Thursday, January 23, 2014


PTSD - Post Traumatic Storm Disorder

Whats this? Niki Wiki at a dock during cruising season?
Another storm was racing down to us from the north too soon after that last big blow. Jonesy and I both were still feeling traumatized. We jumped at every breeze that was stronger than a whisper and kept checking our anchor chain. So we decided to swallow our pride (of anchorship) and headed into the new/old Roatan Yacht Club Marina where we slept through the night during the next storm.

The Roatan Yacht Club had fallen into disrepair the last time we were in Roatan. But some new folks have taken an interest in developing it and have added brand new docks including dedicated dinghy docks, refurbished the bathrooms and shower, and improved the walkways. They have lots of future plans to make this a cruiser destination and we applaud them! The price is right too!

Life is easier in a lot of ways here at the little Roatan Yacht Club. Not only do they have a reasonably priced restaurant with great food and a pool, there is also access to the main road and the Eldon's grocery store is just a few steps away! The other two marinas here in French Key/French Harbor are not within walking distance of shopping or taxi transportation.
Roatan Yacht Club

Our plan was to just stay a week. As so often happens (cruisers' plans are written in the sand at high tide) we changed our minds and are staying a full month. Why? Serendipity, that's why. It so happens that the skipper of another boat here used to work for the manufacturer of our Gulfstar boat (long out of business) and Jonesy eagerly picked his brain about our Hood in-mast furler motor. See, it stopped working so we were having to manually release and haul in the main sail. Not fun.

With these new tidbits of information, Jonesy decided to tackle the removal of the motor from the mast. This necessitated removing the boom from the mast which we would only do while safely in a marina. After several days of saturating the corroded and
Roatan Yacht Club
firmly stuck bolts with WD-40 he got them loosened! That's the good news. The bad news is that the motor is actually broken - as in the support for the "brushes" is in little pieces. Our new friend has the telephone number of a guy in Rhode Island who had a replacement motor! It can be very difficult to find certain parts for these older sailboats.

After a couple of phone calls back and forth to the states and the magic of PayPal (thank you everyone who has purchased my knitting patterns!) we now have a motor on it's way to a freight depot in Florida. From there a local air shipping and logistics business (RAS - Roatan AirExpress Service) will have it sent by air to us here on the island.
Roatan Yacht Club Restaurant patio
In the meantime, we are enjoying life in our new temporary home. Other cruisers come by to enjoy a meal or adult beverage in the restaurant which has a nice breeze and view of the harbor below. The $2.50 dinghy fee is waived with a purchase at the bar or restaurant. This is the easy way for folks to get to town or pick up a taxi to go to Coxen Hole, etc.

This has been a very rainy January so far which means that we've also spent a lot of time just hanging out on the boat. We are so looking forward to February when we expect the trade winds to start to pick up and to have long strings of dry days and lovely breezes.
Roatan Yacht Club path to restaurant

Beginning February 1st, I will be leading a Learn How to Knit Socks Knitalong on the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group. So far there are over 200 brave folks signed up to participate! We will be using my Plain Talk Socks pattern, sock/fingering weight yarn and double point needles. We are going to take this very, very slowly and will knit a plain sock, cuff-down, with a traditional heel flap and gusset and a Dutch/square heel. I'm really looking forward to  this!

In the meantime, I've been finishing up some baby items for a submission to a future publication. Here's a little lace-trimmed hat and mitten combination worked up in Socks That Rock yarn - soft merino superwash wool.

I don't have a toddler available for a photo so this is one of my plastic mixing bowls wearing the hat. The flower topper is simply the same lace work as on the edging of the hat and the cuff of the mittens but then is gathered together to make the flower. The top of the hat is finished with a small amout of I-cord tubing. The tubing is inserted into the center of the flower, then tied into a knot for a bobble/center.

The sun is shining today - the front hatch is open over the V-berth to continue to dry out the cushions which got wet in the big rain storm (another item on the "to do" list is fix that dang hatch). It's time to get some lunch for Jonesy then head up to the Roatan Yacht Club for an art show at 2pm and a meet-up with my knitting and cruising buddy for some knitting time.

Life is good.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


SOCKUPIED Spring 2014 eMag

The latest issue of Interweave's Sockupied eMagazine, Spring 2014, is now available for download. Why do I mention this? Ta-Da! Because this issue includes not only my new Spectrum Socks pattern but also an article I wrote to share some of my hints for successfully knitting color stranded socks!

I wrote the article, the pattern, and knit the socks way back in July of last year. A dear friend and I had been email corresponding about her socks which were knit with the stranded colorwork (Fair Isle) technique. We discussed various solutions to the "too dang tight" problem. So that was my motivation to write the article - might as well share these tips and tricks to all sock knitters!

I do love it when knitters ask me for advice or question a knitting method or their results. It MAKES me think about what I am doing as I knit and WHY I do what I do. I also find that often their questions make me a better knitter because I get out of a knitting rut that perhaps doesn't produce the best results in my own knitting.

Spectrum Socks can be worked with any color of yarn including tonals, hand-dyed and yes, even some wildly colored or self-patterning yarns in some of the sock areas. Just be aware of where you're using these fun yarns. Here are some photos of other ways that I've played with yarns using this pattern.

These swatches on the sock blockers here all use the same yarn as in the "official" pattern photo - Cascade Heritage sock yarn. Very nice stuff.

But I also worked up some using a Knit Picks Stroll Tonal sock yarn (springtime color) as my base green color and various other yarns for the accent colors. On these I also eliminated the colorwork on the feet because I wimped out I like the contrast between the fancy leg and the plain foot. And who sees your foot when your'e actually wearing the dang sock in a shoe anyway? Sheesh.

No, I haven't blocked the green socks yet which is why they look a little bumpy.

Also, I tried a more "metro" look with black Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn as the base and teal with tan for the accent colors. I'm looking forward to seeing what other knitters do with this simple stranded color-work pattern! Note: sailboat and many other designs of these wooden sock blockers are available Chappy's Arts and Crafts eBay store.

I hope you decide to download this great eMag from Interweave and try your hand at color stranded socks! For $7.99 you get SIX sock patterns and a lot more fun knitting stuff to read and learn. Now ask me more knitting questions. That's one of my favorite things to ponder when I swing in the hammock up on the bow in the evening trade winds with the twinkling stars.
Life is good.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Riders on the Storm

NIKI WIKI in Gale Force winds at anchor Roatan, Honduras
I guess you could now officially call us "Riders on the Storm". Last week, we had a hairy couple of days riding the winds, heavy sideways rain and waves of gale force winds (clocked by a fellow gale-rider at more than 50mph) in the anchorage here in Roatan. Usually anchorages are in safe harbors, and usually French Cay Harbor, where we are, is pretty calm. But when the winds blow hard from the "wrong" direction we get blasted and bumped.

No, the forecast didn't call for winds anywhere near the speeds that we encountered. We had the pleasure of experiencing the bizarre twist that the winds from the north (thank you very much) took when they hit the land and mountains of northern Honduras. There they bent 90 degrees and came at us from the South-West. Most of the Caribbean area had winds from the North-East. Nope. We didn't miss those - we got those too at first. Then suddenly after 24 hours of that torture, the winds flipped and came howling the other way for another 24 hours. The good ship Niki Wiki tugged at her anchor (and 225 feet of heavy chain) like a wild stallion at a bridle. The horse won.
Baby Blanket

Jonesy and I had to take turns doing "anchor-watches" and alternating those with sleep (or lack thereof) in 4 to 6 hour chunks over those 2 days. If we had not done that we would have been in deep trouble. We dragged the anchor - twice! That means we suddenly started sliding backwards and sideways as the wind caught our side. We never drag anchor. But then we never had encountered such strong and steady winds or a storm that came from two distinctly different directions.

As we have small islands and reefs surrounding us, we had not even 2 minutes to spare when the anchor let go to get the engine started and us moving away. At times we even simply sat in the wind with the engine running just in case.
Baby socks

The end result is that Jonesy - soaking wet - got us saved both times. I managed the engine and steering and stayed dry in our cockpit thanks to the new canvas and plastic zip up enclosure! We entertained ourselves by knitting and reading - all night - with our trusty headlamps.

What knitting? Well, I've been working on several new baby-focused projects and of course socks. I'll post more on that later when I can get some better photos in this beautiful sunshine and tropical breeze weather we've got now.

So that explains a couple of days of our lives here on Roatan, Honduras. But wait, there's more! We've been very busy with socializing with fellow cruisers.
Jonesy and Gordon in Cruiser's Uniforms
Here's a (rather blurry due to overcast conditions and crappy camera) picture of Jonesy and Gordon (s/v N'Aimless) at the recent Christmas dinner at Brooksy Point Marina. Note that they both are wearing their Special Cruiser's Event uniforms. Nice tropical collared shirts without any rips, patches, or holes.

The folks on catamaran s/v Ultra have really been working hard lately on many special events. My favorite is the Bare Butt Sunday morning pancake and breakfast taco events at the new Cruiser's Tiki Palapa at the Fantasy Island Resort Marina (see photos below).

Both of these marinas are just a quick dinghy ride away from our boat. We've had beach gatherings, movie and popcorn evenings, group bus rides to the grocery store and back, and happy hours.

Of course, we'd be crazy if we didn't get out and snorkel when the weather allows it! We know that storms from the north are to be expected through next month and we are waiting patiently for March for the beautiful weather here. But we don't have to wait quietly! Here are some photos of this past couple of weeks....
BARE BUTT Sunday Breakfast at Fantasy Island (yes, it's fake)
Cruiser's TIKI PALAPA at Fantasy Island Marina, Roatan
Terry and Saundra (s/v Island Sol) go snorkeling on the reef
Jonesy talking, Terry knitting at New Year's Day beach party

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