Thursday, July 24, 2014

All Smiles at the Happy Reunion

"Don't you miss it?"


Our good friends and fellow sailboat cruisers -- more serious than us; they live on their boat! -- arrived in Chesapeake Bay. They are the couple who we met when we first arrived on Bimini, in the Bahamas, on December 23 after a rough ocean crossing. I was traumatized and wanted to fly home. Bruce and Gayleen of the vessel Pearl welcomed us at Brown's Marina, helped organize a Christmas dinner with other boaters, and convinced me to continue the cruise because "the worst was over."
Gayleen, Bruce, and Pope, on the beach in Bimini

We spent many hours with Bruce and Gayleen in Bimini, partying at Junkanoo in Nassau (all-night parade; see photo), and up and down the Exumas island chain, imbibing Dark 'n' Stormies at happy hour, snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto, and tracking down boat parts. 

All-night Junkanoo parade on New Year's Eve in Nassau

On our return to the US, we met again at a marina in Fort Pierce, Florida. 

It's our turn to show them around our home port! Naturally, we started with our traditional happy-hour special, the Dark 'n' Stormy, a rum-based cocktail that hails from Bermuda, today served on the curb in a tiny "street-end park" on the Annapolis waterfront. 

Amber, Gayleen, and Bruce creating their own waterside happy hour in Annapolis

Then on to a local seafarers' hangout (exact location a secret; we don't want to encourage the hordes of Annapolis tourists). Followed by a lift to the local Safeway-slash-liquor-store to stock up on lettuce and gin--yum, great combination--then shooed them aboard the water taxi to teturn "home" to Pearl (their boat) and their two cats.
One more night of fun and games: highly entertaining outdoor concert with the Eastport Oyster Boys singing sailing ballads of Chesapeake Bay -- "Hard Aground," "Get a Little Dinghy," "Tiki Bar." If they come to your neck of the woods, don't miss the show!
Eastport Oyster Boys at Annapolis Towne Center; photo by Bruce Donadt

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cumberland Island in Pictures

We finally got there, after years of talking about it and two false starts--the last one on our way down the Intracoastal Waterway last fall. It  stormed just as we reached Cumberland Island-- formerly a playground of the wealthy, now a national park accessible only by boat.

After retrieving our boat in Florida this summer, we sailed up to Georgia and tied up at the park's dock an hour before sunset. Quick tour:

Tree-lined drive propels you forward

Former Vanderbilt mansion: what happens when the money runs out

Spanish moss takes over the playground

Deer to human: where did you hide all the treasure?

Why did the turkeys cross the road?

Lots of marsh, oysters, birds, boardwalks

Wind-swept sand dunes

Bountiful beach for bathing in modest swim costumes

Time to leave: Echo II at the park dock as the sun drops to the horizon

Chanter un Chant de Joie, en Juillet!

(Translation of title: Singing a Song of Joy, in July)

What an exciting week!

Earlier in July, I attended a week of music camp at Augusta Heritage Center, Elkins, West Virginia.

My fellow students and I have been busy practicing. This Wednesday, I made my public debut singing a cajun French song at the monthly cajun jam at New Deal Cafe, Greenbelt, Maryland. The video is on YouTube at Check it out! 
(Video taken by Linda Bennett)

Five of us DC-based jammers were in the week-long cajun vocals class at Augusta (which was very hard!!): Sheridan, Jim, Tom, Ann and me. I was the only rank novice. (You can hear my fellow jammers cheering at the end of my song in the video!)

In the class, we learned, practiced, and drilled for five grueling days with an accomplished professional, David Greely, formerly of the band Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. We studied timing, rhythm, melody, cajun pronunciation and phrasing, and history of the music. It was difficult to learn, but so much fun to play and sing! I am grateful to David for his hard work and patience. And now, I am putting the lessons into practice.

Joel Bailes, another New Deal jammer who studied accordion for a week at Augusta while the rest of us sang, learned the accordion part for Chopique Two-Step, just for my singing debut Wednesday night. Thanks, Joel!

If you are ever in the Washington, DC area, come on out and enjoy the music -- fourth Wednesday of every month at New Deal Cafe.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sailing in the Storm...or Singing in French?

Is there a clear choice here? I think so. Since we abandoned our boat, Echo II, in Florida in April, the weather in the southeastern US has only gotten hotter, muggier, and, now, stormier. 

The no-see-ums that plagued me both in the Bahamas and in the Southeast have undoubtedly multiplied.

Looks like the big storm may have missed our sailboat, currently docked in Beaufort, SC, and moved further north.
Echo II at Lady's Island Marina

That's a relief. Pope was scheduled to fly to Charleston yesterday to retrieve the boat--just in time to tackle 85-mph winds and rain. His flight was cancelled; so we asked the marina to add dock lines and keep an eye on things.

Pope will be on his way again soon, along with Dennis, a fellow sailboat racer. Not me! I am headed to cajun music camp in West Virginia.
Last year's cajun music camp at Augusta Heritage Center

Intracoastal Waterway, lifting anchor at sunrise? Or jam sessions at midnight and two-stepping in the afternoon? While Pope and Dennis brave the heat and bugs and struggle to find deep water, I'll be dancing to "Je Passe" and singing waltzes in French.

Taking my guitar and harmonicas--though I'm a mere amateur. Most of the cajun musicians will be honing their already considerable expertise on fiddle and accordion. (I participate in monthly jam sessions with several of them.)
Local cajun jam at New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland

Stay tuned! Sailing off into the mountains soon!