Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Whit Monday

May 28, 2007  Monday

Memorial Day in the USA today.  Whit Monday here in Carriacou.  I had to look up what Whit Monday means.  It is a religious holiday, 50 days from Easter; so the date changes each year.  It is a rainy day here.  Little squalls blowing through off and on all day.  A good day to read books or watch DVDs.  Maybe route out a few of our future passages on Maxsea.  Bill discovered this morning that Kick ‘em Jenny is not shown on any of our charts.  So he placed a marker for the volcano on both of our electronic charts and added the exclusions zones, making sure to route us west of Kick ‘em Jenny.  Wish our bimini was finished because we both are ready to move on.  And weather forecasts indicate higher winds for Friday and Saturday.  Oh, well.  As the delivery captain from South Africa said last year about the weather:  it is what it is.

This afternoon between squalls we were sitting in the cockpit cooling off.  I looked up and saw a boat named WATERMARK entering the bay and anchoring near us.  I mentioned it to Bill and he immediately started waving and calling to Cliff, who was on the bow setting the anchor.  Of course, now I remember.  It is Cliff and Deb, a Canadian couple who were at Coral Cove Marina in Trinidad last summer at the same time we were there.  We invited them over for sundowners and had a rather late evening catching up on what each of us has been doing since last September.  It was great running into them again.  We very much enjoy their company and their senses of humor.

This afternoon Sanford and Son came to our neighborhood.  This trawler type boat arrived and anchored right next to us.  There is so much junk piled all over that boat that Bill immediately thought of that old TV sitcom called Sanford and Son (at least we think that was the name of it).  Bill wanted to pull anchor and move away from this thing because their engine or generator was really loud and they ran it for hours.  But we preserved and remained in place. 

May 29, 2007  Tuesday

Turned out to be good that we didn't bother to move.  This afternoon that junky boat started dragging their anchor.  No one was aboard.  Everyone had gone ashore for a wedding.  But someone finally noticed that the boat was headed out to sea unattended, and they came zooming back to catch it.  They then pulled their anchor and moved to another location in the bay.  Goodbye and good riddance!  We did not like having that noisy, stinking, ugly boat next to us.

Today we went ashore to Scraper’s for a hamburger lunch, and ran into Cliff and Deb.  They had walked about looking for fresh vegetables and were then recuperating from their exertions with a cold libation.  Could have saved them the effort of the walk if we had known they were in search of fresh vegetables – there aren’t any on this island.  And there are very few canned vegetables either.  Don’t know what the locals do for vegetables because we haven’t seen any.  We know that if there are any fresh vegetables to be had that you go to the hardware store in Hillsborough.  Strange, but true.  The hardware store sells most of the fresh vegetables on this island, when any are available at all. 

Our hamburger lunch was okay.  We had lowered our expectations because we know how limited everything is here.  So our expectations were met perfectly.   It has been such a long time since we have eaten hamburgers that neither of us can even remember where or when that was.  So, even a mediocre burger was welcome.

This afternoon Petra and Andy from In Stitches delivered the first 2 side screen shade panels for our bimini.  Petra did a good job making these.  She and Andy measured and installed the grommets to fit the latches already on the boat that secure our solid clear foul-weather panels.   So now we have either solid clear panels for sailing in bad weather or if we ever are in cold weather, and we have the screen-type panels for shade and keeping out flies and mosquitos for use in hot weather.  I think we are really going to like having the entire cockpit “screened in.”  And I know we will like having the side and rear shade.

BTW, we also have a solid clear enclosure that zips onto our bimini for use in cold weather.  Supposedly keeps the cockpit nice and snug.  We plan to avoid cold weather as much as possible, but that will really nice to have when and if we finally make it to New Zealand or the Red Sea or the Med.  Assuming that our bimini remains in good shape that long!  Who knows how long it will take us to make it that far.  If we keep up with replacing UV damaged stitching, then the bimini hopefully will last several more years.  It is four years old now but it is still in very good condition.  Our bimini is made from a vinyl rather than from Sunbrella fabric.  It is holding up very well.
Tonight we had sundowners with Jaime and Dan on S/V NEREIA.  Jaime is a very good cook and he served us dolmades and Texas-style hummus (had black beans, garbanzo beans and jalapenos mashed in with the tahini).  Both were delicious.  Jaime and Dan are from Houston.  Well, actually, Jaime originates from Ecuador; but they lived in Houston before setting out to cruise in their 35-ft Baba.  Their boat is gorgeous!  Has a lot of wood that requires a tremendous amount of work to keep looking so beautiful.  And they do keep it looking beautiful.  We met Jaime and Dan at Coral Cove Marina in Trinidad last summer.  Great seeing them again.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Papa can fix anything

May 27, 2007 Sunday

Gosh, I had a hard time this morning even remembering what day of the week it is!  And I had long since forgotten the date.  Thank you Bill Gates for putting it in the lower right hand corner of this computer screen.  Our days sort of flow from one to another without any distinction for weekends.  Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the USA, and it is Whit Monday here in these formerly British islands.  I have no idea what Whit Monday means, but it is a holiday in Carriacou and Grenada as well as St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  Trinidad and Tobago have another name for it, but they also take the day as a holiday. 

There is a sailing regatta in Petit Martinique this holiday weekend.  The small sail loft here in Tyrrel Bay was busy working on sails for the past 2 weeks in preparation for this annual regatta.  We are thinking of sailing over to PM this morning to check it out.  It is always fun to watch the local islanders sail their handmade boats.  They are all so good at it.  And each island has its own style of local boat.

The boatyard here in Tyrrel Bay is very small.  It only employs 4 regular employees, all local islanders.  One day this past week Bill watched them working on 3 wooden boats in the boatyard.  They are replacing various worn or rotted pieces of these boats, and doing a darn good job of it.  Their work on one boat in particular really impressed Bill.  They had a tree trunk on the ground; looked like white cedar, which is supposed to be the very best wood for boats and is normally only used in the most critical areas because it is expensive and hard to find.  This log appeared to be well dried.  The workers would stand back and look at the stern of that boat to discern what shape piece of wood was needed next in their rebuilding process.  Then they would take a small chain saw and zip, zip, zip---instantly they had the perfect shape needed to fit the space.  These pieces were curved and angled to fit on the sloping stern.  Every piece fit perfectly.  It was a joy to watch them work.  If anyone has a wooden boat needing any type of repair, Carriacou is the place to have this work done right.

Another unusual thing here in Tyrrel Bay is the welding barge.  I had read about this a couple of years ago.  Unfortunately for us, the man who operates this barge, Dominic, left for a 5-week holiday the day before we arrived here.  We had hoped to have him do the small stainless steel job that we needed for the bimini modification.  Dominic no longer brings his barge to your boat at anchor.  Now he has placed tires and fenders along the port side of his barge and you bring your boat to him.  Just moor alongside and he fabricates whatever SS is needed.  The only time he moves his barge is if there is a boat at the boatyard docks that needs his work while it is still in the water.  He will take his barge to the boatyard docks and fabricate that job, then the barge goes back to its permanent mooring out in the bay.  He does good work and at far lower prices than you would find in St. Martin, Bequia or Trinidad.  Not as cheap as in Venezuela, but they use poor quality stainless in VZ (probably only 304) and you wouldn’t want that lower quality on your boat because it will not hold up half as long in the marine environment as the quality 316 or 319 stainless.

We did receive our two 6-foot pieces of 316 SS tubing on the ferry from Grenada on Wednesday.  The boatyard picked it up from the ferry; Bill picked it up from the boatyard and delivered it to the machinist shop up the hill that is owned by 2 German brothers.  They are excellent mechanics for diesel engines and they have a fabrication shop and can make just about anything.  They normally do not do SS work and leave that to Dominic.  But since Dominic is away on holiday, Uwe and Goerk bent the SS tubing as per Bill’s specifications.  Petra at In Stitches should have the bimini extension and side/rear shade panels completed in plenty of time for us to sail down to Grenada next weekend so we can haul-out for our bottom job next Monday.

Papa can fix anything.  That is what Bill always told our grandson, Zachary.  Well, apparently it is still true.  Our microwave oven quit working the other night.  So yesterday Bill managed to tamper with the tamper-proof screws (using a small vise grip) and got the microwave taken apart.  He checked out various components and they all tested good ---- also managed to blow up his voltmeter in the process.  He thought that all the female quick connects seemed loose so he tightened all of them.  And the darn thing started working again.  Thank goodness!  Trying to find a replacement 220v microwave now that we are back in the land of 110v electricity would have been impossible.  Not to mention trying to find a microwave with the exact same dimensions and with the feet in the same spot so that it would fit in the pre-built space above our stove.  The current microwave is locked into place by stainless steel bars.  Would be a hassle to modify everything to fit a different sized microwave, assuming we could ever find a 220v one.  Thanks to Bill, we don’t have to worry with that now.

I also came up with a new recipe this week.   I have named it Desperation Chili.  It sounds awful, but really isn’t bad.  It’s a boat thing.  Things that you would never consider on land where you have large well-stocked supermarkets easily at hand are looked at in a different light when you live on a boat.  All my Texas relatives and friends should stop reading now.  You really don’t want to hear this food idea.

I made chili using canned corned beef.  Now, doesn’t that sound utterly disgusting!  I posted the recipe on the Captains and Admirals group on Yahoo! In the Files/Galley section.  We were glad to find that this works because ground beef is often not available.  This is something that we can cook anywhere because it only requires canned ingredients; only fresh ingredient is onion and that is available anywhere.  To make this even more palatable for Bill, I also made corn muffins and brownies that day.  Maybe today I will bake beer bread to eat with the leftover chili.  I have a great recipe for beer bread.  Since I am hung up on food right now, it must be time for breakfast. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Kick ‘em Jenny

May 23, 2007  Wednesday
Kick ‘em Jenny

Last year we when we sailed from Carriacou to Grenada we went down the windward (eastward) side of Grenada.  It was a rough day and was the first time that Bill ever felt seasick.  So this year when we sail down to Grenada in a week or so we intend to go down the leeward side and see how it is.  The high mountains will probably block the wind and we will wish that we had opted for the windward side again.  Anyway, when we sail down the leeward (westward) side of Grenada we will pass closely by Kick 'em Jenny.

Kick 'em Jenny is an active underwater volcano.  There are two exclusion zone bands around Kick 'em Jenny.  The innermost circle covers directly over the volcano and boats are never supposed to go directly over it.  Boats are supposed to avoid the outer exclusion circle on days that the volcano is showing more activity than usual.  The reason for this exclusion is because of the gases emitted from the volcano.  The air bubbles in the water make boats susceptible to sinking because the aerated water is obviously less bouyant for the boats.

So that got me to thinking.  What percentage of normal seawater must be replaced by air bubbles in order to become dangerous for floating objects such as sailboats?   To further complicate the thinking process, one must remember that a boat also contains air spaces that increase bouyancy, and each model boat is different.  Our boat is 27 gross tons (24 net tons), with a deplacement of only 16 tons when fully loaded.

This sounds like a wonderful problem for our math genius friend, Terry.  So, here is a challenge to Terry:  When you have nothing better to do, please see if you can calculate the air percentage required to make sea water unable to support our boat.  That should be fun for you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tyrrel Bay captivates and boats have a hard time leaving

May 22, 2007 Tuesday
Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou

Gosh, hard to believe we have been here in Tyrrel Bay for 5 days already!  This is one of those places where it is easy to “bury your anchor” as the saying goes – meaning to put down one’s anchor and not move again.  We have been visiting with other cruisers, either on their boats or ours, playing dominoes and eating pizza and thoroughly enjoying this area.

Bill’s sister, Helene, was supposed to fly to Grenada today to visit us for a week or so; but she is starting a new job instead.  So hopefully we will see her another time and place.  As it turns out, it is good that her visit got canceled; because we want to remain here in Carriacou in hopes of getting our bimini changes completed.  Nothing is ever easy.

As I think we mentioned earlier, the guy who does stainless steel work departed for a 5-week holiday the day before we arrived here.   Petra, the worman who does bimini sewing, will not make the bimini changes and shade panels until we have the new stainless steel support bars in place at the rear of the cockpit.  Catch 22.

Well, looks like we might have things worked out.

We talked to Tim, who manages the little boat yard here in Carriacou.  Tim helped us locate two 6-foot pieces of 3/4-inch 316 stainless steel tubing in Grenada and arranged for these to be delivered on the ferry tomorrow.  Tim isn’t sure how we will pay for these.  We might have to find the seller and pay him when we get to Grenada.  Then we talked with Goerk, (pronounced like York) a local machinist, who said he can fabricate these SS tubing pieces into what we need.  It should only take Goerk a few hours to complete this little job.  As soon as the bars are in place then Petra will come back to our boat and obtain exact measurements.  She has all the materials in stock (thank goodness our bimini is white because that is the only color she stocks) and should be able to complete the job next week, giving us time to spare before we must be in Grenada on June 3.  We have a haul-out scheduled at Spice Island Boatyard at 8:00 a.m. on June 4 for our annual bottom job, so we must be in Prickly Bay by afternoon June 3.

This week saw our first physical injury on the boat.  Bill dropped a floor locker lid on his toe.  His toe was at the short end of the lid near the rear edge hinge, so the full weight of the 4-foot long lid fell squarely on top of his big toe.  It looks nasty and he definitely will lose that nail.  He wouldn’t let me get near it.  So much for medical training.  Useless if the patient refuses to let you see the wound.  By the third day it was causing shooting pains so he finally relented and agreed that a needle should be inserted to relieve the pressure.  But he insisted on doing it himself.  Wasn’t going to let me touch that painful toe.  So I burned a needle and had the hydrogen peroxide ready.  He inserted the needle in several places and released a lot of blood and cleaned the injury well.  Then we put on a bandage and wrapped in tape so that the loose nail won’t get knocked off quite yet.  The pain subsided noticeably and he can walk again.  Still looks nasty and will probably take more than a year to grow a new toenail.  Bet he never lets his foot get near a raised floor locker or deck locker again.  Lessons learned by pain are usually learned well.

One day I heard a siren, which is a strange sound on a small Caribbean island.  I told Bill that it sounded like a police siren – but they don’t have police cars on this island.  He suggested that it might be an ambulance – but they don’t have ambulances on this island.  Then he suggested that it might be a fire truck.  Well, never saw a fire truck; but it was a fire siren.  It has been so dry on a lot of the Caribbean islands this year that they are having problems with brush fires.  Carriacou had a brush fire.  It was soon brought under control.  Our boat is covered in brown dust.  And the islands need the rain so each family can grow their own vegetables.  Hope it rains soon. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tabogo Cays again, then south to Carriacou

May 15, 2007  Tuesday
Tobago Cays

We motored over here from Salt Whistle Bay yesterday morning.  Linda and Bob on S/V VILLOMEE followed us since this was their first visit to the Cays.  It is nice to be able to follow another boat so you are sure that you won’t hit any of the reefs or rocks or shallow spots.  You really cannot rely on your electronic charts in the Tobago Cays.  The C-Map charts are definitely wrong as they show that we sail over land.  Later we both took our dinghies out to one of the balls on Horseshoe Reef to snorkel.  The current was so strong that I did not enjoy that at all.  So we soon abandoned that area for snorkeling and moved over to the lee of one of Baradel island.  The current was still pretty strong even in the lee of that small island.  We saw several sea stars (the things we always called starfish) but they were all the small orange-red color so they all looked alike.  Linda and Bob snorkeled to a different area and found turtles.  Linda said one of them was about 5-feet across.  The turtles were feeding and Linda was able to swim directly above one for a good bit of time.  A turtle cannot see directly above.  When the turtle finally did turn so that he could see Linda, he was startled as if “Where did you come from?”  Then he wanted to swim away from her.

This morning Linda and Bob went back out to Horseshoe Reef and said the snorkeling was wonderful.  We now realize our error yesterday – we went out on the reef to snorkel at high tide.  No wonder the current was so strong.  This morning Linda and Bob were out there during low tide and said that it was perfectly calm.   But we screwed up.  We decided to go after lunch and by then it was high tide again.  Then is got cloudy during the afternoon so we never made it back out to the reef for the good snorkeling.  Instead the four of us played dominoes again in the comfort of our saloon.  Tomorrow we plan to go over to Union Island and clear out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  Next stop is Carriacou.

May 16, 2007  Wednesday
Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou
12.27.363N; 061.29.324W           Sailed 19 NM  Average speed almost 8 knots!

Love reaching and going with the current!

We half-motored and half-sailed through the southern passage, finding our way through the reefs  between the Tobago Cays and Clifton on Union Island.  S/V VILLOMEE followed us out through the reefs and then they headed over to Palm Island and we turned into the bay at Clifton.  Several people had told us that Clifton is very crowded with permanent moorings and the few places where you can anchor has poor holding, and they had advised us to go to Ashton and take a taxi/bus to Clifton to clear out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  We decided to try the bay at Clifton and see for ourselves.  Turned out to be a wise choice. 

We paid a water taxi guy 40EC (about $15 USD) to put us on a mooring and take me ashore so that I could clear out (since I am on the paperwork as the captain).   He first asked for 60EC and we refused so he quickly dropped his price to 40EC.  That seemed like a reasonable fee and kept us from having to take the dinghy off the davits.  Bill stayed onboard to monitor the boat since we obviously did not trust the mooring.   I cleared out with Customs in the main town of Clifton and then walked to the airport to clear us out with Immigration; walked back to town and found a bank to get more Eastern Caribbean currency; found a grocery store for fresh bread and something called canned chicken salami (the photo on the can shows it sliced on sandwiches; this should be interesting); and the water taxi guy brought me back to the boat.  Simple and fast clearing out.

Then we had an absolutely fantastic sail downwind to Hillsborough, where we cleared into Carriacou.  The island of Carriacou is part of Grenada so that means we won’t have to bother with clearing in when we arrive at the main island of Grenada in a couple of weeks.  The very pleasant young man working in the Immigration office at Hillsborough told us that he was from a very large family – his grandfather had 36 children!  I asked if his grandfather had more than one wife and learned that he did indeed have only one wife.  But he also had 2 “ladies.”  I didn’t ask how many children were delivered from each of these 3 women.  Heck, that averages to a dozen for each woman anyway!

After a quick lunch of yet more homegrown tomatoes on fresh baguette (Bill wasn’t brave enough to try the Halal canned chicken salami yet), we again enjoyed another short downwind sail to Tyrrel Bay.  The sailing was simply superb today.  Wind was 22-30 knots off our port stern.  There were large rolling waves from the same direction, but they were spaced far apart and the ride was very comfortable.  Bill had the sails double reefed and the boat was balanced perfectly.  It was a lot of fun.  Wish all sailing could be like that.

Here in Tyrrel Bay we found a number of our cruising friends already at anchor.  Tonight 9 of us cruisers got together at a pizza place.  Pizza was great and it was a fun evening.  Someone in the group gave us the code to log into the WiFi here in Tyrrel Bay.  So finally we can update this website.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau

May 11, 2007  Friday
Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau         Sailed 1 NM

Wednesday evening about a dozen of us walked up the hill in Saline Bay to a bar for sundowners.  The bar was closed because the owner was remodeling his house next door, but he quickly saw the benefit of stopping his manual labor and re-opening his bar to serve us.  It was a fun evening and we met some more cruisers.  Once Dutch couple sailed from Holland to the Caribbean in 1997 and are still sailing around just in the Caribbean.  The saying is:  The EC is EZ – translated:  The Eastern Caribbean is easy.   And it is.  It is very easy to sail up and down the island chain here in the Eastern Caribbean because none of the islands are very far apart.

Thursday evening we all again got together for sundowners, this time on the beach.  The flies were terrible on the beach and I was bitten several dozen times, mostly on my face.  I know better than to go onto a beach dressed like everyone else – insects love to bite me more that most people.  Everyone jokes:  “Stand next to Judy; the bugs will be so busy biting her that they will ignore you.”  So I wore long pants and long sleeved shirt in the heat and slathered on insect repellent in an effort to avoid getting bitten.  Now my face is all swollen and itchy.  Don’t know why the bugs love me so much and ignore Bill.

This morning Bill decided that the flies were too bad.  There was also a horrible “latrine” odor in Saline Bay.  Bill thinks that the restrooms built on the beach were overrun by the passengers on the Spanish cruise ship on Tuesday and that the septic system is overflowing.  Whatever the cause, the odor was too offensive for us to remain there today.  So we weighed anchor and headed over the north side of Mayreau, intending to go back to the Tobago Cays.   The winds are calmer today and it should be nice again over there.  Just as we rounded the northwestern tip of Mayreau and set course for Tobago Cays, we heard a VHF radio hail for BEBE.  It was Bob and Linda on VILLOMEE.  They were enroute from Canouan to Salt Whistle Bay on Mayreau and wanted to get together for drinks.  So we did a 180 and whipped into Salt Whistle Bay

We just love Salt Whistle Bay.  It is so very pretty and calm.  It does get quite crowded (especially with charter boats) and many cruisers refuse to come in here for that reason.  But that doesn’t bother us and we love it here.  In fact, there is a small Sunsail boat anchored off our starboard side tonight.  It is anchored too close for comfort but we didn’t tell him to move because there isn’t any more available anchoring space in this bay.  We don’t think he will swing into our boat during the night, but if he does then at least we know that all Sunsail boats are insured – and most cruising boats don’t carry insurance.  So we would rather have that insured charter boat anchored too close to us than to have an uninsured cruising boat anchored too close to us.

We visited VILLOMEE for drinks and visiting this afternoon.  A nice time.

May 13, 2007  Sunday
Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau, SVG

Spent the past few days doing what we do best – reading during the day and visiting with other people for sundowners on either our boat or theirs.  We have learned to fit right into the cruiser mode.  Bob and Linda on VILLOMEE came over this afternoon and we taught them to play Mexican Train dominoes.  Our cockpit table folds out to accommodate 6, so it is a good place to play the game under the shade awning when there are cool breezes. 

It was nice and breezy today – so breezy, in fact, that the wind blew one of Bill’s dominoes off the table.  It landed on the cockpit floor and bounced down into the small scupper opening that encircles the cockpit floor – and it went right down the cockpit drain!  What are the chances of that happening?   There was only one 2-inch drain opening on that side of the cockpit and that domino bounced right straight through it!  This is a bad thing because if one domino is missing then the set is ruined; you cannot play dominoes unless the set is complete.  Luckily, Bill was able to don snorkel mask and dive under the boat and he found that domino right away!  We are anchored in only about 10-12 feet water depth, and the water is crystal clear.  Bob hung our dinghy anchor over the side of the boat aligned with the cockpit drain opening.  This gave Bill a reference point to follow the arc of the boat swinging.  Fortunately the bottom was plain sand beneath our boat so Bill was able to spot the domino right away.  The dominoes are white with brightly colored dots, a different color for each number of the set.  Luck was with us because that domino landed with the colored dots facing upward which enabled Bill to spot it right away.  It would have been much harder to spot the solid white domino top lying on the white sand.  The colored dots helped him locate it.  Still can’t believe he was able to retrieve it so easily.

We were invited to accompany some other people to dinner at a restaurant ashore tonight, but I was bitten so badly by insects the last time we went ashore in Saline Bay that Bill didn’t think we should venture ashore here again.  My face is covered with large welts; he does not want me to suffer with any additional insect bites unnecessarily, so we declined the invitation for tonight.  Tomorrow we will move back to Tobago Cays.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Tobago Cays and Mayreau

May 5, 2007  Saturday
Tobago Cays, SVG
12.37.890N; 061.21.385W

Several vendors stopped by yesterday attempting to sell us various things.  One guy, Walter, wanted to sell us breads.  We didn’t need bread but we asked if he could get us 6 tomatoes.  This morning he arrived with 6 large tomatoes fresh from his sister-in-law’s garden at a cost of $20 EC or $7.40 USD.  These tomatoes tasted wonderful – grown naturally with no fertilizers or chemicals.  Delivered to our boat for lower price than we would have paid at the produce market in Bequia.  We also bought a baguette from Walter and it was good also.  Yum, fresh tomato on baguette sandwich for lunch, accompanied by a bowl of French style vegetable soup.

Bill also bought me another pretty blue pareo from one of the vendors.  Think that will be the end of our boat boy shopping here in the Tobago Cays.  But we will be buying more bread from Walter each day.

The Tobago Cays are incredibly gorgeous.  It is impossible to sit and read in the cockpit because the view is so spectacular that it interrupts and grabs our attention.  There are far fewer boats here than were here last May.  We have noticed this to be true at every island we have visited along the entire island chain of the West Indies.  We are visiting these islands at about the same time as last year but there are far, far fewer boats at each island.  Where did everybody go?

May 7, 2007  Monday
Saline Bay, Mayreau, SVG
12.38.042N; 061.23.844W           Motored approximately 5 NM

Winds picked up during the night and were predicted to increase another 2-5 knots today.  We could no longer even see World’s End Reef, the outermost reef off the Tobago Cays.  The Atlantic had covered it without showing any more breaking waves.  We were anchored behind Horseshoe Reef where you are supposed to anchor and it wasn’t particularly rough there; in fact it was so calm that neither of us had disturbed sleep during the night.  But there was no reason to stay there since it was too windy to snorkel the reefs or dinghy to the beaches so we pulled anchor and weaved our way westward through the reefs to Mayreau.  (Actually there was one reason to stay:  we had invited Mer and Nadine on SQUIZ to join us for sundowners today; but I called them on the radio and canceled the invitation and we agreed to meet up another time somewhere.  How rude of us!)  We are now anchored on the western side of Mayreau in Saline Bay and it is nice and calm.  Winds are still a bit high but the water is much calmer here.

Last time we were in this bay was about 1985 or 1986 and there were only a few small houses and the one 300 foot road to nowhere.  There was a large concrete dock connected to the concrete road.  The road led up the hill and stopped where a few houses were built.  There was no electricity on Mayreau and the people were very poor.  Once a month a supply boat would bring basic provisions down from the main island of St. Vincent.  We were so moved by how poor everyone was and the fact that there were elementary school age children living here who got excited by a pencil and paper that when we returned to Houston Judy put together boxes of school supplies and had them shipped down here via a Windjammer boat. 

Electricity finally arrived on Mayreau just a few years ago.  And there are now 3 to 4 times more houses on the island than there were 20 years ago, which means that it is still very sparsely populated.  There are even a few basic restaurants scattered around the island and one “beach hotel” in Saltwhistle BaySaline Bay has a pretty white sand beach with lots of palm trees.  There were 2 guys out raking the beach today and there chaise lounges are stacked in several places for when the pocket cruise ships or Windjammer ships arrive.   A very nice quiet place.

BTW, the arrogant Brit who refused to pay in Mustique and left after dark and then chickened out and turned around in the channel to the Tobago Cays has surfaced again.  Friends told us that he is now anchored right in the middle of the channel between the islands at Tobago Cays.  That is a very narrow space and he is blocking egress.  This idiot has no seamanship skills whatsoever.

Bill find entertainment on the VHF radio listening to the Moorings calls.  Today was a classic:
Charter Customer (woman):  Moorings, we need another dinghy.

Moorings:  Has your dinghy been lost or damaged?

Charter Customer:  No, the gas container is leaking and the bottom of the inside of the dinghy is oily and dirty with gasoline.

Moorings:  So do you need a replacement outboard engine or a replacement dinghy?

Charter Customer:  Well, the gas container is leaking so we need a new gas container, and a new outboard and a new dinghy.

Moorings:  Is there something wrong with the dinghy and the outboard as well as something wrong with the gas container?

Charter Customer:  No the outboard works fine and the dinghy is okay, but it is dirty and slippery and dangerous because someone could slip and fall in it.

Moorings:  We will send someone out with a new gasoline container and he will check out the dinghy and outboard while he is there.

Now, how dumb is that.  My dinghy is dirty; please send a replacement.  No wonder charter customers have a bad reputation.  (Later note:  I mentioned this incident to a land-based friend via email and she had a different take on it.  She and her husband charter several times each year.  She felt like the charter customer was correct in calling Moorings for a new dinghy because for as much as these vacations cost the customer should not be expected to repair things or clean things.  Not sure I totally agree with that outlook because sailors should know that on a boat things are always needing to be fixed or cleaned; I think cleaning up something spilled inside a dinghy should be a normal task for whoever is using that dinghy.  But if I had paid $5,000 for a week on that boat then I might feel differently about the matter.  Just goes to show you that there are always at least 2 opinions on anything.)

Another Moorings catamaran was out at Mustique when we were there last week.  They left both air conditioners running while they went ashore for the entire day for 2 days in a row.  So the generator and a/c units were running for at least 60 hours straight that we know about, and probably had been running constantly during their entire charter.  And it wasn't even really all that hot.  At night it was too cool for us to sit in the cockpit without shirts with sleeves, and they were still running their a/c units. On the third day we heard them hailing Moorings that they were returning to the base because they were out of diesel.  Bill couldn't resist.  He chimed in unidentified on the radio and said "that's what happens when you leave the generator and a/c running for days when you aren't even on the boat--you run out of fuel."  I would never own a charter boat with a generator on it.  The charter customers would burn the darn thing up.

Tito and Roberta on ALLELUIA! and Ed and Linda on DREAMTIME are coming to our boat for sundowners this evening.  Yummy snacks will be served.  Everyone who knows me knows that I am a pretty good cook and even I am looking forward to what I am preparing this evening – pork and cheese empanadas served with a neat little sauce that I made up; Sicilian caponata on crackers; and smoked fish from Ile des Saintes on toasted baguette slices with sour cream and capers and seasonings.  And the obligatory standard cheese and crackers for those with dull eating habits.   We recently met Ed and Linda and really like them.  They will be going to VZ this summer so we likely will run into each other during the next several months.

May 8, 2007  Tuesday
Saline Bay, Mayreau, SVG

Today was the day for naked people on chartered catamarans.  You see naked people on monohulls too, but usually they stay in their cockpits or lay in the sun and then wrap up in a towel to walk around on deck; they usually don’t prance around all over the boat and pose like the nudists on some of the chartered catamarans do.  The day started with a catamaran with 8 Germans aboard anchoring just in front of us off our port side.  They arrived in the bay with naked men (and one was hugely fat like Buddha) standing on the bows.  Truly a disgusting sight and a bit hard to ignore when they are so close to us.  Later in the day 3 more catamarans arrived and also anchored in front of us and on the starboard side.  Each also had naked people walking all around the decks.  Walter the bread guy was selling me a baguette when the first boat arrived and he said, “Oh no, here comes another boat of naked customers.”  How would you like to be the vendor in a small boat tied up to the side of a big boat and talking to a stranger (who is usually pretty fat which makes it all the worse) while eye level with his or her bare crotch?  I know the locals think that all these nudists are being disrespectful to the local residents of the islands.  The local people dress very modestly.  You never see an adult male in shorts and the women almost always wear dresses or long skirts.  

BTW, that is how we gained a new flotation cushion for our dinghy back in St. Thomas.  Bill rescued a cushion floating by our boat one morning and it had the boat name written on it.  We did not know this boat and did not see it near us in the anchorage, but later in the day when a few boats had left then we could see this particular boat anchored next to shore.  The people were not on their boat.  When we saw them return later in the day so Bill jumped into our dinghy and went to return their flotation cushion.  BTW, these are required by US Coast Guard to be in your dinghy or you must be wearing a life vest; no one wants to wear a life vest so everyone has one of these cushions for each dinghy passenger.  By the time Bill arrived at their boat the man had stripped and was walking around the boat naked.  So Bill turned around and we kept the cushion.  Bill wasn’t going to talk to some guy while eye level with his bare genitalia.

Bill spent most of the morning running electrical wiring to connect our main GPS to the Hydra 2000 in order to provide us with yet another back-up for using route waypoints (just in case both our computers crap out at the same time).  (We are currently looking for a third computer; can’t have too much redundancy when it comes to electronics.)  He got everything done only to realize that the cable that we have has the wrong end connectors.   It looks the same but is not.  Maybe we can purchase the correct cable in Grenada.  Bill also ran wiring to have our Raymarine ST7001+ autopilot display all the info we might ever want at the helm, such as water depth under the keel in feet instead of meters.  We are now accustomed to everything reading in meters and we both like it that way.  But sometimes in exceptionally shallow areas it would be nice to be able to see the depth in feet.  It is really scary to maneuver through shallow areas with the depth gauge displaying 0 meters.  It would be comforting to know that there really is 1 ½ or 2 feet of water under the keel.  Our depth gauge displayed 0 meters several times at the Tobago Cays and also in Los Roques, VZ; and we know it will be exceptionally shallow when we reach the San Blas Islands.  This will be a nice feature to be able to see shallow depths in feet for those situations.

Tito, Roberta, Ed and Linda came over this afternoon and we played Mexican Train dominoes in our cockpit.  Our large white shade awning provided cool comfort with the 12-16 knot breeze and we enjoyed the beautiful view of the beach while playing our silly little game.  It was fun.  Even Bill enjoyed playing the game and joking around with them. 

Friday, May 4, 2007

Recap 1st year aboard; visit to Mustique, island for the ultra rich

Further notes on completion of our first year aboard.  Sorry, this didn`t get updated on May 1 with the original blog.

During our first full year aboard we sailed (or motored) a total of 2677.75 nautical miles.

We visited the following countries:

1. US Virgin Islands
2. British Virgin Islands
3. St. Martin
4. St. Bartholemy (St. Barths)
5. St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Nevis (2 separate islands but one country)
6. Guadeloupe (including Ile des Saintes)
7. Martinique
8. St. Lucia
9. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including
            Tobago Cays
            Petit St. Vincent
10. Carriacou and Grenada (2 separate islands but one country)
11. Trinidad (did not visit other island of this country that is also called Tobago)
12. Venezuela, including
            Los Testigos
            Isla Margarita
            Puerto la Cruz
            Cayo Herradurra
            Los Roques
            Aves de Bartolomento
            Aves de Sotovento
13. Bonaire
14. Land trip to Peru

It has been a year of learning lots of new things about our boat home.  Sailing her has become easier as our experience on this particular boat has grown.  We both feel far more confident handling this boat than we did a year ago. 

We have fallen into patterns of behavior that just come naturally to each of us – Bill does some tasks and I do others.  He changes the engine oil and runs the watermaker and does most of the exterior cleaning and I do the laundry and most of the interior cleaning most of the time, but we also switch roles sometimes without discussing it.   I still do most of the meal preparation; but when I don’t feel like bothering with it or am not hungry on Bill’s schedule (especially breakfast and lunches) then Bill fixes something for himself.   Just because we live together 24 hours per day in the confines of a small boat does not mean that we do everything together all the time.

We have met many cruisers during the past year, several of whom have become good friends and others that we will never see again.  Such is the life of cruisers since most of us are continually on the move from one place to another.  Sometimes our paths cross again and sometimes not.

We have missed our kids and their wives and especially the grandchildren.  Since we all lived in the same city we saw one another frequently and we do miss that.  The grandkids Zachary and Elisabeth (BeBe) have grown a lot during our absence and that is time we have missed and cannot share with them.  Hopefully they each will remember some of the times they spent with us before we left Houston.  We very much look forward to both of them visiting us on the boat at some location in the future.

To all our family and friends who said we would never last a year:  you were all wrong!  We are still enjoying this cruising life and look forward to many more years of it.

May 2, 2007 Wednesday
Britannia Bay, Mustique
12.52.728N; 061.11.316W                       Sailed 13 NM

The MANDALAY left Bequia during the night and three more Windjammer ships arrived early this morning – the YANKEE CLIPPER, POLYNESIA, and LEGACY.  YANKEE CLIPPER was flying a pirate flag and was firing blank shots at POLYNESIA, who returned fire at will.  Smoke flying from both and cheering on both sides.  YANKEE CLIPPER won by reaching her anchoring spot first.  Sounded like a good time was had by passengers on both ships.  The LEGACY remained well outside the bay while these shenanigans were going on.  LEGACY is such a bastardized, ugly, hodge-podge of a ship that she shouldn’t play with two ships that still look like the old clipper ships that they once were.

Winds were still howling but Bill and I both were ready to move on.  We had a great send-off from Bequia.  Several of our cruiser friends were on the upper level of the ferry leaving Bequia en route to St. Vincent.  They loudly yelled “BEBE” and waved frantically at us.  They were taking the ferry over just to spend a day in St. Vincent.  No one wants to sail over there because the boat boys are so “enthusiastic” in wanting to “help” you.  So a day trip on the ferry is a good way to see St. Vincent.  It was a fun sail hard to windward to Mustique; all sails double reefed and seas at 6 to 8 feet; Force 6 on the Beaufort Scale for all you sailors.  We forgot to note our times of departure and arrival, but our average speed had to be over 7 knots.  We enjoy this type of sailing as long as it doesn’t last too long.  Thirteen miles is the perfect distance; twenty-five miles would be tiring.

Notes to sailors about this area:  The charts indicate there is a flashing light twice every 15 seconds on the buoy that marks Montezuma Shoal just east of Britannia Bay on Mustique.  The buoy is still in place but there are no lights on it so don’t sail at night around here until you have confirmed the location of this shoal; many boats have hit it.  The charts also indicate a flashing light once every 40 seconds on Petit Canouan.  That light is also no longer working.  However, there is a really bright flashing light that almost looks like a slow strobe light.  It marks the casino Donald Trump built at the posh resort Raffles on the northern end of Canouan.  You would think it is important to keep lights functioning on reefs that have sunk several boats, but beware because there are no longer lights to warn you away from these dangers.

Boats less than 70 feet in length are not supposed to anchor at Mustique; instead, they are required to pick up a mooring ball.  The moorings are very sturdy and well maintained but they do not have pennants or painters.  You must attach a line through the eye on top of the mooring ball.  Bill used our heavy wooden boat hook to literally pick up the mooring ball and raise it high enough to run a line through the eye and then dropped it back into the water while holding onto the line.  He cleated it off and we were set.  Chris Doyle’s sailing guide does an injustice to Mustique because he says that it will cost $75 for a mooring for 3 nights; he fails to mention that it is really $75 EC – which is less than $30 USD for 3 nights on a mooring.  That is a very, very low price for a mooring and we are glad to pay it.  Chris also mentions several times in his guide that the bay is rolly.  Well, it is but it is a gentle “rock me to sleep like a baby” type of roll. 

Bill had called Basil’s from Bequia and made a reservation for dinner tonight.  Basil’s normally has a “jump up” on Wednesday nights but not tonight.  That was fine with us because we knew what we wanted to eat at Basil’s – LOBSTER!  Hard to believe that we have been on this boat for a full year and have not eaten lobster even once.  After we arrived in Mustique we went ashore and visited the bar in Basil’s for a quick beer and to confirm that they had our reservation and that lobster would be available.  Answer from the bartender was yes to both questions.

So we donned our best attire and arrived a few minutes early so we could enjoy before dinner drinks.  I finally tried a Sex on the Beach (I know, a decade or two late in this).  It was made with gin and Cointreau and passion fruit juice and tasted darn good.  Should have tried this drink long ago.  Bill stuck to his normal Hairoon beer (local beer of St. Vincent).  Then we learned that the restaurant manager had made a last minute decision that they would serve a buffet tonight, so no menu service.  There went our lobster dinner! Neither of us likes buffets so we opted not to eat dinner at Basil’s tonight after all.  We made a reservation for tomorrow night and confirmed that they would service regular menu service; then returned to BEBE and had leftovers for dinner.

May 3, 2007  Thursday

Early this morning found us walking around Mustique.  We wanted to get started on our walk before the day heated up.  We had planned to pick up pain au chocolat and croissants at Sweet Pea Bakery for breakfast, but when we arrived we found that they were closed for the entire week.  Tuesday was Labour Day in SVG and several businesses used the excuse of this one holiday and closed for the entire week.  We walked about two hours and saw everything that we wanted to see; reviving memories from our last visit so long ago. 

Last time we were on Mustique we walked all over the new house under construction that belonged to Mick Jagger.  It reminded us of a Japanese jigsaw puzzle, as it was built somewhat like a maze.  There were long hallways that connected separate bedroom suites to a main house; very unique.  His original house was also there on the grounds – a tiny wooden pier-and-beam house raised a couple of feet off the ground.  And his large trampoline under the palm trees that he used for exercise.  There was a great view of the sea and some rocky tiny islands.  We wanted to see if we could find this house again.  The bartender at Basil’s told us last night that Mick had been on the island for quite some time but had recently left.

We walked through the grounds at The Cotton House, the most exclusive and nicest hotel in the entire Caribbean.  There have been many new homes built since we were last on Mustique.  There were only 27 homes when we were last here.  They belong to people like Princess Margaret, Raquel Welch, Mick Jagger, and other celebrities or rich and famous people.  Today there are more than 90 homes on Mustique, and they are all really nice and very large.  I particularly like the white one on top of the hill on the southwest tip of the island; looks like a version of the Taj Majal when viewed through my binoculars from our cockpit.  Mustique is a very well-kept island.  The other difference we found is that there are “private drive, please do not enter” signs all over the place.  We stayed strictly on the roads or paths that were not marked as private.  We found what we think is Mick Jagger’s house – or at least a similar styled house in the location that we remembered.

Nearby is an empty small lot that is not marked as private, so we walked out to the beach.  And there we found what appeared to be a stone bench located beneath the palm trees and facing the sea.  It was a beautiful location and the bench appeared to be placed so that one could sit and watch the ocean under the shade and enjoy the breeze.  Turned out that this is a gravesite for a man who was a sailor.  On the seat of the bench is engraved the poem about “a sailor home from the sea” and the back side of the bench is signed by what appeared to be his grandchildren.  What a lovely location for a final resting place for anyone who loved the sea.

Bill was entertained most of the afternoon.  He became the self-appointed mooring line helper for arriving boats that looked like they needed assistance.  Some boats could handle picking up a mooring ball with no painter attached, but most could not.  Have to remember that there are a lot of charter boats down here with people who are not experienced with all facets of boating life.  Bill would watch a boat approach the mooring field and see how they intended to handle the situation.  If they were obviously confused or short-handed, then Bill would jump into the dinghy and go help them attach lines to the ball.  Gave him something to do and people to talk to.  He also was entertained by a girl on the beach.  The couple are apparently staying someone on the island, not on a yacht.  A driver brought them to the nearby beach and left them there for a couple of hours.  After swimming the girl walked back onto the beach and promptly stripped out of her swimsuit and not is a modest manner.  She pranced around a bit as if she were on a stage and then donned a cover up top.  Stunning girl and provided Bill with entertainment.

Looking forward to our special treat lobster dinner tonight.  We are considering this our anniversary dinner to celebrate our first full year living aboard.

May 4, 2007  Friday


Early yesterday afternoon a British yacht arrived and dropped a huge anchor about 40 feet behind our boat – right inside the mooring ball field!  He dropped that anchor to the inside of 5 moorings.  Bill happened to be in the dinghy assisting another boat moor, so when he finished with the first one he went to the Brit to see if he wanted any assistance.  Bill thought the Brit was just putting down an anchor to hold the boat in place while he took his dinghy down from the davits so that he could do his own mooring line.  But this was not the case; the Brit intended to anchor – right in the middle of the moorings!  Talk about poor seamanship, not to mention safety issues and simple rudeness.  The Brit said he planned to drop far back (he didn’t; he ended up lying aligned evenly with the last mooring ball).  Yachts longer than 70 feet are allowed to anchor, but only well behind the mooring field; yachts smaller than 70 feet are required to use moorings.  This is a requirement for conservation reasons to protect the marine life and bottom.  Yachts that are anchored are still required to pay the $75 EC conservation fee, same as if on a mooring.  So it made no sense that this guy was anchoring right in the middle of the mooring field since he was going to have to pay anyway. 

Bill:  “I think they will make you pick up a mooring.”
Brit:  “I don’t think they can make me use a mooring.  That isn’t legal.”
Bill, smiling and with a shrug, and motoring away:  “It’s Mustique.”

I was concerned about where he had dropped his anchor and the fact that he did not let out enough scope and was lying too close to moored boats.  Anchored boats swing on their anchor lines differently than moored boats swing on mooring balls.  The anchored boat has a much greater arc of swing because he has longer scope.  If the winds had changed during the night as so often happens then that Brit would swing into one or more moored boats.  But he was far enough away from us that our boat was not in any danger, so we let the situation alone.  Not our problem.

Before we went in for dinner last night Bill watched the harbor master do his nightly rounds to each boat to collect the conservation/mooring fees.  The guy on the British yacht spoke with him for awhile and then the harbor master handed over a piece of paper.  The British guy did not pay but did accept the paper from the harbor master.

We went into Basil’s and didn’t give the Brit a second thought.  Basil’s is open air like most Caribbean restaurants, and it is built out over the water.  We were seated at a corner table with a beautiful view of the bay as the full moon was rising.  While we were enjoying our pre-dinner drinks (another Sex on the Beach for me; I’m developing a taste for that gin and passion fruit juice), Bill noticed that the arrogant Brit was pulling his anchor.  Only thing we can figure is that the harbor master gave him a copy of the local laws regarding anchoring and conservation fees in Mustique; the guy still refused to pay; and the harbor master said that he would have to leave.  We watched his stern light as he sailed away toward Canoaun in the darkness.  Can you believe that someone on an expensive yacht would chose to sail away at night rather than pay less than $30 USD and stay on a mooring for 3 nights?  Makes no sense to us.  Sheer arrogance:  nobody-is-going-tell-me-what-to-do type attitude.

We enjoyed our lobster dinner last night.  It was a real treat and grilled perfectly.  For those who don’t already know this tidbit, lobsters are basically marine arachnids, meaning that they are sea spiders or sea bugs.  Sounds yucky to think that you are eating a spider, but the darn things taste so good!  We definitely prefer the warm-water Caribbean lobsters over the traditional cold-water Maine lobsters.

We also had a little surprise.  Our waiter used to work as the bartended on 2 of the Windjammer cruises that we took back in the 1980s.  What a small world.  His name is Aussie and he has had a number of jobs in a number of different places since then.  Funny that we should run into him here.  Bill remembered him well because Bill spent a lot more time in the bar on the Windjammer cruises while I was prone in our cabin due to seasickness.  Aussie told us about several of the other Windjammer employees who have since passed away – like Ingrid who worked in the dining room on the POLYNESIA and Offshore Eddie who was old even back then.  Offshore Eddie was a real character.  He was a master sailmaker and could repair sails by hand and could make basically anything from canvass or sailcloth by hand.  He worked on the Windjammer ships for living quarters and all the food and rum and beer that he wanted to drink.  A real old codger who did not want to give up his life on the sea.

Aussie explained to us the employment arrangements of working for Basil’s.  The workers are provided with housing, food and even uniforms.  They must remain on Mustique and work for 30 days and then they are allowed to leave the island for 4 days.  Kind of reminded us of a modern version of slavery, but the workers seem happy with this arrangement.

BTW, I bought a small container of sour cream yesterday.  Cost $9.80 USD for a container of about 6 ounces.  Good thing that Basil’s provides meals for their employees because they certainly could not afford to buy their own food on Mustique.

Later on May 4…….

The sail was so nice that we skipped right by Canouan.  We decided there was no good reason to stop there.  Bill had bought a loaf bread in Mustique this morning so that was taken care of, and we had no intentions of visiting Raffles resort or casino; so why stop?  Then we heard a hail on the VHF “BEBE, BEBE, BEBE; ALLELUIA!, ALLELUIA!”  Our friends Tito and Roberta were on their way from Bequia to Tobago Cays and could see us.  We decided to sail on to the Cays rather than stop in Mayreau.

So that we where we sit this afternoon.  Sailed 20.5 NM in F5 conditions on a broad reach.  The way sailing should always be.  We are at 12.37.890N; 061.21.385W in the heart of the beautiful Tobago Cays, anchored behind the long southern reef with less than a meter of water beneath our keel and facing the Atlantic Ocean.

Oh, one other thing about today.  When we approached the Cays there were several boats arriving at the same time so we were forming into a line to pass single file in the narrow passage between the 3 islands.  Two boats ahead of us in line was the same British yacht that had refused to pay the mooring/conservation fee in Mustique last night.  He chickened out of the tight and shallow passage and we all had to wait for him to turn back and re-track his course.  This boat has no name on it, but it was definitely the same boat.  He has 2 wind generators mounted way out to either side on the stern; the boat is easily identifiable; and we want to avoid him as much as possible.  I think it is funny that the arrogant expert was afraid to negotiate the difficult passage and turned around.  At least that means that he is now anchored on the western side of the little islands rather on the eastern side with the rest of us.  We have dubbed this man the Anchor Guy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Celebrated anniversary of 1st year cruising full-time

May 1, 2007  Tuesday

As of today we have lived aboard for one full year.  Neither of us feels like it has been that long.  Where has the time gone?  Some of our family members had bets going that we wouldn’t last even 6 months; they were convinced that we would get bored because we would have nothing to keep us busy.  Wow, have they ever been proven wrong!  There is always something to do on a boat.  You might not feel like doing it, but there is always something to do – changing oil, charging batteries, cleaning topsides, cleaning interior, cleaning hull exterior, cooking meals, etc.— the list never ends.

We each feel more comfortable and knowledgeable about the systems and handling of this particular boat.  It is a good thing that we decided not to rush to the Pacific and spend more time in the familiar sailing grounds of the Eastern Caribbean as we gained more experience with BEBE and obtained more spare parts that should be aboard for a circumnavigation.  Now we feel more confident about being ready to tackle the longer passages that will be required in the South Pacific.  So our plans were delayed by exactly one year; plan now is to transit the Panama Canal in February 2008.  Plans can change, but those are our thoughts at this moment.

This morning the Windjammer MANDALAY arrived here in Admiralty Bay and anchored near us.  We have enjoyed looking at her today.  We did 2 trips on the MANDALAY about 20 years ago, each time for a 2-week route from Antigua to Grenada.  So looking at that boat today brought back good memories.  We talked to a few of the passengers when we were walking around town today and learned that Windjammer still uses the doubloons for bar drinks.  Rather than deal with cash at the ship’s bar, you purchase a paper circle with 20 black dots around the edge; it is called a Drinker’s Doubloon.  The dots are punched out when you buy a drink at the bar.  Bill still has one unused doubloon from one of our Windjammer trips.  The one Bill has is white in color, now they are green or yellow.  The one Bill has also cost only $5; now a doubloon costs $1 per punch dot -- $20 per doubloon!  Talk about inflation.  If we had brought the old doubloon ashore with us then we would have given it to one of the passengers or to one of the launch attendants (Windjammer employees).  But Bill’s doubloon was back on our boat and we didn’t want to make another dinghy ride in the strong winds, so we still have that old doubloon.

Winds have been blowing pretty hard for the past 3 days.  We were supposed to go to Mustique today but didn’t feel like beating into the strong winds.  It is only 13 miles but we didn’t see any reason to do even that short a sail if it would not be comfortable.  See how lazy we have become.  I did manager to paint the new name on our dinghy.  Since our boat is no longer named Security, we saw no reason to continue to have a dinghy named Safety.  I borrowed stencils from Allayne and painted T/T BEBE (tender to BEBE) on the dinghy.  This was not easy because the dinghy was on the stern davits and there was a lot of movement in the strong winds.  So I could not paint it as neatly as desired, but now at least it is identifiable as belonging to our boat. 

We decided tonight that we would leave Bequia in the morning, regardless of the strong winds.  Winds are not supposed to change until early next week and we don’t want to stay here that long.  So we are leaving tomorrow morning.  Not sure if we are going to Mustique (13 miles) or to Canaouan (20 miles); either would be a short day sail.  We will decide which one we want to visit once we are out of this bay and see where the true wind direction lies.