something days at sea in a small whaling boat, 2 guys were found sucking the marrow out of their fallen crewmember's ones. (thanks, reade) that was when i had to put the book away and groove to some radiohead.
my eyes were getting obnoxiously heavy, and i was doing the tired, dozing, bobbing baby head thing for like 45 minutes until salvation came at midnight and mats took watch.
the wind wasn't on our side and while i attempted to sleep mats viciously tacked into the wind. i awoke to the entire boat shifting to the opposite side and an insanely loud cranking noise as the genoa was brought to the starboard side.

my 4am to 8am watch started and i was damn tired. the novelty of this whole sailing thing was wearing. wearing until the sun rose behind the clouds that hovered over St. Lucia's two peaks. rays of morning light beamed through those fluffy big guys.

(goog images)

we expected the cruise to take maybe 16 hrs. it took 26 due to the wind. finally anchoring in Rodney Bay, we ate mats' bachelor specialty of cooked pasta, canned weiners and ketchup. it was sustainance, that's all that mattered. i collapsed into bed and 13 hours later awoke to the caribbean sun.

cherry popped and i can dig it.

northward for martinique on thursday.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


so, apparently it raises red flags when a young american dood flys to st. vincent on a one way ticket.

these red flags were neglected to be brought to my attention when i left the u.s. not until i was several miles from home, on an island in the caribbean sea, sleep deprived and with a wicked cold was it pleasantly brought to my attention. at 4:30 in the morning on the 1st of march, i tried to board my flight from barbados to st. vincent but was denied access. only after some scuffle and working with 'officials' did they offer me the option of purchasing a 'faux' ticket home for a date that i entirely made up. i mised my initial flight due to the unforseen drama. they put me on the next one. arrived in st. vincent, over paid for a taxi and tipped the broha. at the time i knew nothing of caribbean customs. in hindsight, i now understand his dumbfoundedness. hopped the ferry leaving for bequia, the dood cut me some slack when i was 3 dollars short. he recieved a high five in exchange.

we rounded the point and made our way into this tiny island bay. it was littlered with mid sized sailboats from around the world, and docked at the back of the bay was this gnarly opulent yacht. a short, stout swede with skin that shows he's been at this lifestyle for the past year and a half., was awiting my arrival. we exchanged smiles and a handshake and he led me to his dinghy. there was no apprehension, no butterflies and no apparent fear leading up to this moment. just this is what is happening and so it goes.

bequia (bek-way), thrives on tourism. often locals are found laying underneath a tree in the shade, standing around a broken boat or playing dominos near the water. it's the ultimate chill sesh bru. then when put behind the wheel they turn into a 17 yr old asian, fast and the furious honda owner.

coming on day 6 here in port elizabeth, living aboard capella is becoming normal. either her cramped quarters are starting to acclamate to my 6'2"ness or it's the other way around. our days are at the mercy of the sun. waking up and going to sleep in near tandum. when not hiking around the island or reading on the boat i'm picking mats brain about everything sailing. oh how i will to sail around the world. the seed is planted.

until my hot pics get developed, google images will have to suffice.

off to st. lucia on monday.


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