We live on a boat, some folks who read this do, or have too. Ours isn’t a big boat by many cruiser’s standards but too big to take to the dock all the time and stay within our budget. So we also have a small boat, a “dingy”, to get to-from shore with stuff and us of course. You know laundry, groceries, rum, boat parts, walks and all those kind of things. And there are “dingy” docks, some owned by cities, some marinas, restaurants etc.

    Generally cruisers spend enough $$$ locally that it makes good sense to have a “dingy” dock. Generally at busy “dingy” docks, folks use long painters so everyone can maneuver in and out regardless if the “dingy” is double/triple parked. Generally if you have a big boat you either hire/pay for a slip or get a “dingy” to get to and from shore. And there is my rub.

Dingy to the left (blue/graythird row)
is our 8 1/2 footer for comparison
We DO have a Tiller extension though!
    At what size is it no longer a “dingy”? Perspective perhaps…if the mother-ship is 36 feet a big “dingy” might be a six or eight footer. But if the mother-ship is say 100 feet will a 12 footer suffice?  It doesn’t seem to.

    We’re in the USVI’s right now and even for this 24+ year US Air Force veteran who’ has witnessed a few big “dingy” contests, it’s a bit overwhelming. I mean damn, some of these really qualify as mother-ships. Every day there are a ½ dozen plus rigid and RIB boats with outboards exceeding 40 horsepower, several in the 14-18 foot, 100-140 hp range, electric start, integral navigation lights and GPS/chart plotters. Is that a “dingy”?  This more rigid platform, convenience, and additional size could be an offset for the effects of age and lost dexterity allowing people to do things they love much later in life. (Pfizer analogy SO tempting here) Mostly though it seems they are young crews, owners, and guests of very large and quite expensive yachts.  So it’s probably big and fully outfitted just because it can be.

     While there are rarely hard rules there are conventions, like the long painter I talked about. It’s just being considerate of others so most people do it. But not everyone, so sometimes there actually are rules. Annapolis for example has a rule for their “dingy” dock limiting size to (hope I remember this correctly) 14 feet. Oh that’s right, there are rules here too. Limit is 12 feet, no locking, and no overnight. Hmm.

    Options: the “dingy” dock could get bigger; “dingys” could get smaller; or maybe those non-“dingy” i.e. pseudo mother-ships could hire slips. Meanwhile our painter keeps getting longer and the off-loading more challenging as we climb over and through the “dingy” mass/mess.  Good news—Lynn has only gone in once. Not here.


Moko Jumbies

I know, I know, moko jumbies sounds like a good rum drink. They are, however, stilt dancers. Towering god/ghosts who watch over their villages and who can see evil coming from their lofty height. The origin of moko jumbies depends on whether you read Wikipedia the St Croix Visitors Info. They came from Africa, added in some Caribbean voodoo and some European religions and are now unique. However they came about, they're a blast to watch as they dance down the street or on the beach. The troop here preformed at the Jump Up last Friday night. I apologise for the dark photos, there were too many bright lights against a really dark sky. It was too much for my limited photo skills.

The top of an SUV is just the right height for strapping on the stilts.

                                            Next, getting into costume.

                                                             Dressed and ready to go.

                                                                  Chillin' with friends.

                          More waiting. Their eyes are kind of unnerving when you get close.

                                                             Taking a bow after the dance.


Street Scenes

Some different scenes from around the VI's. You never know what will be painted on the sides of buildings. It's one of the things I like here, it's not just the generic gangbanger f*** stuff.

I think this was an ad for something, I just couldn't figure out what.

An interesting trash barrel.
Chalk on a wall.

An abandoned building.

...and we know what you're thinking.

Highway signpost.


Thru fair weather or foul

     In seasickness or health,
     showers or not,
     from sunburn to dusk,
     and saltwater to fresh...

I think maybe cruising couples should take vows before they leave the dock. Go though a little pre-cruising counselling, perhaps?  How many of us really know what we're heading into when we 'go cruising'? The strains it can put on a relationship? The fear and the doubts? Can we be prepared for it? (OK, just so I don't scare our girls, this isn't one of those stories about how we fell apart because of cruising. We're still married and we still like each other!)

Funny thing: as I'm sitting here trying to write about relationships on a boat, Steve, who is taking the auto helm motor apart said "I could use a little whack with the hammer", so I picked up the hammer and gave him a little whack. So easy to be cooperative and get along on a boat.

We had no idea what we were getting into with the boat or in terms of 'us'. I had never been on a sailboat until the day we moved aboard, 10 years ago. It was a steep learning curve. When we left to go cruising 4 years ago, Steve had just retired after 24 years in the Air Force. He had traveled A LOT. Our girls were both out on their own.  So there I was, a career military wife: independent, capable, resourceful. I was used to spending my off work time however I wanted. Suddenly, (and it really was sudden: we went from living at a dock and having a car, to neither, overnight). So it really did seem sudden to me. Suddenly we were doing laundry together and shopping together and walking together and eating every meal together, going everywhere together. It was too much togetherness for me. After 6 months, I was taking the cat and leaving. We obviously weren't working well together.

It can be a really hard thing, this learning to ignore each other nicely in a small space and not get your feelings hurt. To understand when your partner needs some mental space and let them have it ( and I don't mean with a hammer). To be generous in forgiving small things. To take and to give. To remember to laugh with each other when things really suck, instead of placing blame. It's been 10 years since we set out on this particular journey and we've learned more about each other in these 10 years than in the 20 before that. We keep learning because we keep changing and we keep changing because we keep learning, about the world and about ourselves.

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