A Pirate’s Life for me

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When you are dating someone who fancies himself a pirate and loves all things piratey, you will find your travels sometimes lead you to the black flag and rum.

It was the last of the family cruise, and we were sitting at breakfast. The ship hadn’t even pulled into Nassau, but my family was already busy talking about the day ahead itinerary.

“I promised Christopher we would go see the Pirate Museum,” my cousin Alexa said.

“There’s a pirate museum, here” OJ perked up, and I knew at that moment that somehow, someway, we were going to see the Pirate Museum.

It took us one crazy buggy ride around the island, getting lost, Kalik Gold and a bartender to find it. But we did.

And boy was it a tourist trap! Cheesy, yes, but if you’re a lover of pirates or a history buff, this might be a place to check out.

IMG_0552.JPGThe museum, located on King and George Street, is part historical information and part “the real” pirate experience”. This museum takes guests on a tour of 1700 century pirate life, no romance included. Times were hard, life was short, and the rum wasn’t always rum. This museum showed you the Un-Disney side of these men and women in an unapologetic and historical way.

The pirate career wasn’t all singing and chasing wrenches around.

You enter an old building, and the stage is set at what the docks of Nausea would have looked like back during the Golden Age of Pirate. Most pirates came into the trade by escaping another one – the British Royal Navy. You are a young, pressed into service man, who somehow has been able to jump ship and you find yourself in another world. A stranger comes up to you, promising riches and freedom. So you join.

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The first room you enter is the town of Nassau, back in the days of pirates. It is twilight, that dock creaks as you walk (it actually creaks). On your right is your ship, waiting for you. The left is a tavern where drunken laughter can be heard. The smell of tar and sea water is all around you and for a moment you are transported back. All it needs is a couple of drunken sailors and a one-legged prostitute named Sally, and you are back in pirate times.

I will have to admit whoever built the room, did a good job. The details are amazing, and if you like me who likes to find the hidden details at Disney, then you will enjoy exploring the docks. I had heard rumors it was one of the set designers from Disney. I would believe it.

Next, you board a ship (by gang plank) to see what life was really like on a pirate ship. And if this was supposed to be better than the British Navy, then I would hate to have been in the Navy. By the way, it isn’t very glamorous. To begin with there are cramp dark sleeping arrangements with 50 of your nearest and dearest friends, a diet of bug infested crackers, and a doctor/barber/ship carpenter who ways of solving all your ills is by either cut it off or bleeding it. The museum tries to paint a truthful unromantic reality that was pirate life. As you wander the ship, hearing the rats scurry around, smelling the odors (which is foul) and hearing the crew going about their daily life, you have to wonder why would anyone sign up for this.

The next room you enter is better decorated, as you enter the governor of Nassau office as he deals with pirates (If you can’t beat them, learn everything you can about them, and then use them to your advantage). There are displays that talk about the pirate code (or guidelines) pirate justices (get into trouble you get marooned with a pistol and a bullet) and the government fails attempts to control them. You learn about the people who supported their way of life. Someone had to build the ships and make the sails.

The next area is where the cheesiness comes into full force. If you have small children, you might want to skip this room all together. In a dark room, you get to witness a pirate battle first hand.

Basically, it’s a bunch of dummies dressed in pirate costumes with a lot of loud sounds and bright noises. Not much to write home about, but it’s kind of hard to stage a battle with real people and explosions for every drunken tourist then wanders in. So I guess in some ways this is as good as it going to get.

But seriously, if you have small children skip this area, it’s loud and dark.

The last part is dedicated to the artifacts that have been found on, around, and under the Bahamas, including cannon balls, bottles, and weapons.

The Museum cost about $20.00 and takes about 30 minutes (if you just skim through the museum, for those who like to read everything, plan on at least an hour) It does have a lot of information that paints a very colorful picture of pirate history and life. Something that Disney and the romance novels leave out.

I found it very interesting and OJ was like a little kid in a candy store. It is something worth checking out, especially if you love history and pirates.

IMG_0553At the end is a gift shop with a bunch of pirate themed stuff. Oj bought a flag (which somehow we lost) a bandana, an earring and patch. Since our next stop was to find some Conch Salad, he decided to wear the bandana, earring, and eye patch.

What can I say, I love my pirate!

 

 

 

 

Once Upon a Time

The Yachting Lifestyle is Hard Work

                Sometimes an experience catches your eye, which you have no clue what it is, nobody you know has done it, or doesn’t show up on any blogs, but you have to do it.

                Why, well it looks like fun.

                In my household, we have different jobs. OJ is the IT Specialist, Head of the Accounting Department, and the Dishwasher Loader Specialist. My jobs include Social Planner, Meal Planner, and Travel Coordinator. As long as we have been dating, I have been in charge of doing the travel planning, arrangements, packing, and getting us to wherever we are going.

I do “planning” for a living, so I am sort of an expert and one day, I am planning a posting about how I plan.

                Getting back to the story, we were going on a cruise and as the travel coordinator, my job was to figure out and book the excursion. OJ only had one request, so I was pretty free to make the decisions on it.

               IMG_0456 I happened to be working on St. Maarten, when I came across a little blurb about one of the excursions. Regatta – race around beautiful St. Maarten on an actual American Cup Racing Yacht.

                I thought, cool go cruising around the island; OJ will love that. So I signed us up.

                Here comes the part where Norwegian Cruise Lines didn’t explain much. Yes, you are on a racing yacht. Yes, your crew (guides, teachers) are actual professional sailors, yes the both boat and the sailors have been in the American Cup, and yes, you do race around the island. But you do the work.

                That’s right, it wasn’t a cruise around the island. It was an actual race, where you as the tourist, are part of the crew and expected to do your duties; even if you have no clue what to do.

                But let’s back up. First off, after two days partying at sea, we had to wake up before six to catch the dingy to the spot where we meet our crew. There were about 60 of us and were divided into 3 groups and assigned a boat. OJ and I were assigned the True North (cool name). Then you were assigned a job; mine was Right Back Mass Wrench– or as I called it, I was the right mess of a wench for the job.

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My job was tighten and untightening the rope for this wench.

                Oj did something with the mass up front that they needed a manly man (their words not mine). Him and another young man, that looked just as wide awake as I felt, were assigned the manly job of opening and closing the main sail.

                Then we took another dingy out to the boat. Once on and in our places, the crew of three taught us all we had to know. Since at the max there are about 10 professional crew members who do about six different jobs at once, it was kind of understood that mistakes were going to be made by the 20 of us.

                My job was tightening and untightening a rope. And for some reason, I messed it up a couple of times. I blamed this on the lack of coffee and two days of partying at sea.

                Once the crew thought we had our jobs down to where we weren’t going to run a million dollar yacht into the beach, we did a practice round. A nice slow warm up jog around the island, in which we found out sailing is very hard work.

               IMG_0451 Then we got ready; a gun went off we were racing. The sails at full mask, all of us trying to do a job, that a normal crew member would have done, plus five others at the same time. The captain is yelling orders. And all of us having no clue where we were in the race.

                It was a glorious mess, but so much fun. On our second lap (I think) we were allowed to take a break, while our captain gave a rousing speech.  Something along the lines of how when we go home at the end of the day, just remember one thing…our answer if asked how we did is… we won.

                We also toasted our fellow crew with water, since they didn’t want a bunch of drunken novice plowing their million-dollar ship into the rocks.

                Then we started the final lap. All this time of tightening and untightening a rope, I had no clue where we were or how are we doing. I did look up once to see the other two ships behind me.

                “Are we winning,” I asked one of the crew members who was in charge of my area. She looked back and then said. “We are in second right now.” Then she pointed to the ship that was the farthest back, “They are winning by a long shot.”IMG_0455

                To this day, I still can’t figure out how she figured that one out.

                Our last lap was done (about 1/3 of a small Regatta race) and we were exhausted. Tightening and untightening a rope is hard work. It turns out we got second (hey, we didn’t lose).

                Usually, there is a lesson at the end of these blog posts about something I learned. A valuable secret that will change the way I look at the world. Well, here it is…sailing is hard work.

Also if you get a chance to do this, stop drinking the day before.

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Competition

We’re going to NEED a bigger boat!

I stared down into the pool-blue water wondering if this was going to be the end of me. A couple of feet away a dorsal fin skimmed the water before returning to the depths. I was supposed to catch a flight home later today, and I wonder if work would take the excuse of dying as a reason for not showing up.

Somehow I doubt it.

“Are you sure about this,” I asked my best friend.

“I’m sure,” she said. The look wasn’t convincing.

“You know a bunch of Marines back out of this.”

“Marines are chickens,” she laughed not meaning it.  

“Well, at least I’ll have a good story about how I died once I get into heaven.”

 I willingly and knowingly jumped into the chum water with a bunch of sharks. And I also paid about $100 for this experience.

I took a final look, adjusted my mask and scissor dove into the water to meet the creatures of the deep.

When Aimee had picked me up at the Honolulu Airport at 8 pm a week ago. She excitedly told me that she had made reservations for us to go shark diving with a bunch of Marines, my jet-lagged brained thought this would be cool.

Now I am not too sure about it.

Halfway through the week, when the Marines started to back out, I should have thought this over.

But it was too late now. We were two miles from North Shore and I had already paid for this.

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I opened my eyes to see hundreds of bubbles rushed past me to escape what was coming up from below. Raising from the abyss, was at least 20 sand and white tip sharks. Each one of them comes close to see what this strange device that has entered their world and if it is edible.

They aren’t that big, maybe 4ft, but they still sent my heart racing and the adrenaline flowing each time one of them gets close enough to pet.

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Smiley the tiger shark

On the boat (the cage wasn’t far from it), the captain yelled for us to see this. Out of garbage bag that had been sitting close to him, he produced a giant tail of sword fish he had caught yesterday and threw it into the water.

A couple of seconds later, I could hear the Jaws theme music play as a 12-foot female tiger shark rose from the abyss, ignoring us and headed towards the fin.

“Hey boss, Smiley’s here,” yelled our guide who was bobbing inside the cage with us. His job was to make sure we don’t try to pet the sharks and takes the occasional picture of us with our cameras. Turns out sharks don’t like being petted.

“Smiley,” you named a shark, Smiley,” I said. He pointed to a smiley face tattoo/scar on the right side, just below the dorsal fin. Wondered what the story was behind that scar was.

10398381_1119143346893_7086229_nSmiley, the tiger shark, was happily chewing on the tail, as a couple of sand sharks tried to grab it from her. At some point, she decided to stretch out underneath the boat… and holy crap, she was bigger than the boat.

Turns out Smiley loves sail fish tail and usually waits just below the ability to see line, just to see if the crew had brought her one. She only makes an appearance if she gets her favorite treat.

“They get to know the boats,” said our guide. “We don’t have to chum the water, they show up before we even start,” he said. “They know the vibrations and come.”

“Yet you still chum it,” I said, thinking how excited the captain was about the sail fish tail. Not that I was too crazy about swimming in the water with fish guts.

 “Respect,” our guide told us. “The ancient Hawaiian believed that sharks were the guardians, they protected them. If you were a warrior and died protecting the chief, then you would be reborn as a shark. It’s all about respect, they come visit us, we should bring them presents.”

10398381_1119143306892_4131961_nUnder the water, we are up to 30 of them, and for some reason my body is not getting the adrenaline pump as before. I am calm and peaceful as I watched them play tag in the water. Maybe the afraid has turned into fascination because they aren’t here because they want to eat me, they are just as curious about us as we are of them.

About 30 minutes go by before we get back into the boat, the cage is lifted out of the water, and the motors start. By then most of the sharks, including Smiley have returned to the great abyss. We head back, Aimee talks about shrimp carts and food. We can’t decide between shrimp or dumplings.

The wind is blowing and a rainbow stretches across the land. What a way to end an incredible visit, and as a reminder of the Aloha spirit, the gods not only let the warriors of the past visit us, but gave us a beautiful rainbow.

10398381_1119142266866_2869394_nWhat amazes me the most is the respect. Even though our captain and guide are natives Hawaii (or have some connections), and they make their money off of letting tourist have a not so cheap thrill. They still see these creatures as guardians and not cold-blooded killers. To them, they bring the fish guts and a favorite treat, not to get the attention for the tourist (there were only two of us), but because they respect them enough to bring gifts.

I have other stories from that amazing week out there, but going shark diving (as crazy as it sounds) was epic.

Fear Factor
Aloha.

 To see more of my Hawaiian Adventure
Fishing

 

 

 

 

Travel Guide to NYC

Great blog on suggestions on traveling to New York. I also like she adds a little of each area.

Sophia Cho

Hello hello! To start off, I’m currently in Korea (you probably knew that already), but I’ve prepared a travel guide for the perfect trip in NYC. I’ve been working on this post for a while now, so if it seems odd that I’m writing about NYC while in Korea, there is my explanation.

I’ve been around the city all my life, and over time, I started to memorize and keep track of some places that aren’t talked about, but should be visited a lot more! Sure, there’s Times Square and the Statue of Liberty that tourists like, but I believe the true adventure lies solely in the places I have for you today.

The first thing I want to point out is use the subways. Tourists seem to believe that taxis and Ubers are the best options, but that is totally false. I assure you 7/10 taxi drivers experience some serious…

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Wynwood, Miami, 9th Feb 2016 #4

I havery heard about this from some of my students. I have plans to go see this this winter when a friend is down.

Antti Johansson

My fourth set (and the last one) from Wynwood. Big thank you to all street artists in Wynwood and across the globe. Without you streets would be so much boring.

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