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The Voyage of Spectacle Sports

The Voyage


Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Final Thoughts on St. Lucia

Posted by: melissa

Despite some of the previously described challenges of St. Lucia, we had a nice stay there.  Perhaps unfortunately for the island itself, our memories of St. Lucia will forever revolve around the Cricket World Cup and the amazing flavor it added to our experience.

Unfortunately for S/V Spectacle, we were not able to work on the boat as much we wanted.  The daily afternoon rain preempted much of the outdoor chores and woodwork (sanding, treating, and oiling), and the rail looks pretty shabby.  I did finally locate the outboard “earmuffs” (these cover the water intake for the engine’s cooling system so you can attach a hose and test the outboard without placing it in the water) and performed a successful test of the outboard.  Additionally, I cleaned and treated the fenders, and replaced their lines … a task that drove home for me how disgusting marina water really can be.  Indoor chores were partly ignored due to cricket festivities (a huge time commitment by the way) but reliable power (translate as “reliable air conditioning”) helped immensely while I treated all of the metal, polished the brass lamps, and washed everything down with wood soap.

The Rodney Bay marina has several repair shops as well as a chandlery.  We hired a general mechanic to service the water maker, which appears to work, but one can never know until it is actually running while at sea.  (Obviously, we will test the water maker repeatedly prior to crossing the Pacific Ocean.  We’ll bring more than ample drinking water, but I’m so much happier if I get to bathe regularly.)  We hoped that the same general mechanic could service the generator (yet AGAIN), but this did not happen due to a complicated series of miscommunications and misunderstandings (all of which I squarely blame on the shop’s receptionist who does nothing but scowl and read Jehovah’s Witness pamphlets).

During one of our many afternoons watching cricket at Scuttlebutts, we met a fun Australian cricket fan named Will who was in the West Indies on a contract job installing seats in the recently refurbished stadiums.  Will’s professional responsibilities came to an end in St. Lucia, and we invited him to join us on the sail to Grenada after making sure that he was neither a crazy axe murderer nor mutinous opportunist in the market for a free boat.  No offense to Will, but he’s no Johnny Depp!

After Sri Lanka’s last -second finish over England (see Sri Lanka Superfans Episode 1), we rushed back to the boat (engine still idling) to exit the channel before sunset.  Excited for a good sail (it’s been awhile since we were at sea) and full of cricket adrenaline, we headed out to sea, dodging the humongous cruise ships departing Castries harbor.

Sri Lanka Superfans — The 5 Part Series

Posted by: andy

Sri Lankan Cricket and the Cricket World Cup came to play a surprisingly central role in our lives in March and April.  The tournament just ended, and we already are having withdrawal pains.  Rather than interspersing cricket tales with everything else, we decided to consolidate them in one place.  So, in keeping with our propensity for five-part series, we offer you the chronicle of our time as the Sri Lanka Superfans.

Episode I

After our outing to Trinidad and Tom Moody’s entreaty to come watch more games, we knew that we had to join up with the team once again.

Episode II

After the game, we drove to the team hotel to greet the team bus.  There were high-fives aplenty, but we only stuck around for about five minutes.  To be honest, we were getting a little bit worried that they might be beginning to think we’re crazy/annoying stalkers.

Episode III

After talking about the trip for a while, Melissa asked them if they wanted to see the boat.  Jayasuriya did her one better — he wondered aloud whether we could take them sailing.

Episode IV

After everybody changed clothes, we were invited to the post-game team celebration at the hotel.  Once again, it was us, the families, the coaches and the team.  Dozens of would-be crashers tried to get in on the action, to no avail.

Episode V

Not five minutes later, the PA announcer came on and notified us that the game would begin at (as I recall) 12:30 and would be 38 overs per side.  “There’s absolutely no way they’re going to get in 38 overs per side,” I said to Melissa.  “I know,” she said.  “We’re going to be batting in the dark.”

Back in the Cockpit

Posted by: melissa

Welcome to Year 2 of Spectacle’s spectacular shenanigans!

You might recall that, a mere six months into our trip, a twice-busted autopilot and an obsessive cricket-related detour resulted in Spectacle being far behind schedule.  Once the Bonaire autopilot fiasco reared its ugly head, we decided to cancel our plans to cross the Pacific during Year 1, wait out South Pacific hurricane season in Los Angeles, and proceed with our voyage during the next Pacific crossing season (which opens in April).

We spent five-plus months stateside catching up with friends and family, and of course, enjoying the amenities of American life that we don’t get out here on the boat.  College football (and especially Andy’s beloved USC Trojans and long-awful-but-suddenly-good Missouri Tigers) were high priorities.  Highlights included the Cotton Bowl and the USC versus Nebraska game in Lincoln.  Since we just don’t travel enough, we headed to Sri Lanka for a two-week cricket extravaganza / wedding reconnaissance mission / post-World Cup catch up session with the team.  Additionally, it was nice to spend Christmas at home especially considering the circumstances of last Christmas!

Off to Scuba Dive the Galapagos Via Quito, Ecuador

Posted by: melissa

Live-aboard scuba diving trips in the Galapagos are extremely exclusive, and becoming even more so.  It appears that the Ecuadorian government struggles with the delicate balance between conservation, a thriving tourism industry, increased outside investment in the tourism industry, and financial quality of life for local Galapaguenos (is that a word?).  I would like to think that all aspects of the Galapagos’ well-being are strategic and defensible, but some areas felt pretty arbitrary (more on this later).  Even as I was trying to book this gig in September of 2007, several dive boats (and cruise ships) had not yet received their commercial clearance to operate in 2008.  Others who were confident of their upcoming clearance indicated that they had been booked for 18 months at least.

I finally found an opening where a single female passenger travelling alone needed a roommate, and a single male passenger travelling alone needed a roommate.  What are the odds?  We totally lucked out.  When the dust settled and the government doled out operator’s licenses, the boat I booked (Sky Dancer) was not only approved but was the only boat approved for the remote islands of Wolf and Darwin.  Total score.

Our plan all along was to sail to the Galapagos, anchor the boat, find a boat-sitter and head out on the live-aboard.  Because of the battery mishap, this was no longer in the cards, and, honestly, I was a bit relieved.  First, we weren’t familiar with the anchorages, and I anticipated the nightmares of Spectacle crashing against the rocks as we swam with dolphins.  Second, I kind of liked the idea of having the same experience as any other traveler.  And so, I booked our flights from Panama City, Panama knowing that Spectacle was safe and sound in the Flamenco Marina with Ian.

Quito, Ecuador was our jumping off point to get to the Galapagos.  The flight from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos is only about 90 minutes, but the flights are structured so an overnight in either Quito or Guayaquil is mandatory on both the front-end and back-end of the trip.  This may have something to do with the scheduling of the inevitable international flights, but I doubt it.

The approach to the Quito was fairly hair-raising. At 9,350 feet, Quito is surrounded by (active and inactive) volcanoes and mountainous peaks, some of which seemed to be right outside the plane window.  With a population of 1.5 million, many of these peaks are covered with urban sprawl that soars to heights of 13,000 feet.  The first thing I did after retrieving the luggage was scrounge through my suitcase to find the only warm clothing item I packed.  I had figured, hey, it’s Ecuador, as in the Equator, right?  But, it was quite cold with a fairly constant drizzly rain.

The View From Our Hotel in QuitoWe got to the hotel with minimal problems, but it was a Sunday and, true to our experience in most Latin American countries, the streets were deserted.  That left the inevitable hustle and bustle of this city to our imaginations.  It is very urban, but in a squatty boxy kind of way.  The architecture left quite a bit to be desired … cement-block, totally symmetrical, short storied, flat roofs, very Soviet in a way, but with some pastel-colored paint every once in a while, and lacking ornamentation of any kind (no patios, no windowsills, no roof overhangs, no awnings, no stoops, no pillars, no nothing).

The hotel was quite nice, with professional English-speaking staff.  Unfortunately, we went up to the room to find it a) not exactly what brochure purported, and b) full of someone else’s luggage.  Alas another “Wolf” registered at the hotel!  Mistake corrected, we were very happy to find our room in the recently refurbished wing of the hotel which was a lot nicer than the other “Wolf” room.  The view was pretty bleak … lots of urban sprawl and most of it just teetering on the edge of disrepair.

By this time, it was about 3:00 p.m. and we were hungry so we ventured out.  We walked around several blocks just meandering, but it was Sunday so we decided to just park it in the first place we found open.  We sat down at a little restaurant that was serving local food, found a table on their small patio, and ordered up a couple of Ecuadorian beers and (after stumbling through some Spanish) several Ecuadorian culinary specialties.  The one good thing I can say about Pilsener is that it’s large, and it’s better served very very cold, which it rarely is much to our chagrin.  The food was pretty interesting — lots of it, extremely fried, cheap, and served with pride and enthusiasm … what’s better than that?Uribe Graffitti in Quito

While walking around, we noticed a lot of anti-Uribe graffiti.  The Colombia military recently crossed the border into Ecuador to assassinate a known ranking FARC officer.  While Ecuador was pretty vocal in objecting to the infraction, I got the sense that most found Uribe’s actions to be impolite rather than anything more menacing than that.  But, as usual throughout the world, any associations with George W. Bush are poorly received.  For those of you not well versed en Espanol, “perro” means “dog” and “de” means “of.”

After lunch, we headed out to see the sights.  Basilica del Voto Nacional, consecrated in 1892, is renown for its grotesques.  We peeked in on a lovely wedding in progress, and then sat in the park gazing at seemingly endless hillsides of urban sprawl.  From the park, we caught a glance of ‘La Virgen de Quito,’ a statue of the Madonna on top of a globe and stepping on a snake.  The historic center of town is one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sights (along with Krakow, Poland), so named in 1978.  We saw some nice streets with nice buildings, interspersed with establishments such as “Texas Chicken.”  Independence Plaza is a two acre, pedestrian-only park surrounded by cafes, statues, fountains, and government buildings, including the presidential palace.  We didn’t see too many tourists, but we did chat with several friendly passers-by who seemed happy to see Americans.

After this whirlwind tour of Quito, we headed back to the hotel and watched Anthony Bourdain on The Travel Channel (yes, we miss television, withhold judgment please) who was covering a timely subject … the Marquesas and the Tuamotus.  Next we watched the NCAA Final Four and chuckled at UCLA’s defeat.


Kings Cross, Sydney, New South Wales

Posted by: melissa

The wifi in the marina is pretty unstable, and I have a lot of high bandwidth projects that need to get done.  As such, my last chore on the shaky wifi was to find an Internet café that I can walk to.  The closest was in the Sydney neighborhood called Kings Cross, which is the red light district.  This part of town is on a fairly large hill, so historically, wealthy settlers moved up the ridge away from the city slums and waterfront squalor.  Kings Cross developed into a pretty snazzy neighborhood, but as always, slums spread and the rich migrate to the suburbs.  By the 1920s, Kings Cross earned a bohemian reputation providing safe haven for artists, immigrants, and drifters.  Pubs, clubs and cabarets started to spring up, and by the 1970s, Kings Cross was a seedy and crime-ridden combination of drug addicts, mob bosses, and prostitutes. 

These days, Kings Cross has been cleaned up quite a bit, and appears to be trending upward.  The iconic symbol of the neighborhood is the huge glowing Coca-Cola sign at the intersection of William and Victoria.  While there are some sketchy pockets, I found the Cross to be very “seedy chic” and pretty much safe in a “just keep your wits about you” way.  There are lots of shady bars, sex shops, massage parlors, and of course, strip clubs, and several are quite humorous … Two Hands Required, the Bada Bing, the Pleasure Chest, the Landing Strip.  One displays a banner out front proclaiming “No NRL Players Allowed.”  The NRL is rugby league, and many rugby league players are notoriously badly behaved while fans and management look the other way.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of street people just milling around.  There’s no mistaking the drug-addicted prostitutes who hook to support their habit … they are very haggard, bruised and battered, and frequently heartbreakingly young.

There’s the occasional odd ray of hope in Kings Cross as well.  There’s a former drug addict turned street-cleaning janitor who walks Darlinghurst Road everyday bidding “G’day” to everyone and tending to those in need.  There’s the famous Russian hawker at one club who has been greeting customers at the door and protecting the strippers employed there for over 30 years.  There’s the alcoholic who sits at the bus stop on the corner of Darlinghurst and Bayswater every single day screaming four-letter-word insults at passersby.  Okay, that’s not the greatest example.  Nevertheless, the Kings Cross neighborhood appears to be improving with the appearance of higher end establishments catering to a normal crowd (restaurants, grocery stores, etc.), rather than the street crowd (strip clubs, massage parlors, etc.).

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