September 30, 2012
Saying Good Bye

September 15, 2012
Reflections on Our 27 Year Circumnavigation

September 1, 2012
Sea of Cortez Sailing

August 15, 2012
Back to the Sea of Cortez

August 1, 2012
After Circumnavigation: What to Take, What to Leave Behind

July 15, 2012
Mexican Booby Trap

July 1, 2012
Tackling the Tehuantepec

June 14, 2012
Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico

June 1, 2012
Sailing northern Costa Rica and Nicargua

May 15, 2012
Costa Rican Cruising

May 1, 2012
New Found Friends in Golfito, Costa Rica

April 15, 2012
It’s a Jungle Out There

April 1, 2012
Hunting and Gathering in Panama

March 15, 2012
Money.... Money.... Money

March 1, 2012
Feel Free Transits the Panama Canal

February 15, 2012
Transiting the Panama Canal

February 1, 2012
Feel Free is Back in the Pacific

January 15, 2012
Charter Skipper for a Week

January 1, 2012
Confessions of a Charter Cat Chef

December 15, 2011
Away to the Andamans Part 2

December 1, 2011

November 15, 2011
Sailing in a Freshwater Paradise

November 1, 2011
To Barf or not to Barf, that is the question

October 14, 2011
Remarkable Cruisers

October 3, 2011
The Sea of Cortez, Another World

September 15, 2011
Panama Canal Here We Come

September 1, 2011
Sailing for Humanity

August 15, 2011
A Hard Lesson on the Hard and Reflections on Boat Work

August 1, 2011
Here Come the Lion Fish

July 15, 2011
The Joy of Books

July 1, 2011
The Sailors of San Blas

June 15, 2011
The Good Life in Kuna Yala

June 1, 2011
The Dirt Dweller in Paradise

May 15, 2011
People of the San Blas, Then and Now

May 1, 2011
Cruising in Kuna Yala

April 15, 2011
Near Disaster in the San Blas

April 1, 2011
At Last in the San Blas

March 15, 2011
Chilling Out in Cholon

March 1, 2011
Ah, Cartagena!

February 15, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 2

February 1, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 1

January 14, 2011
Aruban Interlude

December 30, 2010
Hunkering Down for a Hurricane

December 15, 2010
A Day in the Life - Our Passage to Aruba

December 1, 2010
Stuck in Curacao

November 15, 2010
Stormy Night Sailing

November 1, 2010
Sailing In The Sticks

October 15, 2010
Safety, Security and Circumnavigating with some tips on how to stay safe

October 4, 2010
Feel Free Transits The Suez Canal

September 15, 2010
Red Sea Sailing

September 1, 2010
FEEL FREEs Voyage Into the Red Sea

August 15, 2010
And just a little further, to Curacao

August 1, 2010
Bonaire Diving

July 15, 2010
Then To Bonaire

July 1, 2010
Cruising Remote Venezuelan Isles

June 15, 2010
Cruising St. Vincent

June 1, 2010
Right Place, Right Time

May 15, 2010
The Spice Isle

May 1, 2010
To the Grenadines

April 15, 2010
We Be In Barbados Mon

April 1, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part II

March 15, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part 1

March 1, 2010
Provisioning for the Atlantic Crossing

February 15, 2010
Atlantic Crossing Preparations

February 1, 2010
Cruising the Canary Islands

January 15, 2010
Out Of Africa

January 1, 2010
Come With Me To The High Atlas Mountains.............

December 15, 2009
Two Years Of Mediterranean Sailing

December 1, 2009
Moving On To Morocco

November 18, 2009
Leaving The Med

November 13, 2009
Reaching The Rock Of Gibraltar Milestone

October 15, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del Sol

October 1, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del High-rise

September 15, 2009
Sailing The Spanish Isles

September 1, 2009
At Sea Or On The Hook, These Recipes Travel Well

August 15, 2009
An Interlude At Menorca

August 1, 2009
A Pleasant Passage To Menorca

July 15, 2009
The Agony And Ecstasy Of The Tunisian Coast

July 1, 2009
Tripping Around Tunisia

June 15, 2009
Tales From North Africa

June 1, 2009
Dont Freak If Your Fridge Fails

May 15, 2009
Into Africa

May 1, 2009
Meandering Around Malta, Then Off To Tunisia

April 15, 2009
Low-Tech DIY Ideas For The New Economy

April 1, 2009
The Med Set A Few Cruiser Profiles

March 15, 2009
That Sinking Feeling

March 1, 2009
Thailand to Oman: Three Passages, Three Ports

February 15, 2009
Doing Hard Time in Malta

February 1, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 2

January 15, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 1

January 2, 2009
So Many Islands, So Little Time

December 15, 2008
Cruising With The Bear

December 1, 2008
Versatile Vinegar, The Boaters Friend

November 15, 2008
What I Did In This Summer -- Dock Masters In paradise

November 1, 2008
Over The Top Of Oz

October 16, 2008
The Tumultuous Tasman

October 1, 2008
Sweet Memories Of The Splendid Surins

September 15, 2008
And Then We Were In Malta

September 1, 2008
Feel Frees Siracusan Story

August 15, 2008
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

August 1, 2008
All Tied Up In The Ionians

July 15, 2008
A Greek Odyssey Our Journey to Ithaca

July 1, 2008
Anatomy of a Near Catastrophe

June 15, 2008
Good-bye Turkey, Hello Greece

June 1, 2008
More Winter Cruising in Turkey

May 15, 2008
Winter Cruising in Turkey

April 15, 2008
Talking Turkey: Marmaris Marina Living

April 15, 2008
The Joy Of The Side Trip

April 1, 2008
Return to Marmaris, And The Budget

March 15, 2008
Passing Time And Dodging The Meltemi

March 1, 2008
Home Sweet Home

February 15, 2008
A Little Working, A Little Cruising

February 1, 2008
Working Our Way Around The World

January 15, 2008
Welcome Aboard Feel Free

January 1, 2008
Liz Tosonis and Tom Morkins Feel Free

January 1, 2008
About Tom Morkin and Liz Tosoni

January 1, 2008
About Feel Free

January 1, 2008
Voyage Itinerary

June 15, 2010
Cruising St. Vincent

By Liz Tosoni

I swear. The most dangerous part of sailing around the world is not at sea, it’s on land. Being a passenger in a vehicle with a driver who thinks he’s in the Indy 500, who speeds up steep hills and around hairpin turns, swerving, passing slower vehicles, deeking back into his own lane milliseconds before what appears to be an imminent head-on collision, is far more dangerous. My chest was pounding with the vibrations of the reverberating, pulsing reggae music, my heart was in my throat and my stomach in a knot when we arrived at our destination on St. Vincent Island. We weren’t happy we made it, we were surprised! “Valium before that ride would have been a smart idea” quipped Tom wryly. Yikes, we may as well have been on a Fun Park ride.

Not only are many of the minibuses on this island fast and terrifying, they also have names that seem to make a statement about their characters: Back Off, Grand Hustler, Addicted to de Hustle, Busted, Survival Instinct, On the Run, Flipper, Venom, Cobra, Squealer, Code Red, Krap, One Blood. Ours that day was Scarface. Some of them are more spiritual in nature: Amen, Gifted, Faith, Bless, Hallelujah!, For the Glory, Hope and Prayer, Higher Heights, Forever Grateful. Others could be the names of boats: Tanya, Yankee Girl, Shorty, Tommy, Abdullah, Sunbeam, Sammy.
Our destination that blustery day was the base of Mt. Soufriere Mountain, the second most studied volcano in the world after Mt. St. Helens. Walking the rugged trails and reaching the top to view its verdant cone was perfect recuperation after that hair raising minibus ride from hell.

We arrived in St. Vincent after a short but fast sail from Bequia, which was beautiful flat sea Caribbean sailing, just as the brochures describe. Then came the rude awakening. We’d been warned by Chris Doyle in his Sailors Guide to the Windward Islands as well as by other cruisers, about the St. Vincent “boat boys” who want to help you upon arrival, lead you to a mooring, tie your lines, be your tour guide etc., all for a fee of course. Doyle states: “Men in rowing boats still approach you from as far away as three miles asking to take your stern line ashore and want you to tow them to Wallilabou. Refuse all such offers. If you do tow them, and their boat overturns (a likely scenario, it has happened to me), you could be liable for their boat and any personal damage. In any case, there are always plenty of line helpers in Wallilabou itself.” He actually recommends certain ones.

With the help of his outboard motor, Franklin was the first to come to Feel Free to solicit our business. “Welcome to Wallilabou. My name is Franklin.” We had read that the Wallilabou anchorage will answer VHF Channel 68 and give directions so that’s what we did, telling Franklin we’d made arrangements, and took a mooring from Ron who quietly helped us with a mooring and then tied our stern line to a post on shore, happily accepting EC$20 from us. Franklin was not happy. “I was here first, mon. It’s first come, first serve. I am telling you. Do you understand me?” He went on and on angrily. We honestly feared a fight would ensue but none did, thankfully, and we settled into this ‘knock down dead beautiful’ setting.

Our afternoon entertainment was watching the other boats parade in, with the attendant carryings-on by the eager lads, hoping to be guide to the nearby waterfall, sell crafts, local produce or even “the herb.”

Our visitors included friendly, entrepreneurial dreadlocked Rastafarian “Bugga” who came with his rowboat brimming with local produce. He drives a hard bargain but we both ended up happy, us with a nice pile of oranges, grapefruits, limes, bananas and a few nutmeg thrown in for good measure, he with a pocket full of cash from us as well as the other boats. “Be happy” were his last words as he rowed off to shore in the dark.

Kelly (16), Joey (17) and “Littlemon” (18) were three aimless youths looking for something to do. “We can help you. We can cook and clean. We want to see another place.” From them we learned that until the age of 16, school is free in St. Vincent but after that you have to pay. They didn’t have the money and there was no work for them so they were hoping for something from among the yachts. With the high rate of unemployment, and a poor economy, no wonder crime is on the rise.

Wallilabou is where the Disney movie Pirates of the Caribbean was set and ashore, it’s fascinating to explore the mini museum of materials and artefacts left behind by the producers. It was, while in this gorgeous spot, that we learned of recent yacht burglaries in the area, including Wallilabou, so after two days there, we decided to head to the “Young Island Cut”, just 10 miles down the coast close to the capital, Kingstown, where we had heard it was more secure.

You might be getting the idea that Tom and I were starting to dwell on our safety and you’d be right. From several sources we had learned about yacht break-ins and even violence against “yachties” during attempted burglaries. The most recent Caribbean COMPASS, a well respected monthly cruiser newspaper, reported the arrest that month of a young man, Kenroy Grant, 28, for repeated yacht burglaries in St. Vincent.

When our friends in Grenada were having custom fitted stainless steel bars fabricated in order to lock themselves inside their boats and the bad guys out, we kind of pooh-poohed the idea. We thought it was a bit over the top, a foreign concept to us, it just seemed to go against the grain of cruising. But here we were, thinking along the same lines. What if someone tried to enter the boat in the middle of the night with everything wide open? We would be totally vulnerable, unable to defend ourselves.

So, our ship’s carpenter Tom got proactive and began taking steps to at least make it difficult for a would-be burglar to get inside our boat. He took metal and wood flat bars and screwed them in place in the forward sail locker. Anyone trying to enter the boat via the forward locker would have to first remove sails, and then try to figure out how to get through the bars leading to the forward cabin.

Both of our companionways can be locked from the inside with barrel bolt locks, but in all our years of cruising, we had never done such a thing. I remember thinking, when we bought Feel Free how bizarre- why would anyone want to lock themselves in? It seemed ludicrous, but here we were doing it for the first time in more than 25 years of sailing. So we spent our remaining nights in St. Vincent, locked inside the boat, with a few things at the ready in case of an intruder: air horn, whistles and mace. As it turned out, there were no intruders during our stay in St. Vincent, but we at least felt safer in the knowledge that defence measures were in place, that a “Pirate of the Caribbean” might give up rather than try to enter a secure boat, or so we hoped. I don’t mean to put you off St. Vincent. It is in fact a stunning island, with charming people and fabulous produce.

It was in the lively market in Kingstown, the capital, where we began to appreciate many of the special foods of the Caribbean. Breadfruit, for one. You may recall from history class that breadfruit was what Captain William Bligh carried to the Caribbean to be used as food for the slaves. It didn’t work out as planned as the slaves refused to eat it, but now, it’s a staple. Amelia here, has a unique method of baking breadfruit using a shopping cart. She makes a fire in her mobile oven, then roasts the breadfruit in the coals and voila, it’s done. At $5 each, she does all right!

Dasheen, christophene, papaya, sweet potatoes, pamplemousse and callaloo are some of the other exotic foods we’ve been learning about and incorporating into our galley cuisine. We learned the hard way that callaloo, a type of spinach, is delicious, especially if served in coconut cream, but must be cooked for a minimum of 30 minutes. Tom was positive he was dying after popping a raw leaf into his mouth! The tingling in his throat lasted for a couple of hours.