Monday, June 26, 2006

Steel Pan Band

June 26, 2006   Monday                    

Saturday night was the steel pan band and barbeque over in Prickly Bay.  Five of us shared a taxi from our marina.  None of us would have gone because a taxi would be too expensive for one or two people, but the trip becomes financially reasonable with five people sharing the cost of the taxi.  The pan band was very good.  Bill and I chose to eat a plain pizza rather than the barbeque, although their barbequed chicken and sides did look good.  The restaurant is owned by an Italian guy and they cook wonderful pizza.

We had a very pleasant evening, mostly visiting with an interesting woman named Greta.  She owns Enza Marine and the Prodive Shop in Prickly Bay.  Her husband is a pilot back in the states and is under contract to work a bit longer, so she is on her own most of the time locally.  They only get to see one another every few months.  But when his contract is up then they plan to go back to living on a boat, so they can deal with this temporary arrangement.

Sunday morning someone was trying to launch a smaller power boat here at the marina and everything went wrong.  Judy took a few photos and will link them to this posting.  They eventually got the boat into the water, but the trailer suffered a broken axle and a flat tire.  But at least the boat was not damaged. 

Also, the Diesel Duck arrived at the marina yesterday.  This boat was built in Canada at the dock factory that is also owned by the marina owner.  It is owned by friends of the marina owner.  Diesel Duck is an adorable trawler that can also sail without engine; only at speed of 4 kts, but they can actually sail that boat as long as the winds are 15 kts or higher.  It looks like Puff ‘N Toot from the children’s books.

Later in the afternoon we took the dinghy over to visit Aubrey and Judy on S/V Veleda IV.  Their Ontario 32 is an interesting little boat.  The manufacturer basically figured out how to get the interior of a 36-ft boat into the hull of a 32-ft boat.  Actually a comfortable boat with a home-like feeling to it.  None of the fancy things like self-tailing winches, but a well-built and very well-designed boat.  But they are far braver than us because neither of us would want to cross an ocean in that small of a boat, and they have crossed the Atlantic twice in it.

Then we went over to Hog Island.  A local guy sets up a barbeque and bar on the beach there for cruisers on Sunday afternoons.  Bill and I just split a Coke and each ate a single piece of chicken.  We are very low on EC currency and didn’t have enough cash to purchase a whole meal, besides we weren’t that hungry in the heat.  Did not find the group in attendance to be particularly interesting or entertaining.  One man talked a great deal about how he had ridden out Hurricane Ivan on his boat, so now is the ultimate expert on that topic.  Not too sure that these beach gatherings of cruisers will be of much interest to Bill and me in the long term, but we will give it a few more tries before writing off that activity altogether.

 We have deliberately let ourselves dwindle down our supply of EC currency because we aren’t sure just how much longer we will stay here in Grenada.   Trinidad does not use EC, so we want to spend all our EC before we leave Grenada.  But this morning we committed to attend the Fishermen’s Birthday on Thursday, so we will need to make another trip to the bank ATM in St. George’s this week as we now know that we will be here at least until Friday.

We have paid for this marina through July 3, but our actual date of departure will depend on the weather.  We have been watching carefully for the past week.  This afternoon would be an excellent time to depart for the passage to Trinidad, but we want to visit the “fishing capital of Grenada” for their annual celebration on Thursday.  Should be a touch of local culture and has been highly recommended by others who have seen this in years past.

Oh yeah, last week we met an incredibly interesting guy; neither of us remembers his name.  He owns The Albatross, which looks just like it sounds.  He does all kinds of salvage work and is quite a character.  He is a German/Russian; speaks 7 languages; and he has been all over this world.  We nicknamed him Tiger; because he was actually born in a Tiger tank in 1943.  He may be the only person in the world who was born inside a Tiger tank.  Bombs were falling all over the little town in Germany and his mother went into labor.  The safest place she could think of was inside a Tiger tank, so that is where he was born.  His father (whom he never met) was a submarine commander and was killed when his boat was torpedoed in Africa.  His uncle was also aboard that submarine and he survived the sinking.  Tiger later went to Africa and actually found the remnants of the submarine in which his father died.  It is still lying in a river in Africa.  He would love to salvage it but it isn’t practical because there is a very strong current in that river and the salvage job would be very costly.

Tiger has a collection of 4 boats, 3 of which he salvaged after Hurricane Ivan and now owns.  One that he has owned for some time is a very large Ferro cement sailboat.  It is an exact duplicate of the one that the author Robinson sailed to that South Pacific island many years ago.    Tiger reminds Judy of her father; so very alike in so many ways.  Tiger is the son that Norman Fisher should have had.  Tiger asked Judy if she was German and learned that her fraternal family had originated in Hamburg, where he also has family.  Judy told him that her grandfather’s name was William Frederick August von Herzig, and that the US immigration changed his name to William Frederick Fisher when he entered the US about 1898.  Tiger thinks Judy should visit Hamburg and research the family because he thinks that name is of aristocratic origins.  Judy doesn’t believe in that crap, but a trip to Hamburg might be nice someday.

Bill is wiring our alarm system today in preparation of our upcoming trip to Trinidad and then to Venezuela.  We have an alarm system that has pressure sensors that are being placed under the deck at 8 locations around the boat.  When we activate the alarm, then a 120dB two-tone siren sounds whenever someone steps within 3-4 feet of one of these pressure sensors.  We also want to wire it to the deck lights, but that might be somewhat of a challenge because the alarm system is 12V and the deck lights are 24V.  We might try it anyway, our thinking being that the lights would still come on but they just wouldn’t be as bright.  We need to think about that a little more and see if we can devise a solution.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

First cruiser Pot Luck

June 24, 2006  Saturday

One of the cruisers anchored out behind Hog Island got together with Russell, who is docked in the slip in front of us, and they came up with the idea of having a potluck dinner at the clubhouse here at our marina.  They thought it would be a good way of introducing some of the other cruisers to this bay and marina.  The owner of the marina agreed to hire taxis to pick up people from 2 other bays, and it was broadcast on the VHF cruisers net on Thursday and Friday mornings.  The potluck dinner was last night.  I think between 20 and 25 people showed up. 

Cruiser potlucks are very common.  Usually they are held on a beach with no facilities whatsoever.  Find a tree branch to use for a seat or sit on the sand.  This one was much nicer because it was held in the marina clubhouse, which has a pool table and a great stereo sound system with TV and DVD player.  They moved the grill under a tent next to the clubhouse.  The whole set-up was quite nice.  Three of the women loved doing karaoke.  Judy abstained from that and took photos of them instead.

Let me explain how these potlucks work.  A British woman talked to me about this last night.  She did not understand how Americans do potluck dinners.  In the UK, they assign each person to bring a particular dish, so they have a well-rounded meal; that is what they call a potluck dinner.  The typical American cruiser potluck dinner is different.  Each person (or couple) is supposed to bring a dish to serve 8 people; doesn’t matter what kind of food as long as you bring enough to feed 8 people.  That means there is always sufficient food and sometimes leftovers.  Of course, you might end up with all salads or all deserts or all rice dishes (that happens often since rice is so plentiful in boat galleys).  It truly is just pot luck as to what type food will be served.

We grilled 2 pork tenderloins that had soaked in Judy’s spicy lime/ginger marinade overnight.  Sliced that into medallions and arranged on a serving tray with a dish of brandied/gingered/cooked apples in the center.  That was a hit with the entire crowd.  We also made some brownies and they were another big hit.  Chocolate is always a fave.  There were at least 6 different kinds of salad and 2 other deserts and one chicken dish.  Plenty of food and an interesting variety.

We met some interesting people, particularly a young couple who are on a steel boat with their two teenage children.  They are headed in the same direction as we plan.  Their final destination (temporary, as always) is the Sea of Cortez.  They made it sound so good that maybe we will look into going there also.  They have friends who have been living on their boat in Mexico for a couple of years.  They rave about how nice, safe and inexpensive it is to live there.  Maybe we will check it out.

We have figured out to get off our #2-Woburn mini-bus at a Shell gas station and walk through the station down the hill to another road and get on the #1-Prickly mini-bus in order to get to the two better supermarkets on the island.  Did that Thursday and managed to do some grocery shopping and to visit a chandlery to browse. 

This morning we tried to repeat that trip, except on our return trip we managed to get on the #2-Calvigny bus instead of our usual #2-Woburn bus.  In our defense, the number 2 is printed really large on the windshield and the words are in smaller print beneath the number.  We did not realize our mistake until we were already jam-packed into the bus, so we decided to just go with it and consider it a tour.  This bus began on the regular route that we normally take, but instead of turning right towards our harbor this bus continued to the northern half of the island.  We asked and were informed that they did indeed make a circle back to St. George’s, so we figured that the worst-case scenario is that we would eventually end up down in the city and could then catch the correct #2-Woburn bus.  We had about an hour tour of the eastern half of Grenada, up into the tops of the mountains with beautiful views.  Eventually the bus started back towards the city; we recognized the main road to our harbor and got off; then immediately got on another bus going the correct direction.  So, our return trip ended up costing us $18 EC instead of the normal $4 EC.  But that is the cheapest way to see a lot of the island.  An actual taxi tour of that distance would have cost probably $140 EC.

BTW, we have decided to forego most of the tourist things to see on Grenada.  It would cost us $125US each to go see the turtles.  We cannot see spending $250 to go see turtles one night.  We can do the same thing in Trinidad for $40US per person.  Since we will be in Trinidad longer, we will wait and do it then.

Tonight there is a gathering at a bar in a nearby harbor.  There will be a steel pan band and fish fry and pizza.  Supposed to be honoring three French boats that are arriving in some race or something.  A number of the people who were here last night will also be at the Tiki Bar tonight.  It sounds like fun.  Five of us have arranged to share a taxi so we can attend.

Oh, yeah; that Shell gas station.  It is like going back in time to our childhood.  There is at least one attendant at each gas pump, all wearing Shell uniforms.  Like it was when Bill and I were children.  Wish I had brought the camera.  Self-serve gas stations have not made it to the islands yet.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Surprise!! That sail is really an shade awning!

June 21, 2006    Wednesday

After the rain finally abated yesterday afternoon, we were both a little stir crazy.  Just had to get out of the interior of the boat for awhile and move around a bit.  So what better thing to do but go through all the cockpit and deck lockers and rearrange everything.

Judy has harped the entire trip that the liferaft should be stored in the cockpit locker.  If we should ever be unfortunate enough to actually require deployment of the liferaft, it would be much safer to deal with it inside the cockpit.  The liferaft has always been stored in the deck locker which is just outside the cockpit on the port side.  That locker is extremely deep, well in excess of 6-feet deep.  The liferaft is very heavy and requires both of us to lift it.  The only way to remove it from that deep deck locker (even when calmly tied to a dock) is to use a halyard and winch it up.  Now, if we were tossing about in heavy weather, then that might not be so easy to do and to control.

Anyway, Bill finally capitulated and agreed to move the liferaft into the cockpit locker.  Guess he decided that Judy just would never shut up about it otherwise.  The cockpit locker is more than 8-feet long,  over 2-feet high, and about 6-feet wide; so there is more than adequate space to store the liferaft and also to store just about anything else we might want to put in there.  It is a huge locker.  We have numerous large heavy plastic bins that fit into the locker, which we use to organize cleaners, waxes, oils, buckets, sponges, etc.  Keeps everything nice and tidy and easily accessible.

So now our liferaft is safe and happy in its new home and should be able to be accessed without us having to go out onto a stormy deck, should the need ever arise.

While going through all the lockers, we found a treasure.  We found a custom-made shade awning from Amel that was packed into a sail bag.  This awning has never been used.  We doubt that the previous owner even knew that he had it.  It provides shade from the aft side of the main mast all the way to the back of the cockpit; also has side panels and aft panels so that the cockpit is fairly well enclosed for shade.  Had we known this awning existed then we would not have ordered the center/main section of the Shade Tree awnings.  Could have saved about $800.  This large Amel awning did take us twice as long to install as the Shade Tree awnings do, but that probably was because we had to figure out how it was supposed to fit and where to tie it off on various parts of the standing rigging.

We are most pleased with finding this treasure.  Also, now that we have emptied the port side deck locker, Bill thinks it would make a perfect location for a spare diesel tank.  Our boat holds 160 gallons of diesel, which is a large amount for a sailboat; but if we do the South Pacific then there is one section that is a 3,000+ mile passage (Galapagos Islands to the Marquesas).  Judy had planned to buy jerry cans and store diesel in the stern lazarette for that trip.  Bill would prefer to have a stainless steel secondary fuel tank installed in the bottom half of that port deck locker.  We will make that decision later.  There are many places where there are no fuel docks and you must pick-up your diesel in jerry cans, so maybe just storing jerry cans is a better idea anyway.  Plus, the boat will sail better if that excess weight is in the rear part of the boat rather than on one side, even down low on that side.

We also found two nice long stainless steel grag rails.  We had planned to buy two of these to mount on the stern of the boat to make climbing aboard from the dinghy a bit easier.  Glad we haven't gotten around to dealing with that yet.  This find just saved us at least another $200.

Wish we could figure out the local mini-bus routes.  We only know how to get to the main city of St. George’s and back.  We would like to figure out how to get to the lagoon and to Grand Anse but can find no information on this, and do not want to take an over-priced taxi just to shop and look around.  It is much too far for us to walk, especially with these mountains.  Thinking about taking a tour of the chocolate factory and the nutmeg plant, but still haven’t decided if it is worth the money for those tours and the taxis as those places are way at the other end of the island. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Chance encounter meeting stranger friends

June 20, 2006   Tuesday

Raining again, another tropical wave passing through.  Supposed to rain all day, but at least there is very little wind this time (so far).  So Bill is doing a number of his interior projects.  Bill has a long list of projects that he wants to do on the boat; nothing that is urgently needed, but many little things that we would just like to have done or installed.

He installed a high-decibel water alarm in the forward dry bilge.  So if something strange happens and we somehow get water intrusion from the bow thruster, we will know it immediately.  He is now installing a volt/amp/cycle meter on our 220V shore power.   He wants to be able to monitor the shore power.  We need to always confirm whether we are getting 220-240/50 or 220-240/60.  All our convenience items like the microwave, dishwasher and clothes washer can only be operated on 220-240/50.  And we certainly cannot trust the marinas to tell us for certain whether it is 50 or 60.  Bill loves dealing with electricity (or so it seems to me because he has rewired hundreds if not thousands of things during our 36-year marriage).  He has a whole cabinet locker full of various gadgets, alarms and monitors that we purchased over the past year.  Enough little projects to keep him busy for awhile.

We had planned to take the mini-bus into town for grocery shopping yesterday, but never got around to it.  Instead, Bill gave me another dinghy driving lesson.  I can drive the dinghy just fine as I understand the right/left deal, I just don’t like doing it.  It is not physically comfortable handling the outboard.  The ergonomics are simply not right for me.   Either it makes my bad shoulder hurt, or my back  or my legs.  Have not yet found a comfortable way to sit and drive that thing more than a few minutes.  We have decided that the only way I will ever accept doing it is to do just that – do it.  Like Nike said:  Just Do It! 

Sometimes it is a small world.  Two things happened in the past few days that brought that message home to us again.

On Sunday, I posted something on the SSCA discussion board.  That is the Seven Seas Cruising Association, of which we are members.  Someone responded to my query and also asked if we were currently in Grenada because he had heard the name of our boat on the VHF recently.  We messaged back and forth a few times.  Then Bill and I walked up to the clubhouse to get a drink.  There is DSL connection in the clubhouse for those who want to bring in their laptops.  One man was using his laptop while we were enjoying our drinks.  Turns out that this guy arrived in Clarkes Court Bay Marina on Saturday; he is the one currently re-designing the SSCA discussion board website; he is the person who had messaged with me earlier in the day; and he is docked directly in front of us.  What a coincidence to be chatting online with someone you have never met about a sailing website in Melbourne, FL, and then 5 minutes later you walk into that person less than 50-ft from your own computer.  What are the chances of that happening!

Then yesterday afternoon a couple came into the marina in their dinghy.  They are not staying at this marina; they are anchored out behind Hog Island where a lot of cruisers stay.  It is just around the bend from our marina.  Anyway, these people waved and said hello, so Bill and I stopped and talked with them.  Turns out that they are Aubrey and Judy Millard.  They own S/V Veleda IV, an Ontario 32, which is a well-designed boat.  I have read their cruising logs online for at least 4 years.  I had quit following their travels because they were doing the canals in Europe, and that is something we would never do so it wasn’t of interest to me.  They took down their mast and put it into a cradle on deck, and then they traveled all over Europe on the canal systems.  That is fine for a 32-ft boat with a very short mast; not at all feasible for a 53-ft boat with a 60-ft mast.  Not only that, but we would feel trapped traveling up and down canals, sort of like doing the ICW in the US.  Some people love it; not for Bill and me.

We invited Aubrey and Judy aboard and visited with them for an hour or two.  They were doing what so many cruisers seem to do.  They are anchored nearby but they want to use the marina facilities as if they were paying customers of this marina.  They had come here to fill their water bags and to use the DSL connection in the clubhouse.  They said they have previously done this at this marina.  Many cruisers do this, but Bill and I would feel like free-loaders if we used the facilities of a marina or resort without paying .  If we wanted to fill containers with fresh water and to use the internet in a marina clubhouse, we would at least go to the marina office and offer to pay for these services.

S/V Veleda IV has been cruising for 7 years, with no plans to stop.  They love the cruising life and plan to continue until they physically cannot do it any more.  Like every other cruiser we have met so far on this trip, they sold everything they owned when they moved aboard their boat.  Seems that extremely few cruisers keep a land-based home, usually because it becomes more of a burden than a “security” once they are out on their boat.

We are going to have to find something to do this afternoon.  We will go stir crazy if we have to stay locked up inside this boat all day.  Looks like the rain is abating; maybe it is time to make a break for it and get out of here.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Alone in Grenada

June 16, 2006    Friday
Clarkes Court Bay, Grenada

Spent the afternoon looking at charts and reading books and guides to see what our plans might be for the fall.  Gosh, it is hard to think that far out.

And, yet again, it seems as if the insurance companies screw you.  Weather wise, the time to make the passage to the San Blas Islands (Panama) is November/December—the earlier the better.  To get there, you first go to Tortuga, Los Roques, Aves (all part of Venezuela), and the ABCs (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao).  Of course, all those islands are north of 10 degrees 50 minutes.  And the insurance company insists that we cannot go above 10.50 until after November 30.

The passage from Aruba to San Blas Islands is approximately 630 nautical miles.  If we wait until after November 30 to start working our way over to the ABCs, that will add a couple hundred miles to the trip.  Then we would start the long passage, where we will likely be caught in the Christmas Winds which normally start mid to late December.

Not sure what we are going to do.  Still plenty of time to plan a route.

Bill’s nephew, Duane, sent me an email today asking what we do about money.  That was a strange coincidence because I had just posted earlier this morning on the Yahoo! World Cruising forum about that very subject.  So I will attempt to explain what we do.

We do keep some US cash aboard in a built-in safe, not a large amount.  When we leave the boat, we each carry keys for both the boat and the safe.  We don’t really use that cash.  When we arrive in a new country, first thing we do is hit an ATM at a local bank.  This gives us a supply of the local currency.   We do not use any ATM machines except those located at real banks.  (Which, BTW, are a little different down here.  They always have a locked door to gain access to the ATM.  You must first swipe your debit card to gain access to the enclosed locked-up ATM machine.  I assume this is to provide some level of security from being robbed while accessing cash.  You also must push a button to get out of there.  You are locked inside with the ATM machine while doing your transaction.)  Our bank refunds to our account for any local bank ATM fees, so we never pay a fee to access any ATM.

We also have a Visa card which is tied to the same checking account as our debit card.  The Visa card is paid automatically.  What surprised us is the time delay from when we make a charge and when that bill actually gets paid from our checking account.  The Visa billing cycle closes on the first day of each month, but they do not deduct the money from our checking account until the last day of each month.  So, for example, if we charged something on June 3, then that would be on our bill on July 1, and would not be deducted from our checking account until July 31.  In the meantime, our account earns 4.5% interest.  That surprised us.  We figured they would deduct the payment as soon as the billing cycle closed; July 1 in my example above.  Anyway, the way they do this makes me happy.

We also have a personal banker assigned to us.  We can contact her via email or phone if we need anything special done.  Almost like the old days of having a personal relationship with your bank.

We also have other credit cards with us, should the system not be working correctly and we need to charge something right away.  But to pay the other credit cards, I must get online and manually initiate the payment.  We had one AT&T Universal card that we recently closed because they wanted to charge an additional 3% for any foreign transactions.  Get real.  We told them that policy was ridiculous and to cancel the card.  After all, they are still making the merchant fee on the charge, regardless of where that transaction takes place.  And you know they also make money on the exchange rate that they apply to the transaction.  It is always the lowest exchange rate.  Do they think we are idiots!

So far, this has worked quite well for us.  Far more seamless than I thought it would be.

We also keep about $50USD in local currency on the boat  in a visible place.  This is our “sacrificial token cash” in case of boarding or robbery.  These people are so poor that they probably would be happy with that amount and think it was a lot of money.

Bill comes home tomorrow night.  Hooray!  I finished reading “Lorna Doone” by R.D. Blackmore while Bill was gone.  Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but I actually enjoyed it. 


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ladies Day Out

June 14, 2006  Wednesday (I think)

It has rained for the past 3 days; yesterday the rain was quite hard with winds of 30 kts as a tropical wave moved through the area.  Today was back to beautiful skys.  Strangely enough, it is actually cooler here than it is back in Houston, even though we are much, much closer to the equator.   High temp here in Grenada was 87F and it was 97F in Houston, with the same 90% humidity in each location.  And we have a nice breeze almost all the time down here in the islands.

Today was the Ladies Day Outing that had been organized by Roberta on S/V Alleileujah.  She was an event planner back in the real world before she took early retirement and began cruising 4 years ago.  She thrives on organizing little outings everywhere they go.  They have spent the past 4 years just going back and forth between Trinidad and St. Martin, and they have no plans in going any farther.  The Windward Islands provide them with all they desire.

There were total of 9 of us in the group today.  I was pleasantly surprised that I actually enjoyed it.  Wouldn’t call it a fun day, but it was nice to visit with these ladies.   Some of them have been cruising for 15 years.  Boats ranged from a Hunter (which was much talked about behind the owner’s back because it is normally considered an unsafe boat for cruising outside sight of land) to a 65-foot custom built steel ketch from South Africa.  The women came from Chile, New Zealand, England, and several US states.  Quite a diverse group.  A couple of them have sailed all over the world.  And a couple of them are also thinking of doing the South Pacific within the next couple of years, as are Bill and I.  Audrey from S/V Seafari had be laughing all afternoon at the restaurant and bar.  She has a great sense of humor.

The group consisted of:
Roberta, S/V Alleileujah, from Miami, Florida
Audrey, S/V Seafari, from San Diego, CA
Nell, S/V Storm Along, from Chile (sailing with her boyfriend for the past 8 years)
Marilyn, S/V Zippity Do, from Sacremento/San Francisco area
Sandy, S/V Caliente, from Florida
Judy, S/V Ciboney, from US somewhere
Fay, S/V Tremontana, from New Zealand
Lorraine, S/V Lorrigray, from England (although lived in South Africa for 27 years)
and me

Found out from one of them that the 73-ft ketch from Cowes, England, that we had met in Mayreau and visited aboard is named S/V Icka.  This is the boat owned by a man named Hamish.  That boat is somewhere here in Grenada now but I have not seen her yet.

Our day started with the tour driver picking me up first at 8:15 because I was located so far from everyone else.   By 8:45 we were all loaded into the tour van on our way to the tee-shirt/dress shop.  These women like to shop.  Not something that I really enjoy anymore.  They spent more than an hour buying tee-shirts and dresses.  I managed to find a dress and a shirt for our 4-yr-old granddaughter, Elizabeth, and a tee-shirt for our 5-yr-old grandson, Zachary.  Tried to find a tee-shirt for 15-yr-old Sebastian, but the only island design that I thought he might wear was a bright orange, which is a color that I did not think he would wear; so didn’t buy one for him.  At the last minute before we left the shop, I decided to buy myself 2 tee-shirts just because they were cheap.  Total spent for these 5 items = $77EC or $28.52US

We had a gorgeous, scenic drive over the mountains to the next stop.  Breathtaking views of the harbors.  Learned the difference between an island sheep and a goat.  They look the same to me, but there is a difference.  Their sheep look absolutely nothing like any sheep I have ever seen.  Looks just like a goat to me.  Difference is that a sheep’s tail hangs down and a goat’s tail goes up.  Other than that, they look identical.  I have no clue as to how this distinction came about.

Our next stop was the Art Fabrik workshop.  The owner, Lilo, gave us a tour and explained the process of making batik clothing.  When you see the steps involved, then you begin to understand why real batik is so expensive compared to simply printed fabric.  Lilo is a single Swedish woman who has lived in Grenada for many years.  She lives alone on her boat, which was severely damaged in Hurricane Ivan.  She put the boat up into the mangroves, which is what you are supposed to do.  But then other people anchored in front of the mangroves (WHICH YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO DURING A STORM).  The anchored boats broke loose during the hurricane and banged into the mangroves and did a great deal of damage to the boats there.  Lilo says if there is another hurricane, she is staying on her boat with 4 anchors put out and take her chances.  Let’s hope that there is not another hurricane, if only for her sake.

The 4 women who do the wax painting and stenciling at the batik shop are all deaf.  Lilo said that they get absolutely no work done on Monday mornings because each person has to talk about what they did over the weekend.  Since they talk by signing, neither the person “talking” nor the person “listening” can do any work.  The speaker needs their hands to talk, so they can’t work at the same time.  And the listener needs to watch the other person’s hands, so that can’t work either.  So Lilo just has come to terms with the fact that no work will be accomplished on Monday mornings.

After the batik lesson we all went down the street to Lilo’s retail store, where everyone bought something.  I bought a purple wrap skirt with a few large light blue and lavender and white flowers on it; could be worn with a white tank top or shirt or over a bathing suit like a pareo.  The deal with batik is that the more colors in the print, the more labor involved; therefore, the more expensive.  My skirt has 4 colors in it; it cost $213.50EC or $80US.  Shhhh; don’t tell Bill.

Then we had another scenic drive, through the airport, out to the Aquarium restaurant.  It is situated on the farthest SW point of Grenada.  It is beautiful; built right into the rocks of the hill and opening onto a fantastic beach..  Lunch was fun, with rum punches, wines, margaritas, and sea breezes by everyone else.  Being the teetotaler, I had a lime squash (limeade to us Texans).  And a Greek salad that should have Greeks spinning in their graves.  Weird, weird plate of food to be called a Greek salad; but, hey, it is the islands after all.  I won’t even try to explain the island version of a Greek salad, but let’s just say that there was no lettuce, no Greek olives, no Greek dressing, and it had large slices of raw onion covered in red spicy seafood seasoning all over the top of it.

Then we all sat out at the beach bar and watched a few of them swim while the others continued to drink.  These cruiser wives do seem to like their alcohol.  By this point I was ready to head back home to the boat, so it was a relief when Roberta finally said it was time to go.

Got back to the marina and found a new boat has arrived on our dock.  Occupied by 2 men.  Haven’t talked to them yet so don’t know how long they plan to be here.

Oh, the cashews.  I have uploaded 3 photos of a fresh cashew.  The trees grow wild here.   For those of you who don’t know, there is a reason that you have never seen cashews in the shell in a store. Think about it; you have seen walnuts in shells, pecans, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts or filberts, Brazil nuts—all in shells, but I know that you have never seen a cashew in a shell in a store.  How do I know this?  Because the shells are poisonous.  So are the leaves of the tree.   Both the shells and tree leaves contain an oil that is poisonous.  Even standing beneath a cashew tree in the rain will leave your skin blistered.  The people who pick cashews normally wear gloves to protect their hands.

As you can see from the photos, the cashew is strange.  The red/yellow large part is actually a fruit.  It is edible.  It is usually sweet but can also be somewhat bitter.  The dark brown smaller part contains the actual cashew nut.  They start out both being green.  As it ripens, the fruit turns red or red/yellow, and the nut part turns brown.  Once the brown part gets totally dried out (or is broken off and roasted), then you can eat the cashew nut inside.  If you have not roasted the cashew nut itself, then you must be very careful not to let your fingers touch your lips or you will get blisters all around your mouth.

Does that give you an idea of why cashews are so much more expensive than almost all other nuts?

And that ends our botanical lesson for tonight.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Still sitting

June 10, 2006   Saturday
Still sitting in Clarkes Court Bay Marina, Grenada

Bill left early this morning for his business trip to Houston.   It is not yet 9:00a.m. and I am already bored being alone here on the boat.  This is going to be one long week.  I do not like driving the dinghy and there is really nothing within walking distance, so I am basically stuck on the boat unless I take a taxi or break down and actually drive that dinghy. 

The last time we called for a taxi it cost us $70EC to go to the nearest shopping area.  The taxi driver did not have any change and all we had was a $100EC bill, so it actually cost us $100EC.  Later, we found out that we could take the dinghy across the bay and catch a local "bus" all the way to downtown St. Georges (the main city) for only $2EC each way per person.  So, $8EC round trip for a distance twice as far as we had paid $100EC for that taxi. 

The "bus" is a real experience.  We were the only white people on it, and some of the locals were looking at us sort of strange.  Like, what are you doing in here with us.  No one ever said one word to one another in the buses.  A bus is really a small van with sliding side door entry, equipped with 4 bench seats and a few fold-up seats along the side, inaddition to the driver`s and front passenger`s seats.  There is a "controller" who handles the sliding door and collects the money.  He/she tells everyone where to sit.  Man, do they pack people into those things.  And they drive really fast and scary.  I felt uncomfortable sitting in the third row when they stopped and someone filled up a plastic gallon water jug with what appeared to be gasoline.  All I could think about was that we might crash into oncoming traffic the next time we rounded a mountain curve at breakneck speed on those narrow roads, and that the resulting fire from the gasoline was going to burn us all up before we could possibly get out of that van.  Bill later said that he didn`t think it was really gasoline, maybe kerosene.  All I know is that it was filled from a pump at a regular automobile gas station, so I assumed it was gasoline.  Anyway, it was an unomfortable drive.

We walked around St. Georges; shopped at many of the local shops.  Their version of the 99-Cent store or the Dollar Store is called the $10.00 store.  They have about 4 of these stores in every block of downtown St. Georges.  They also had numerous cars selling clothing from their trunks on the side of the street.  And copied movie DVDs all over the sidewalks.  Didn`t see any movies that we were interested in acquiring; plus, we have heard that you can buy just-released movie DVDs in Trinidad for $1.60US, so maybe we will buy some down there.

Another thing that struck us a a little strange is that there were big umbrellas set up on the sidewalks, filled with bras hanging down and a woman sitting beneath.  Apparently, that is where one shops for a bra.  I could use a few new ones, but just couldn`t bring myself to bra shop on the sidewalk.  They appeared to be in no order whatsoever, so you would have to stand there and find the size on each one before haggling for a price.  For one who is accumstomed to Victoria`s Secret catalog shopping, no thanks.

We found the new produce market downtown.  It encompasses about one city block, with vendors everywhere.  Just spices and locally grown produce are sold there.  The vendors were not nearly so agressive as the ones in Bequia.  You did not feel like you were being attacked by them.  Should have bought more but didn`t want to carry it around half the day.

We were looking for a very small or hand-held 220V vacuum cleaner.  Did not find one small enough for the boat.

Bill got a haircut.  We had bought hair clippers for the boat, with plans for Judy to cut his hair.  But I did not want to cut his hair for the first time right before he left for a trip home.  I might as well have tried my hand at it.  The barber just basically shaved Bill`s head.  I could have done that.  But what the heck, it only cost equivalent of $7.40US; and it was an interesting experience.  We saw a barber shop sign on the second story above a busy sidewalk.  Then we had to figure out how in the world you gained access.  After several attempts through various passageways, we found an interior courtyard behind the stores that faced the sidewalks.  There were several stairways leading up to businesses above.  On the second stairway attempt, we finally found the entrance to the barber shop.  It was just an interesting experience.

The barber shop had these rules posted on their entry door:
1.  Do not drag your feet while walking in the barber shop.
2.  Do not stomp your feet while inside the barber shop.
3.  Do not come and go from the barber shop unless you have business in the barber shop.
4.  No dancing in the barber shop.
5.  No singing in the barber shop.
Here is a business.

Guess they have had a problem with singing, dancing, stomping, foot-dragging patrons.

We had lunch at a nice little restaurant just across from the main bus terminal.  We chose that particular restaurant for the most important reason -- it was air conditioned.  Served us a larger meal than we expected, so that was our big meal of the day and we had popcorn and a DVD for dinner on the boat.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Clarkes Court Bay Marina

June 4, 2006   Sunday       Clarkes Court Bay Marina, Grenada

Wind blowing 15-20 kts today here at the marina.  That surprises us because this marina is at the very end of a long fjord-like bay, a good distance from the sea.   Our boat is moving about so much in the slip when the wind blows that Bill is concerned that our shade awnings are acting like sails.  Judy does not want to take them down until forced to do so.

Everything is closed on Sunday, and tomorrow is a holiday.  So we are pretty much stuck here at the marina until Tuesday.  Yesterday evening we took the dinghy and explored behind Hog Island.  There is a lagoon back there where a lot of cruisers like to anchor.  We didn’t see anyone that we had previously met, so we didn’t hang around long.

Bill has spent the day doing exterior boat chores – cleaning out the bilge and washing the deck and doing routine rust stain removal.  Judy defrosted refrigerator and freezer.  It sure helps that we have 3 units.  That way, we can take everything out of the one being defrosted and still keep the food cold or frozen.  Unfortunately, this is a chore that must be done every 3 weeks or so.  Oh, the fun of living on a boat.  Judy has not defrosted a fridge or freezer in our land-home in more than 30 years.  But they don’t have frost-free refrigerators on boats, so add this to our regular boat chores.

The people in the slip next to us are on a 1982 Amel 46-ft. Maramu, one of the precursors to our model boat.  Ours is 53-ft.  Their boat is pre-electric everything, so all their sails are manual.  But they have done an impressive job re-doing their boat.  It is extremely nice and looks brand new.  They have changed the hull color from creamy white to a pure white with blue trim.  They have also filled in the strips on the deck that originally (like ours) made the brown grained fiberglass appear like a regular teak deck.  They then applied four coats of epoxy and 2 layers of fiberglass and topped it all with white awl grip.  So they no longer have the Amel signature decks.  Their deck looks great and really changed the appearance of the boat.  They are supposed to leave tomorrow.

These people told us today that there is a group of boats from Texas (several from Kemah) anchored in the lagoon nearby.  All the Texans apparently like to get together.  Anyway, one of the Texas boats was boarded a couple of weeks ago in St. Vincent by two guys armed with machetes.  The boat owner confronted the robbers with a flare pistol, then locked himself and his wife below decks to allow the robbers time to leave, which they did.  No harm was done; all they stole was a big spotlight which had been left on deck; but the wife was so shaken that they chartered a private plane to take her and their 2 dogs back to the states.  They have decided to end their cruising now.  A friend is flying down here to help the husband take the boat up to the Chesapeake, and they plan to do just short-cruises around there.   In our opinions, there is a lot more crime back home than there is around here.  It certainly is not a bit safer back in the good old USA than it is in these islands; the crime rate is much higher back at home.

June 6, 2006     Tuesday        Grenada

We called for a taxi and went to the Spice Island Mall this morning.  Found the IGA Supermarket.  Nice to see a real store again.  Still surprising to see the prices on everything.  They use the standard dollar sign, just like USA, except everything is priced in EC currency, which is 2.7 exchange rate to US dollar.  So it is a little disconcerting to pay $16.89 for a 16-ounce jar of Old El Paso Picante Sauce.  But that is really only $6.27.  Get that, ONLY $6.27.  Of course, we would never pay that much at home; but shipping way down here does cost a lot.

We found everything on our shopping list except tomatoes.  We tried 2 stores, and tomatoes just weren’t available today.  So we can do without that.

Today was Bill’s birthday.  Judy made a Betty Crocker Warm Delight Fudge cake for him.  A mix that cooks in the microwave in 1 minute 15 seconds.  Serves two and actually tastes pretty good when you haven’t had any junk food in 5-6 weeks.  Bought two of these little mixes back in St. Thomas and have been saving them until we felt that we just had to have some kind of chocolate something.  

We are somewhat surprised that we haven’t been craving more sweets, but we really don’t seem to miss the junk food.  Bill did eat a whole large bag of M&Ms during the first 2 weeks (didn’t offer Judy any, but still swears he wasn’t sneaking them behind her back).

BTW, our little break maker is marvelous.  It makes a large loaf of very good bread in 1 hour 55 minutes.  Judy made a loaf and brought it as a hostess gift when we were invited for drinks at another boat.  Wrapped it in a dish towel from the 99 Cent store back at home.  The hostess was delighted with both the bread and receiving a kitchen towel.  Hoping that Bill will have time next week to stop by that store and buy a few dozen more of those little towels.  That is an easy “welcome” gift and it looks like we will be needing lots of those.

All the cruisers hand out boat cards when they meet.  These are usually very nice business cards printed with all the boat and boat owner information, plus a nice graphic.  We haven’t had any boat cards printed yet; that is another thing that we hope Bill will get done while he is in Houston next week.   Bill is going to be very busy guy on this trip.

Winds here have been consistent 20 knots since Sunday morning, gusting to 30 knots.  We had to take down the front two of our shade awnings because they were beginning to act like sails in this high wind.   If we were on an anchor, then the boat would swing and stay pointed into the wind.  In that case, these particular awnings can remain up with no problems up to about 45 knots of wind.  But at the dock, we are tied so that the wind is hitting our port forward quarter.  So the front two sections of awning were acting like sails in the high winds.  We removed them, but this boat is still dancing all over the slip.  The people next to us are leaving tomorrow to go around to St. Georges’ Harbor, hoping that there will be less wind on the other side of this mountainous island.  That will leave just us occupying a boat on this dock.  There are two unoccupied boats, and us.  On the next dock there are 3 occupied boats and 5 unoccupied boats.  This is definitely the slow season down here.

The people we met in Carriacou on S/V SeaLoon arrived here two days ago.  They dropped by yesterday for a glass of wine and to visit awhile.  They are anchored behind Hog Island with the rest of the cruisers, which is just around the bend from this marina.  That is where we would also be anchored if Bill wasn’t making the business trip home next week.  Neither of us felt comfortable about leaving the boat on an anchor with just Judy aboard, especially with tropical depressions moving through every other day already.  That is why we are staying at the marina instead.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Grenada--our new home for a month

3rd Jun 2006
Arrived in Grenada; our new home for a month

June 3, 2006 Saturday Clarkes Court Bay Marina, Grenada Traveled 41NM


It rained several hours yesterday and then cleared to a sunny late afternoon. We probably could have made it to Grenada just fine, based on the weather we saw in our anchorage. But, then again, who knows. It could have been entirely different 40 miles away. At any rate, that front has now passed westward of Grenada.

Last night we went into a beach bar/restaraunt with the Looneys from S/V SeaLoon. We met with about a dozen other cruisers. Entertainment was pretty good; just a bunch of island guys on hand drums, not the typical pan steel drum type. Bill thought it sounded like African music. Our group ordered food; but after waiting for 2 hours (while consuming Carib beers and rum punch) and still no food was served, we all canceled our food orders. But we did enjoy the drum music and the conversation.

We left Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, at 7:00 this morning and arrived in Grenada marina about 12:30. Winds of 15-18 kts; seas 6-10 ft. Had a great beam reach sail at 8 kts for four hours. Then the wind totally died. The little needle on our wind indicator was just spinning slow circles; not enough wind to even register on it. So we took in the sails and motored the last hour and a half. Current and waves were tough there at the end before we turned to head into Clarkes Court Bay. And then the wind picked back up as we entered the bay.

Today's trip was the first time ever that Bill actually felt seasick. Judy was dozing in the cockpit when Bill told her that she better take over the helm. He looked white as a sheet. But after drinking some water and sitting in the back area of the cockpit with the wind on his face, he slowly recuperated back to normal. At least he never had to hang his head over the side.

The dock manager switched slips for us as we arrived. We were supposed to be docked on the south side of the pier, but he thought it was much too windy for us to back into that windward slip. So he had us move into a slip on the north side of the pier, facing bow into the wind. This is a very small marina & we think we will be happy here for the next month. Easy bus service into the main city of St. Georges for only $12EC (4.44 USD). And the bus will pick us up right here at the marina office. The owner/manager is extremely nice. This marina had 53 boats during Hurricane Ivan, and only 3 sank. So it is a very secure place, weather-wise. They also now verify that you have insurance coverage on your boat before they let you dock here. Seems the owners of the damaged boats didn't have insurance and the marina was responsible for getting them out of here. They want to make sure that from now on all boats that they allow to stay here have at least some insurance coverage--at least enough to pay salvage in case of total loss.

Our total trip mileage was 576.25NM.

Don't expect many updates during the next month. Might not have much to say as we won't be going anywhere, except to explore Grenada occasionally.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Back where we started this morning

2nd Jun 2006
Back where we started this morning

June 2, 2006 Friday Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou Traveled 4.5 NM

We left about 7:00 this morning for the final passage to Grenada. Shortly after we passed our second waypoint, we received a VHF hail from the two boats that we had met earlier. They both had been listening to the SSB morning cruiser net weather info and wanted to warn us that the weather prediction had changed. The tropical front that was expected next Tuesday had formed up more solid during the night and was moving much faster than had been anticipated. Weather was supposed to change about noon local time today; now expected to be small gales all afternoon with winds of 40-50 kts. NOT ideal weather to be in when sailing down the windward side of Grenada. So we abandoned our plans for the trip today and returned to this anchorage that we like so much. It is now almost noon and the rains are just starting, right on time as predicted earlier this morning.

Our first entertainment of guests last night went well. We again had a very enjoyable evening visiting with these folks. Bill made numerous trips to at least 8 little stores yesterday in attempts to find groceries; he even took the little bus over to the main town of Hillsborough and tried shopping there. (Judy was allowed to miss this adventure because she was busy sitting inside an air-conditioned boat doing laundry and playing on the computer.) Even after all that shopping, Bill still could not find all the ingredients for any one of the six dishes that Judy would have been happy to cook. So we had a hodge-podge meal. To give you an idea of what it is like down here, you find the best selection of produce in the auto parts store. In Grenada, if you need a battery for a watch, then you go to the funeral parlor. A "supermarket" sells no produce whatsoever. Things are found for sale at some really strange places. The locals can tell you where to look for things, but many of the food items are totally unfamiliar to them.

You cannot buy picante sauce or salsa here; you cannot buy tortillas or Doritos or Tostitos or anything remotely like that. Cannot buy horseradish, jalapenos, avocados, sour cream, or a whole lot of other things that we take for granted back home. But Bill did find a few fresh tomatoes, limes, onions, green onions, tiny red bell peppers and some of those really hot West Indian peppers that we think are a version of habenero. We had some fajita seasoning and dried cilantro in our few spices that we brought from home, so Judy cooked some picante sauce. Turned out pretty good but would have been better if we had some comino to add. That spice will now be added to our on-going shopping list. Maybe it will be available in Trinidad in July.

We also had frozen one of those Hormel vacuum packed "tenderloins" (really beef shoulder) that was marinated in tequila lime sauce. We had bought that back in St. Thomas. We grilled it and used the 2 packages of frozen flour tortillas to make beef, cheese and red bell pepper quesadillas. That with the picante sauce was a big hit with our guests, even without any guacamole or sour cream or garnishments. Judy also made a smoked salmon log with crackers in case any of them didn't eat beef. That was also a huge hit and the recipes had to be shared. It was a fun evening.

The Looneys on S/V SeaLoon (the boat with the 13-year-old girl) are also going to Grenada. They had also planned to leave today but changed their minds because of this weather. Maybe we will both leave tomorrow if this front passes by then. We are sure that we will see them again in other harbors. The couple on S/V Panacea live on their boat permanently moored here in Tyrrel Bay; not likely that we will see them again unless we come back to this harbor.

We were pleasantly surprised when we returned to the anchorage and turned on the computer. Sailmail already approved our application for service and had emailed us what we need to set-up that account. Everyone had told us that it would take about a week for that application to be processed, so we were surprised that it only took 24 hours. So Bill will work on that today. When we have that account up and running smoothly, then we probably will post that email address in this blog. But it is for text only emails, no HTML formatted messages will work. HF radio email is extremely slow, way slower than the slowest first modems; it cannot handle HTML at all and no attachments. But text only works great.

Now a rainy day in paradise. Think I will read another book.


Thursday, June 1, 2006

Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou

31st May 2006 - 1st Jun 2006

June 1, 2006 Thursday Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou traveled 3.8 NM

12.27.405N, 61.29.237W

We motored over to Tyrrel Bay early yesterday morning. A large freighter arrived for the Hillsborough dock and we were anchored sort of in his way, so we pulled anchor and motored over to the next bay. We love it here.

Some of our readers have questioned where in the world Carriacou is located. Carriacou is a fairly small island just northeast of Grenada. It is part of the country of Grenada. It will be about a 45-50 mile sail from here to the marina we have reserved on the southeastern side of Grenada.

Last night we visited S/V SeaLoon, owned by James Looney and wife Noeleen. They have been cruising for about 10 years with their now-thirteen-year-old daughter, Nicola. SeaLoon flys a Texas flag and they dropped by our boat yesterday afternoon because we also fly a Texas flag, and invited us over for cocktails and snacks. Another couple, Rick and Sue Johnston, from S/V Panacea also joined us. It was a truly delightful evening, with great food, drinks and conversation. Swapped lots of "what we have done stupid on our boats" type stories.

Rick and Sue operate the WiFi service here in Tyrrel Bay. They have been here for about a year. They consider Carriacou "the land that time forgot." It is so peaceful here and the people are the friendliest of any island we have visited so far. Rick came over to our boat very early this morning and helped Bill with the SSB. We have not been able to get clear reception on the SSB. In exchance for Rick's assistance, Bill gave Rick a pair of hand-held VHF radios. We had two sets of hand-held radios and Rick didn't have any. So it was a good trade for both of us.

Rick also confirmed that our Pactor modem will talk to the SSB. He gave us a copy of Airmail, a program that we will need. As soon as our SailMail account is set-up, then we should be all set to send and receive text-only email via HF radio. Bill has applied for the SailMail account, but it takes minimum of a week for them to process the application. We will be gone from here by then, but hopefully Rick has shown Bill enough about this radio set-up that Bill will be able to operate it. If not, then we will try to find someone else in Grenada to get us novices operational.

Today is Thursday, so it is another laundry day. We are making water while running the clothes washer. But the desalinator makes water faster than the clothes washer uses it, so it works fine to perform the two processes simultaneously.

We have invited James, Noeleen, Nicola, Rick and Sue over to our boat tonight. Have no idea what we are going to feed them. There are no snack-type foods on this boat whatsoever, and no ingredients to prepare any type appetizer. We do have 3 bottles of wine, but no liquor or beer. Judy made a long shopping list for groceries and fresh produce (the only fresh produce onboard consists of 1/4 of one onion and 3 tangerines). Bill has gone into the little town to purchase a couple cases of beer---Kronenburg 1664 is really cheap here. Whatever food items he finds in the local village will determine our menu for tonight.

BTW, Judy discovered the perfect way to make tuna salad. We now buy tuna only in the foil packs. Just zip open a foil packet of tuna, add mayo and Heinz hot dog relish and chopped boiled egg. That is all you need. No more chopping celery, pickles, onion, etc., and adding mayo and mustard. Just a few spoonfuls from 2 jars, a pack of tuna, and use the egg slicer to "chop" the eggs. Done in about 30 seconds, and it tastes GOOD! Cannot believe it took so many years to figure that out.

We will probably re-name the boat next year when it is time to renew the documentation. Neither of us really likes the name "Security" but have not been able to agree on another name yet. Judy really likes the name "Red Sky" -- based on the old saying: Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky predicts good weather for the following day. Associated with this posting are a few photos of the red sky we saw here last night that I have not yet uploaded.