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Thursday July 4th, 2002
Fourth of July
in the Tobago Cays

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays back at home. I can't remember the last year I missed one of my friend Greg's infamous Ocean Beach Blow-Outs. This year, we would not only be outside of our country, we wouldn't even have any other Americans to celebrate it with. But our new Aussie and British comrades stepped up to the plate and we had a great day regardless. I spent the morning in town buying a birthday present for Curt (since this may be the last populated island we may see for who knows how long) before we headed south for the Tobago Cays. Curt and I had a great sail: blaring Steve Miller, Jackson Browne, and Jimmy Buffet in the manner of obnoxious Americans. We arrived to find True Blue and Jammin' in a little corner of the Cays in a backdrop that was so gorgeous it didn't seem it could be real. A horseshoe reef surrounds a sprinkling of unpopulated islands. Whatever you imagine a deserted Caribbean island to look like- this is probably it. Conch shells are everywhere on the paper white sand, and palm trees are swaying along the horizon. The only way to get here is by boat- so that must help to keep it so pristine. We couldn't resist whooping like little kids before cannon-balling over the side for a swim. That night, True Blue had us all over for a get together and we decided we'd have a proper Independence Day style barbecue tomorrow.

Friday July 5th, 2002
Our Beach BBQ in the Tobago Cays

What a great day we had! Woke up to an overcast sky that slowly unfolded into something more sinister looking. By noon the horizon to the east looked like a coal colored chalkboard. We could see the wall of rain when a boat anchored no more than half a mile nearer to the squall disappeared behind it. It was wild to sit and watch the rain and sea blow by at forty knots. We listened to the traffic on the VHF to hear boats traveling together underway check in with one another about how to proceed.

When the squall passed, we hopped in the dinghy with True Blue and Jammin' and headed to the other side of the cays to go snorkeling. It was unreal! The water was so clear it was like swimming in an aquarium. I've never seen a wider variety of fish, and we even caught site of a Nurse Shark. John, on True Blue, is a PADI dive instructor, so I felt better knowing we had an expert on hand to give us a head's up if we were to run into any danger.

Afterwards, we all headed back to our boats and each of us put something together to share for a beach barbecue. When we beached our dinghies on the little deserted island and all unpacked, we had chicken kabobs, rice, baked potatoes, and a bean salad. The guys rummaged around the brush to put together a fire to grill on and we ended up with a really delicious meal.

I'm not sure who instigated the challenge, but the surrounding coconut trees prompted the guys to each have a turn at trying to climb to the top to grab some. None actually made it, but we knocked a few out of the tree and entertained ourselves further by opening them to have a taste of the meat inside. Maybe they weren't ripe or something, because it certainly didn't taste very good.

All told, it was a fun day. There's talk of clamoring aboard True Blue for a quick sail over to the island of Mayreau tomorrow… to check out the little island

Sunday July 7, 2002
The Last Name of Force Five

Jammin' left today for Carriacou, and then they're off to Tobago tomorrow (much further south and not associated with the Tobago Cays, where we are now). We dinghied over to say goodbye with True Blue. We exchanged email information and I realized it was the first time I had heard their last names. I'm learning that among cruisers, your boat name becomes your surname. We're not known as Curtis and Allison - we're known as Force Five. I suppose it makes the name of your boat that much more important, as it becomes a part of what identifies you. However, though her name didn't hold any special meaning for us when she became ours, I still can't really see renaming Force Five. She has her own identity and history, and neither Curt nor I want to erase it one fell swoop. I don't know if everyone else feels this way about their boat, but for us, we are so proud to be affiliated with the heritage of Force Five and those that have sailed her before us- we kind of think it as a sort of boat family. We're always proud to have inherited her good name.

It's strange bidding farewell to friends and not really being certain when or where you'll see them again. None of us have any definitive plans or timelines, so it makes things a bit difficult. We know Jammin' will be somewhere on the island of Tobago probably through October, so when we make landfall there perhaps we'll try to contact them on the VHF or send them an email to try to put together a rendezvous.

Around noon, we motored with True Blue over to a small little island, Petit Tabac in hopes of having it all to ourselves. We found the entry to the anchorage pretty tight between the reefs and we could see a weather front coming through on the horizon, so we opted to go back to the Tobago Cays and anchor in a new spot. We dropped our hooks no more than five minutes before the first winds and rain were upon us. I had hoped it was just going to be a short squall, but it lasted most of the day. I made a pretty decent batch of stuffed manicotti and we used the rest of the day to do chores like cleaning the oven. When the weather lightened enough, Curt and John went off to do a little snorkeling and came back with some red snapper and even a little lobster which Curt whipped into a delicious curry that the four of us enjoyed on Force Five.

Monday July 8, 2002
Tobago Cays

As I write this, Curt has just constructed a kite from trash bags, a broken crate, and fishing line. He and John are sitting in a dinghy to see if they can get it to fly… to no avail.

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