The last few months have been fairly hectic. Our granddaughter, Shelby and her mom, Heather, spent 5 months living on board “El Gecco” with us. We sailed from Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico, then on to the US Virgin Islands, Anguilla and to St. Martin on the French side where they left and returned to living ashore. The voyage was filled with ups and downs, equipment failures on board, but we met some wonderful people along the way. Customs in Anguilla has been among the best so far on this trip. Their island depends on tourism and hence they have made the entry process easy, though they limit where one can overnight in anchorages to preserve their reefs. Customs regarded themselves as an extension of their tourist office, willing to make taxi or car reservations, telling us what we must see. I had engine issues and they had a coast guard person come out right away to help me resolve my issue at no cost.
St. Martin has become a mixed bag. As always, the food on the French side is amazing and I am lucky to have departed just a few pounds heavier. Again we made some incredible friends and got to spend quality time with them, got work done on board and relaxed. Unfortunately crime on the French side has become bad with boats being broken into inside of the lagoon. It was easy to travel from here on business making 2 trips off the island. There is a dock close to the airport that costs about $5 per visit which was cheaper than taking a taxi and dealing with all the traffic.
Darlene and I sailed directly to Trinidad to haul El Gecco out of the water and get work done. We went to Power Boats for the haul out, and I am most impressed by the yard. Don who is GM is a catamaran sailor and owner having built his 46 ft cat and has created a wonderful set up for getting cats out of the water on an under hull lifting system. It was drama and stress free and he has a great team that works in the yard. It is clean and they are most accommodating. One cannot go to a better facility. We have replaced the broken depth sounder, rebuilt the engines again (unfortunately some things in the DR were not completely done). Ken who has worked for me on El Gecco spent two weeks sorting out all the issues that included trouble shooting the engines wiring systems, fiberglass work and replacing parts of our Profurl roller furling system that has worn out after some 15,000 miles of usage. We found a broken strand in wire of the forestay, so replaced that and re-tensioned the wing mast to get less sag on the forestay.
My speaking and investing business has taken far afield meeting many interesting clients and attendees. Last week I did 6 breakout sessions for EO at their NERVE 2014 conference that entailed three one hour sessions on the first day and three more sessions on the second day. Yesterday in MN I addressed the HR leaders of General Mills. It was one of the rare occasions they brought an outside speaker in and received a huge standing ovation. Seeing their headquarters was interesting how they have used old space with new space, sculptures and art work to have more of a gallery feel with a main street that has banking, shopping and dining on it for employees. Many employees do not have cubicles any longer, but a locker and mobile computing/phone set up that allows them to move around the buildings to where its most conducive to meet and work. Had dinner with two of their employees afterwards to learn more about how travel in South Africa where one young woman lived for a year with a Zulu family and prior to that spent weeks at a time across several Middle Eastern countries shaped her views and has opened her mind to finding ways of addressing poverty. The other woman has spent 17 years with the company and seen progress for a different perspective and it was really a wonderful education of listening to them talk about their different ways of life unified by common corporate interests. One came from a conservative religious based background changed by her experiences abroad, the other from a liberal background in a conservative region where caution was the societal norm. It is so invigorating to see the dreams and aspirations of others within the structure of their organizations, the internal conflicts of career and choices, but most important the hunger to be a better human being.