Thursday, December 15, 2011


Thursday 17 November – Monday 12 December

Warning this is a long update with a lot of pictures :)

We SLOWLY leave Prickly Bay at 8 PM Wednesday night. Even though we knew where the boats between us and the “exit” were after checking it out in the daylight, once it was DARK it sure looked different ! I am on the bow with flashlights to light up the few boats we need to pass, holding on as we start to ride the swells coming in. Get the anchor secured and back into the cockpit to set the sails. Wind is blowing 20 + knots so the genoa (head sail) is triple reefed and double reefed in the main sail, and still making 8 + knots of speed with 6 ft. waves on the beam. We have a great ride down to Trinidad hitting a top speed of 14 knots riding down a wave. We are docked at Crews Inn Marina in Chaguaramas Bay (sha-ger-rah-mus) by 9 Thursday morning. Checking into customs & immigration, located right next to the marina, takes a while. NO problems just slow, duplicate info. on different forms that have several copies with carbon paper to use so you have to be sure to press hard to go through to all the copies. Then it has to be looked over, separated, and stamped so about 2 hours later we are cleared in. Lunch on board, free water here so boat gets a good scrubbing. They have a cruisers net on the VHF radio here also, but we could not hear all of it as we were approaching the bay with the hills between us. But we see another boat we know (Fox Sea) in the marina so we get caught up from them. Tonight happens to be a cruisers pot luck here at our marina, so after a look around to see what is nearby, and a swim in the pool we get ready to see what we can do for dinner. Just as it time to go out we have a huge downpour, so we dine on board and call it an early night. Friday we hear on the cruisers net about a recovered lost dinghy MINUS the 15 hp engine out in the nearby anchorage. This is a huge problem here if you do not raise your dinghy up out of the water at night the chance of it getting stolen is very good. They do not really want the dinghy just the outboard motor (15 HP +), so if they don't sink the dinghy someone might find it. This owner does not have the means to raise the hard bottom dinghy so is looking to trade for a soft / inflatable dinghy that he can lift onto his boat. Steve thinks this might be an opportunity for us as we are in the market for a hard bottom dink. So he calls the guy to set up a meeting time, he is on the hard in one of the yards so comes by to look at our dinghy and is working on a way to get out to the boat that recovered his so we can look at it. (He had lent his dinghy to a friend out in the anchorage the night it was stolen). Friday afternoon we visit a couple of the boat yards to get info. on getting hauled out in a weeks time, visiting the chandleries and shops & restaurants along the way to see what is available. Chaguaramas Bay is part of a national park in the far northeast corner of the island. No real development EXCEPT the boat yards and related facilities, with a few restaurants scattered amongst the boat yards and a couple of small grocery stores. A great place for boat work but pretty isolated from town. Once back at our boat we talk to our neighbor who is also getting hauled out and has the same boat as ours. He informs us that Peaks travel lift is big enough so you do not need to remove the backstay or forestay, which is a big hassle, so easy decision now, we will go to Peaks to get hauled out. Saturday we put the dinghy in the water to go back over to finalize the dates and contract with the boatyard. Then go by another boatyard to pick up Alex, the guy with the hard bottom dinghy to trade. In Trinidad boaters are NOT allowed to sell things to each other, but we are allowed to barter or trade, that is why we are thinking about trading our dinghy for this other one. Pick up Alex then go out into the anchorage looking for the boat that found his dinghy. Tow it back to the boatyard dinghy dock, where we transfer our motor to it so we can take it for a spin to see how it does. The dinghy is not in as good a shape as we had hoped and it is smaller then ours so we are thinking that now it might not be such a good trade. With our small 5 hp engine this heavier dinghy goes even slower then ours. Back to the dinghy dock and Steve talks to another boater that has an 8 hp outboard motor to trade but his is much older then ours so again not such a good deal for us. So after all that we decide to keep our dinghy & motor for now until we get back up to duty-free St. Marten where the price is much lower. Saturday afternoon as we get ready for Sean's visit we have a huge thunderstorm. By the time Sean's plane lands at 10 the rain has long stopped but many streets remain flooded and or blocked by rocks & mud from landslides but the taxi driver gets Sean to the marina. We stay up late talking, catching up and feeding Sean. Steve going through all the things he had ordered and had Sean carry down with him.
Sunday we are up at 6 AM as Steve & Sean will be meeting up with Island Hikers to explore the Yarra River. Make them lunch & snacks to bring with them, back packs with a change of clothes and a dry bag and they are off the boat by 6:30 to catch a taxi / bus into downtown Port of Spain to meet up with Island Hikers to head north to Maracas Bay and the river. This is a non-profit club where members organize and lead trips through the jungle, and invite non-members to participate. Most people travel up by private car, but they've arranged a minivan for people without transportation. The trip up is uneventful for Steve, but Sean gets a little excited at the sheer drop offs to the rocks below on the coast road, and the casual way of driving. After a brief stop at Maracas bay to rendezvous with the other vehicles, they travel another 10 miles or so to the head of the “trail”, which is really not marked at all. The leaders have machetes, and hack their way through the jungle, marking the trail with broken branches pointing the way for those following. Occasionally Steve & Sean get off the trail and have to search around to find it again. About an hour into the hike, it starts raining hard. But the rain forest canopy is so dense it stays dry on the ground for a long time. Eventually it trickles down, and then the path turns to very slippery mud that makes going up or down steep slopes very treacherous, so they start grabbing anything they can to help keep their footing. Unfortunately one of the things Sean grabs has small splinter like thorns that break off and imbed themselves in his hand. Eventually they come to the river and begin wading down it, quickly discovering that its much easier to float than wade since the bottom is a mix of loose gravel, large rocks and sunken tree limbs that are invisible in the brown muddy water and make unsure footing. They said they looked like two drunks stumbling down the shallows. The highlight of the river was supposed to be a gorge that you float through, but when the group got there several went ahead to reconnoiter, and decided the risk of a sudden water rise with all the rain that had fallen was too great, and led the group on a detour around through the jungle. Steve & Sean were disappointed, but still had a good time and were glad they did it. I was glad I did not go, as the footing along the trail and river would not have been good for my bad knee. Meanwhile back at the marina I had a massage, manicure & pedicure. After the hike, Steve & Sean had a long wait in the minivan while the rest of the passengers finished the hike and cleaned up. The driver kept them entertained with a monster sound system he installed in the van, one of those where you can hear and feel the base a quarter mile away. When everyone got loaded up, the driver asked if everyone had all there gear, but with the music Steve though he said something about beer, and replied that he'd kill for one about now. The driver's eyes lit up, and he promised that would be the first stop of three on the way back. After 20 minutes of driving, he pulled over at a roadside grocery, and Steve got out to get a couple of beers for himself and Sean. To his surprise, the driver followed him in and got one for himself. Then they discussed the subject of drink/drive laws in various countries as the driver cradled his beer between his legs and guided the van through the hairpin turns along the coast road. They pulled into Maracas beach for the second stop, to get food at the numerous roadside stands there. Steve & Sean decide to try “Shark & Bake”, a Trini specialty. It consists of a piece of deep fried dough in a flat elliptical shape that they put a piece of breaded deep fried shark on. The rest is up to you – there's a long salad bar style table of toppings like lettuce, tomato, onions, cole slaw, and about a dozen sauces – garlic, cilantro, habanero etc. While they much on the sandwiches with another beer, they enjoy the beach scenery of young girls in bikinis. One outrageously dressed one in fishnet stockings, boots and hot pants turns out to be a guy, that Sean promptly names the “Trini Tranny”. It is 7 pm before they get back, quick showers and dinner at the restaurant here at our marina. It has been 2 long days especially for Sean, I think we manage to get to bed before midnight.
Monday we let Sean sleep in as Steve & I go visit Jesse with Members Only to arrange some tours during Sean's visit. Jesse and his company Members Only provide many wonderful services to the cruising community. From airport runs, scheduled market trips, to assorted day trips around the island. He and his wife Sharon Rose do a fabulous job coordinating group and individual requests to get you around the island to see whatever it is you want to see. We spend the rest of the day doing a few boat things, hauled dinghy on deck to clean & dry out to re-patch our little leak, cloudy day so Steve installed the new controller box for the solar panels that Sean brought down with him.
We give Sean the good news that on Tuesday we will be picked up at 4:30 AM, Sean is less a morning person than I am so the “WTF I am on vacation” look he gives us is priceless. We get all our “stuff” ready Monday night and get a few hours sleep before getting up to meet the taxi to take us to the ferry dock to catch the 6 AM ferry over to Tobago for a days outing. We have opted for this way to see Tobago with Sean as it would be too long of a trip to take our boat for 2 days during Sean's week visit. You have to check in for the ferry an hour before, and much to Steve & my surprise we have to go through security scanners like at the airport. Steve has his backpack with his Leatherman in it and I have my fanny pack with a small 3” Swiss army knife, both considered knives and NOT allowed on board ! They do have a way to check Steve's backpack so he goes to do that, the guy did not want to since it is clearly a carry on piece so Steve had to explain our “knives” all over again. The first of many laughs we will have during the day. The ferry ride over is 2 ½ hours and we are in calm seas, many passengers going over to work (delivery trucks) so they quickly find a spot to sprawl out and go to sleep. A decent food service area and a bar (for return trip) the seats are in dire need of re- upholstery but for the most part pretty comfortable, some with tables. We arrive in the main port town of Scarborough, claim our checked backpack and meet up with Annie our “tour guide” for the day. Bless her heart, she was a substitute for the person Jesse usually uses. Very sweet but she has to be the worst tour guide any of us had ever dealt with. She was in her 60's and grew up on Tobago and spent most of her life there, but just about any question we would ask she would say “well I don't really know”. There were 2 waterfalls we read about in the guide books and were along our route. When we first asked she told us the waterfalls had dried up and were gone due to an earthquake. Well we just looked at each other trying not to laugh out loud, Sean looking at her in disbelief asking seriously ! We drove by a road that WE recognized as leading to one of the water falls so we asked her to pull over so we could ask. Yes the Rainbow waterfall was up that road, Annie had never heard of this one and she use to work up this way. The road was not paved and did have some potholes so Annie went up the road at a snails pace. Annie complained about the condition of the road, stopping to ask everyone she saw if the waterfall was up this road while eating some kind of mystery subway sandwich that she somehow managed not to hit Sean in the face with as she waved her arm around while talking. We should have let Sean out of the car to run ahead to see what was up there, would have been much faster, but we were committed to see it to the end. We did find the McKenna home and restaurant that is the entrance to the falls as it lies on his property BUT no one was home so no guide to take us up. PAINFULLY slow back down the road, this time asking Annie to turn the A/C on since we had NO air flowing through the windows going so slow. Glad to have shown Annie part of her island she did not know about. Next down the road a ways to Roxborough and the Argyle Waterfall. Annie was vaguely familiar with this place. WHY when we told her we were interested in seeing waterfalls she did not mention this one would be along the way and a good place to stop no one could guess. We get there and we go in, pay our small entrance fee and meet up with a guide, Annie stays behind to wait with the car. It is an easy path down to the falls and the guide points out some wildlife and different plants along the way. The trail up to the higher tiers of the falls are not so easy so I stay down below and Steve & Sean climb up. It is beautiful up above and they get to take a massaging shower under the waterfall. As they are climbing back down on the cliff right above the pool where the guide & I have been waiting, they decide to see about jumping down ! As they are looking down to see if it is possible I look at the guide and ask can they do that. He says yes BUT they have to be sure to jump out to miss the rocks sticking out !! I am not convinced as other locals are asking “are they going to jump” ? The guide shaking his head yes as he shrugs, I ask again are you SURE they can do this. We try to yell up to tell them where the better spot is and to tell the to jump OUT so they do not hit the rocks below. They jump and manage not to hit, though Steve comes close (see video). Back down and change into dry clothes, it is 1:30 in the afternoon and we are getting hungry. The park only has snacks so we ask Annie where is a good place to get some good local food. She tells us there is no place up here !!! Again we ask seriously !!! No place to eat up here, well none that she knows about. Looking at the map, she is talking about driving further to loop around the island with no clue as to where we could get food along the way. We are on a limited time schedule that she is aware of, we need to be back to the Ferry by 4- 4:30 to catch the 5 pm ferry back to Trinidad. The route she has in mind looks like it would take too long so we decide to head back the way we came and go down past Scarborough to the beaches by Pigeon Point to see if we can find something to eat before we have to leave. Taking the long way thru town we finally get to Pigeon Point and the 1st place we stop at does not have any curried crab & dumplings a reported best Tobago dish that Steve & Sean wanted to try. Drive a little further and find some small local kiosks set up along a beach. I find some baked chicken and Steve & Sean try the curried crab. They are NOT impressed and it is quite the sight watching them trying to dig out the crab meat with a little plastic spork after cracking the shell with their teeth. Who knew we were supposed to bring our own crab cracking utensils. If not for the messy curry we could have used Steve's leather-man or my Swiss army knife. Back to the ferry terminal say goodby to Annie and go check in, Steve asks where he can check his bag. The lady at the counter looks at him like he is crazy and just points us to the door, there is NO security line to go through on the way back to Trini. I guess people only get knifed on the way over not on the way back ???? We get better seats and buy a bottle of rum & mixers to share on the way back as we play cards and laugh about the events of the day. Sean can say he has been to Trinidad AND Tobago, with Tobago being a once in a lifetime experience we all hope.
Wednesday we have a 9 AM pick up at the marina for a Taste of Trini Tour with Jesse James of Members Only and our group of 12, including Jesse. What a fabulous day this winds up to be, driving around the island stopping at many local places for a taste of some local dishes. This is the list of the different foods we tasted (I did not taste a few); #1 Saltfish buljol; #2 Smoke herring; #3 Coconut bake; #4 Doubles; #5 Buttered cassava; #6 Pelau; #7 Pommerac; #8 Portugals; #9 Chiquitos; #10 Saheena; #11 Aloo pie; #12 Baiganee; #13 Kachourie; #14 Dhal puri roti; #15 Sada roti; #16 Buss-up-shut (a.k.a. paratha roti); #17 Curry chicken; #18 Curry gizzard; #19 Curry goat; #20 Stew beef; #21 Curry mango; #22 Curry pumpkin. #23 Fried aloo; #24 Baigan chokha; #25 Pineapple chow; #26 Phulourie; #27 Pommecythere; #28 Sweet bread; #29 Cassava pone; #30 Red coconut tart; #31 Trini-style Chinese pork; #32 Curry duck; #33 Cocoa bean pulp straight from the pod; #34 Jelly coconut; # 35 Kurma; #36 Barfi; #37 Geera pork; #38 Grilled fish; #39 Green fig salad; #40 Fried sweet potato; #41 Pastelle; #42 Barbecued pigtail; #43 Peanut and other flavours of homemade ice cream; #44 Goolab jamoon. So we got to taste a lot of different foods as well see parts of the island that are off the typical tourist path, accompanied by Jesse’s lively informative commentary of Island history before being dropped back off at 8 PM.
Thursday is Thanksgiving and the cruisers have organized a Turkey pot luck dinner. Zanzibar the restaurant at Peaks boatyard as agreed to cook the turkeys and everyone brings a dish to share. Steve goes over early to help carve the turkeys. It turns out to be a lovely event with plenty of delicious food held under a huge mango tree in the picnic area of the boatyard.
Friday we get picked up by Jesse again as a group of 8 of us head off to see the Asa Wright Nature Center and the Caroni Swamp. Since Jesse is driving we get to stop for doubles for breakfast along the way. Taking some of the same roads and a few different ones we get quizzed on the island facts he talked about the other day and learn more about this part of the island. The nature center is on 200 acres up 1200 feet in the mountains. A beautiful estate from 1907 now housing a museum, and restaurant with a veranda overlooking the property where you can watch all kinds of birds flying around. They do have some overnight lodging for those wanting to explore more of the trails and night critters common to the area. We go on a short guided tour hearing about and seeing some birds, flowers and trees in this beautiful setting. Have a wonderful buffet lunch then are free to walk around a little and or just watch all the birds from the veranda before heading out to travel down the mountain to the Caroni Swamp. We arrive there by 4 to head out on a guided tour by boat into the swamp. We are here to see the national bird the scarlet ibis as they congregate for the night on one of the small mangrove islands out in the swamp. As we head out our guide stops several times to point out other birds as well as a snake, some tiny climbing crabs and a few other wildlife things living in the swamp. Once out there we see the birds flocking to the island, their bright red color standing out against the sky as the sun is setting. They all go to the same island filling the green branches so they now look like they have red flowers all over. An incredible sight to watch. The scarlet ibis fly high in V formation, next the white herons start flocking in flying just above the water, skimming the surface. As they land on the same island they disappear into the trees as they sleep inside. Back to the boat by 7 PM after a wonderful day.
Saturday we take a short day sail over to the island of Chacachacare (shak-a-shak-are-ee) up till the late 1970's this was a large Leper colony run by Dominican nuns. The island & it's buildings have all been abandoned but the ruins of the buildings can be carefully explored and an active manned light house is a short hike up a road. Steve & Sean hike up for the view, and find several mango trees with lots of fruit at the top. The mangoes aren't ripe yet, but Steve picks a few anyway to make a Thai Green Mango Salad. A lot of boats come over for day trips or to anchor for a few days of quiet. We head back by 4:30 and are tied up at the dock by 6, in time for showers, Sean to pack & to get dressed by 7:30 to get picked up for dinner downtown on the way for Sean to catch his overnight flight back to the states. We go to an Indian restaurant called Apsara, and have a great meal to end a great weeks visit with Sean.
Sunday we sleep late after staying up very late watching TV when we got home from dinner. Do Laundry and get the boat ready to get hauled out on Monday.
Monday we are across the way and into the lift slip ready to go by 8. Get hauled out and pressure washed then moved over to our spot and put on stands and the keel rested on blocks. Discuss that the keel needs to be heavily sanded down and primed before it gets painted, the rest of the bottom just a light sanding, and decide to have the sides waxed before they paint. As we checked the bottom Steve noticed that one of the bow thruster props was missing. We had an incident where a rope got caught in it, and Steve checked it shortly afterward, but sometime, somewhere after that it came loose and spun off. So he goes to visit several of the local shops that might have one to no avail. They tell him to check with another shop, so he comes back and calls. They do not have one in stock but can order it and should be able to get it to us before we go back in the water. Go down to the shop to pay for it so there is no delay in the order then we go to the hotel to check in and drop our things off. You can, and most people do, stay on their boats while on the hard in the boatyards. Down here in Trinidad if you are staying on board you also rent an air cooled AC unit to put in one of your hatches to keep things cool and the humidity down. They could not get us an A/C until Thursday and since we would only be there till Friday that was not going to be much good. So with the heat & humidity not to mention mosquito’s if you have to leave hatches open we (I) decided the hotel would be a better option. Not by much, the hotel had lovely grounds and a nice swimming pool and curbside appeal but the rooms were a bit run down. The first room we checked into was very basic, just a bed, no tables or chairs. Strike 1. But it did have an ironing board, so we borrowed a couple of melamine chairs from outside the room and made a makeshift table to put Steve's computer on. They did have WiFi service as advertised, but it was too weak to connect from the room. Strike 2. Then a couple of maintenance guys showed up at the door asking if they could do some testing of our bathroom because there was a leak in the ceiling of the room below. We left them pouring buckets of colored water into the bathtub to try to find the leak. When we came back about 8 that night, tired, hot and sweaty, Steve went in to take a shower, and discovered we had no way to turn the shower on, and no plug for the bathtub. Evidently it was the shower/tub diverter valve that was leaking, and their solution was to just remove it. Steve tried to call housekeeping or the front desk, and found the phone wasn't working. So hot sweaty and grumpy he redressed and went to the front desk to complain. The result was moving us into a suite that actually had a few sticks of furniture at the same price as the other room. We had plenty of hot water for showers and A/C so not too bad for just a few days. A nice little walk back & forth every day, with the boat yard fenced in, the entrance was down the road a little ways. Boat yards are interesting places a lot of coming and going and a lot of work being done, I am amazed at how many people spend weeks and months (some years) living on their boat in the boatyard. But if you need a lot of work done this would be the place to do it as this area has just about any yacht service you could need with knowledgeable people in the trade. They start work on our boat right away, start the polishing that afternoon. Tuesday they finish polishing and sanded and painted the bottom. Wednesday no work on the boat so we go to The Falls Mall in town walking around in the A/C looking at the beautiful Christmas decorations. No hardware store so Steve is disappointed. We know it is almost December but somehow when it is 90° with 100 % humidity it is easy to forget. Wednesday night is a cruisers pot luck dinner at Peaks boatyard that we attend. Thursday they finish the 2nd coat of paint and are done except the 2 spots where the keel is resting on blocks. We still do not have the prop for the bow thruster. Steve has been calling the guy several times to check on the status of where it is and if it has cleared customs but no definite answer as to when it will be here. Steve explains how much harder it will be to put on once we are in the water and Ian assures him he is “working it” to get it to us. We are scheduled to go in at 3 on Friday, and while we are away from the boat the neighbor tells us they came by to see if we could be ready to go earlier. We have still not received the bow thruster prop so the last thing we want to do is go earlier. They come and get the neighbor and tell us we will be next. Steve tells them they still have to sand and prime the 2 spots on the keel, they say they will just paint those 2 spots when we are in the lift. Steve says NO WAY, if it is not sanded and primed it will just peel. So a few more heads are consulted and it is decided they will leave us in the travel lift overnight. Keel gets sanded and primed and Steve finishes the painting. In the meantime Steve is on the phone several times with Ian asking where is my prop PLEASE get it to me tonight. Having checked out of the hotel, we are staying on the boat floating in air on the slings of the travel lift. At 10 PM we get a call from Ian and he is entering the boat yard to deliver the prop! Steve gets 2 coats of paint on it and gets it installed very glad to be doing so on land and not underwater. Saturday morning we are back in the water by 9 and back across to Crews Inn marina. Even though we were only in the yard 5 days with limited open windows, dust & dirt still got inside and outside topside was dirty and full of little rust spots from metal floating around the yard and landing on the boat. We spend the rest of that day, and Sunday and part of Monday giving the boat a total scrub down inside & out.
They have several routine shopping trips that they do weekly for the cruisers, we have not been on any so we sign up for several this week. With $1 US = to $6 TT you can get some good deals on things here, and it is a good place to stock up. Not that we have a lot of room to put things to really stock up, it is always an adventure seeing what is available. Tuesday we go to True Value (supermarket) located at Long Circular Mall, so you get to go to both places. Then a stop at Malabar Meats a specialty shop, selling meats & cheeses and other hard to find items. Wednesday we go to Price Mart a big box store like Sams. Some good deals if you can buy huge packages of things. We manage to find a few more things. Thursday they have put together a trip down to Charlotte Street downtown Port of Spain. A very interesting place, all kinds of strange little shops selling anything you can think of with street vendors set up in front, on the street, selling more things you don't need. A bit overwhelming for our taste, I would rather pay 2X as much than have to rummage through all the clutter trying to find what it is you are looking for. But it is a scene to be seen. This is NOT a tourist area, so none of the hassle of vendors trying to sell you souvenirs. Shop keepers very nice asking if they can help you find something. Some GREAT fabric stores, a lot of cruisers come down here to buy fabric then make or have someone make what they need. IF we were going to be here longer OR had more time we could shop for material to redo our salon cushions which will be our next big project on our to-do list. Thursday evening we get to attend another pot luck dinner held here at our marina and we have a big group show up as the weather is beautiful. Friday evening is a charity event put on by YSATT (Yacht Services Association of Trinidad & Tobago). YSATT is a non-profit organization helping the yachting community, individuals and business, deal with the government and maintaining fair standards. A small entry fee gets you in and you buy chits to buy food the local business have donated, all going to help the poor have a little better Christmas. Another fun event where we get to meet more fellow cruisers and sample more Trini food. Saturday morning we are up bright and early to catch the 6:30 AM ride into town to go to the town market. Where they sell fruits, veggies, fish, and any & all parts of beef, pork, and poultry. Again NOT a tourist destination so no pressure to buy this or that. Just one of those places you have to see and experience as the locals do. Saturday evening we go to see the Silver Stars Steel Orchestra T&T's champion steel band. The steel pan being the only instrument invented in the 20th century and right here in Trinidad & Tobago. This band was started 60 years ago by a group of high school kids, and many of its members are high school kids today. They are truly a gifted group of young & old musicians and it is unbelievable all the different sounds they get from the different types of steel drums. All the different steel bands have their own “pan yards” where they practice and perform. We were told it is an outside venue so were thinking out in a field but it is an open partially covered courtyard with adjoining buildings. Towards the back (where we got a table) the acoustics were not the best but once you went up front to the dance floor no distortion and to watch them play was just fabulous. What we saw was just part of the band, maybe 25 pans or so. We're told for the competitions they field up to 140 pans! After their 2nd break a well known Trini singer Denyse Plummer got up to sing. She was great but VERY LOUD, and unfortunately since we came with a group it was time for us to leave before the grand finale. We have a great time experiencing one of Trini's legendary steel pan acts. Sunday we get to experience a different Trini holiday event. We go to see the Lydians Christmas in the Cocoa concert. This takes place at Queen's Hall a very nice preforming arts theater. The Lydian's are one of T&T's best musical organizations and this performance combines some traditional Christmas songs along with non traditional as well as Parang music from Argentina. Another great experience of Trini culture. We have only been here 3 ½ weeks and it is easy to see how this country can get into your blood, it is a very intoxicating culture and we will miss it. 
Monday what we thought would be an easy morning to get ready to head back north to Grenada, turns out to be hectic and unusual. First Steve has the VHF radio off as he is listening to Chris Parker's weather report verifying the weather still looks good for our passage. All of a sudden I hear a lot of voices on the boat next to us and look out and see (white) smoke billowing up from their deck. I yell to Steve that there is a fire on the boat next to us. We get up on deck prepared to move out of the slip, but see that the marina's crew already has the fire under control. It was a frayed wire in the 220 volt system supplying power to the air conditioning that shorted out and ignited foul weather gear stored in a deck locker. Very messy, but not too damaging to the boat. BUT another 10 minutes or so and it would have been terribly serious. A little while later I hear Steve talking to 2 people from the cockpit. Due to the accents of the people I thought it was another couple we had met and were getting ready to leave that day also. I was surprised when Steve called me up top to see a very young German couple Michael 19 years, and Stefanie 18 years old. They are desperately looking for a way out of Trinidad. They flew here a week ago to meet up with another German boater to be crew on his boat. Even though they met him a few times back in Germany things have gone really bad since they arrived and it is not working out. It sounds like an awful situation, so we agree to give them a ride to Grenada. This entails them going to collect all their belongings, then they and their captain meeting us in immigration to sign them off that boat and onto ours. It takes a while but finally gets done, we are away from the marina by 12:30 starting to head for Scotland Bay, realizing we forgot to fuel up so turn around quick stop at fuel dock then continue on to Scotland Bay.
Scotland Bay is a nice little anchorage around the corner from Chaguaramas where we will just anchor and rest a little while before heading out in the evening for our overnight passage to Grenada. We go say hi to 2 other boats we know that came in a little while after us with the same plan to stage there and rest up for the passage. We have dinner and get under way a little after 7. We have current pushing us out but not much wind and it is on the nose so motor sailing to start. The almost full moon starts to rise at 8 and by 8:30 we have plenty of light to see the calm seas. The wind has picked up and at a better angle so we turn the motor off and are sailing 8 + knots with 1-2 ft. seas. A sweet ride all the way to Grenada, except for the little bit we were asked to alter course to go behind a seismic vessel out doing surveys trailing 5 miles of cables. We had to turn west and go down wind, the change of direction causing a sloppy motion for the boat, waking Steve up a few minutes before his shift was to start. We watch the sun rise as we approach and enter Prickly Bay and are anchored by 7. We get a short rain shower to rinse the salt off the boat just in time to listen to the cruisers net and say Hi we are back in Grenada. Michael & Stefanie are still catching up on sleep after helping with watches, when they wake they go for a swim and then start to look online for a place to stay. We have no room or need for crew so they will be getting off Ocean Star here to try to find another boat to crew on. They are a very sweet young couple with a lot of enthusiasm towards their adventure and we wish them all the best. We will spend Christmas here in Grenada before moving on.
Happy Holidays to all, we miss and love you all very much.

link to pictures:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hanging out in Grenada

End of September – middle of November (summary)

WOW !!!! Time really does fly by when you are having fun and living in paradise. As I have mentioned before Grenada is a hurricane season hang out for a LOT of boaters. Each bay and or marina becomes like your neighborhood where you hang out most of the time with occasional visits and or moves to the other bays or marinas for social outings. There are also social outings inland where groups of people go from their various different “home base”. So you are always meeting new people and running into different friends at the many different events. We finally got our arch put on the boat, Nick at Technick in Spice Land Marina did a fabulous job, and we now have solar panels to help keep the batteries topped off. With Hurricane season being over many boats are moving on and many boaters who had their boats on the hard for the season are returning. Some staying awhile and some moving out as soon as they are in the water. So while some friends are moving on we are still meeting new ones or seeing old ones just returning. It is easy to see why Grenada is such a popular place, we have grown very fond of it here and it feels like home. But just like back home in the states you do not always see everything there is to see in your home town or state. So while we did see and do a lot of things, there are some things we missed, but we will be returning again so maybe next time. We got a practice run in leaving last week when several friends from Texas flew in and rented a catamaran for the week. Laura & Rick, Diane & Gary, Terry & Mike, & Paula and Tom we had a great time visiting with you. We sailed up to Carriacou and did 2 dives with them on Monday 11/7. The reefs around there were some of the healthiest reefs we have seen in a long time. No recent hurricane damage like so many of the others we have seen. They wanted to go up to Tobago Cays in the Grenadines which requires checking in & out of the 2 different countries. Since we just renewed our visas for Grenada and would be leaving soon we did not want to go through the process and pay the $ twice, so we stayed a night at Petite Martinique (part of Grenada) and then over to Petit St Vincent and to Chatham Bay on Union Island – both in the Grenadines BUT isolated anchorages that you can spend a night at without checking into the country. Meeting back in Carriacou on Friday for 2 more dives. Spending a couple of nights dinning on board their spacious cat that could easily seat all 10 of us, and dinning ashore a couple of nights with friends Judy & Gordon in Carriacou we had a great week. Reminding us how much fun it is to move around and explore different Islands and anchorages. So now after 3 ½ months we will be leaving Grenada again, temporarily to head down to Trinidad where Sean will come to visit for Thanksgiving.

you may have to copy & paste link ?? looks different this time so not sure how it will come out on blog.

link to pictures;

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How Steve plays while Alice is away

Thursday, Sept 1 — Took Alice in the dinghy to shore to catch a pre-booked taxi to the airport. We get to the parking lot and no taxi, but the boatyard security guard told us he’d gone to pick up another fare to the airport from the nearby medical college, and would be “right back”. In the islands that can mean anything from a few minutes to a few hours, and after 15 minutes Alice starts getting a bit panicky, calling the taxi on the cellphone from hell that isn’t cooperating. He eventually shows up 20 minutes late, loads up Alice and her luggage, and I wave goodbye. Back to the boat, check the weather on the Internet to see what might be headed our way from Africa. Spend the rest of the day cleaning the hull, various boat projects, Spanish lessons and a little R&R.
 Friday, Sept 2 — Decide to go into St. Georges for some free Jazz at the National Museum. To get there, I dinghy into De Big Fish, a local bar/restaurant, leave my dinghy locked up to their dinghy dock, and walk about ¼ mile to the main road to pick up a bus to St. Georges. Buses in Grenada are a cheap way of getting about. Alice hasn’t described these "buses" in the blog yet, and they’re not like buses most Americans or Europeans would think of so I’ll give it a try.

To start with, they are 12-16 passenger minibuses (vans), not ‘big’ buses. Their capacity is dependent on the size of the people riding, and the determination of the driver and conductor to have a “full” load. Most buses are privately owned, only loosely controlled by the government, embellished with a name, and sometimes with slogans, front, rear, or both. They are colorful and intriguing, And can be rather amusing at times.  Some of the ones I've seen include: Humble they self - Too much ah dem - Nothing yet - My enemy is not necessary - Final Assassin - Scare dem - Bite dem - Celebrate - Take that and push it, Love yourself.     OK, I think you get the idea.  They come in every color under the rainbow, and quite often in rainbow colors.  They do have route numbers, and an abbreviated list of stops on their route on their windshields. But I have yet to find a map that actually shows the routes, information it seems is to be transmitted by word of mouth (You take the #1 bus to this roundabout, then switch to the #2 bus that’s going to this place, make sure you don’t get the #2 to the other place, and so on). And even if they did have a printed route, that would only be a guideline as to how they might wish to travel should they be so inclined. They do not have a timetable. They may or may not stop at a "bus stop". They can sort of be identified by License plate number plate, If it starts with an ‘H’, then it’s a bus or a taxi. (A bus must have a conductor, so if the driver is alone, it is a taxi. Taxis cost more. A lot more.)   So you’re probably getting a bit confused as to how you actually catch a bus in Grenada, what with the confusion of bus styles, names, routes and capriciousness of the operators. You don’t. The bus catches you. All you really need to do is walk down any major road, and you will soon hear a series of short beeps from a horn behind you. That’s a bus, announcing that it sees you, is coming up behind you, and wants to know if you want to get on. It’s amazing the amount of information that can be transmitted in a series of simple toots. This is where the conductor, aka doorman/fare collector comes into play. He’ll be watching you like a hawk watches a rabbit. The slightest twitch, nod or recognition of the buses existence will bring it to an instant halt, on the road’s shoulder if it exists and is convenient, or otherwise in the middle of traffic. The conductor will slide open the door, leap out and wave you in, then jump in behind you and close the door. Where you sit is generally up to you. Most people sit as close as possible to the door, so if the bus is more than half full, you’ll find yourself squeezing past knees, poking your butt in their faces, and trying to cram yourself into a space about ¼ the size of an economy seat on the cheapest airlines. If you’re lucky, you can get a window seat where you’ll have fresh air flow to dry the sweat that erupted all over your body as you entered the van. If you’re real lucky, you might find yourself grinding hips with someone attractive. But forget any attempt at conversation, the noise from the open windows and the van’s engine revving will make that nearly impossible, if the reggae music blaring from the speakers gives it any chance at all.   So now you’re in.  How do you get off?  Be aware of your surroundings.  If you’ve been down the route before and can recognize where you are, just knock (gently) on the roof. Somehow your knock will be heard by the conductor or driver, and you’ll be let off at the next convenient stopping place. If not, talk to the conductor before you get in, or if possible underway. They’re very friendly and patient, and will generally get you where you want to go. As you get out, you pay the conductor 2.50$EC (about 90 cents US).  It’s a flat rate whether you go 1 block or 10 miles.  Or, if you don’t have exact change, pay him enroute, so he doesn’t have to waste time making change when you exit. For double the fare, you can usually get the bus to drop you off at your final destination, if it’s not too far from the main roads, he’s not too busy, and is favorably inclined.

OK, so I made it into St. Georges and to the National Museum (remember how I started this story?) The jazz was in a medium sized room on the second floor, and reminded me very much of the clubs in New York’s Greenwich Village in the ‘70s — jazz, poetry readings, guest performers. They served beer and light snacks from coolers outside the doors. I had a delightful time. The crew from Promise showed up about halfway through, and we went for a Chinese/Grenadian meal a few blocks away afterwards. The menu was extensive, filled with mostly Schezwan dishes with a Grenadian twist, but it was all in “Chinglish”, a literal translation from Chinese into English, and made for very amusing reading. The food was first rate and delicious.  It was moderately late, around 8 or 9 PM, and I was a little concerned about getting a bus back. As I said they have no timetable, but usually start disappearing around this time. But I got lucky and got picked one up right as I left Promise at their dinghy on the quay. The bus was filled with 18-22 year old males, all friends of the driver or conductor, a little tanked up, and looking for excitement. We drove about ½ mile to the bus station, where they all piled out while the driver proceeded to slowly make his way through the station to the exit. When we got there, they all piled in again, but there was an ongoing altercation with another group of young males. Shouting ensued, and they all piled out again to confront the other group. While they were shouting and shoving at each other, the conductor quietly got back in, closed the door, and the driver made another round of the station. This time when we reached the same spot, most of the same group got in again, but with several females. Then we left the station, picked up and dropped off several more people, then pulled to the side of the road near a food stand, where the driver handed some money to the conductor, and he got out to buy some food. We left there and then went to Ace Hardware, which was closed, but the female security guard came out (along with a very large German Sheppard) and picked up the food from the van (delivery service? Wife? Daughter?) Then we proceeded on another mile or so, and I got off for the uneventful walk back to the marina and dinghy to the boat.

Saturday, Sept. 3 — They’ve been announcing the 700th Hash House Harriers run on the morning Cruisers VHF radio net and FB for the past couple of weeks, today’s the day, and I’ve decided to participate, along with hundreds of others. For those unfamiliar with the Hash House Harriers (HHH), they are a group of mostly runners who like to run cross country through fields, forests, streams, and here in Grenada, jungle. They’re world-wide, I first encountered them in Singapore and Thailand, and beer drinking is an integral part of their activities. For more info, Wikipedia has a pretty good writeup ( For a run, called a hash, a trail is marked with bits of paper, chalk, string, whatever makes sense for the environmental conditions. Then at the starting signal the runners take off with the objective of being the first to finish the trail, or at least not to be the last. It’s not really a race, although there is obviously a certain degree of competitiveness. To help keep that in check, the trail is often laid with forks, dead ends, circles and long unmarked gaps. That way the front runners have to slow down to find the right path, allowing the slower ones to catch up. There are no prizes or scoring, the reward at the end of the trail is knowing you did it, and of course beer, which is consumed in large quantities. Before we started, a call was put out for anyone with new shoes to step forward, or be pushed forward by the crowd. Several were, and they were required to remove one of their shoes and drink a beer from it.   For this historic 700th hash, three trails were laid — one for runners, which was longest and included some cliff climbing with ropes, one for walkers, which was a climb up a stream and steep hill through the jungle; and a “namby pamby” one that was shortest and stayed on roads. I don’t know how many people turned out, but it was a big crowd, too big to count, and even included the Prime Minister of Grenada. Dave and Coleen from Promise were there, and we hooked up together and went with the walking group, which was easily several hundred. We set off at a moderate pace which quickly came to a grinding halt as the first obstacle, a stream was encountered and people slowed down to pick their way across the rocks or find a path through the jungle on the banks. We were in the middle of the group, and finding the trail was not a problem as all we could see was a continuous line of people slowly shuffling their way up the hill. The trail was muddy, and became increasingly slippery as more and more people tore up the trail and the hill became steeper. About half way up the hill, on the steepest part I started to get that peculiar sensation where you feel like you’re back on the boat and the ground is moving in waves beneath your feet.  A little distracting as you’re trying to get purchase with your feet while clinging to rocks, branches, roots, anything you can find to help you. At the top of the hill, we came out onto a paved road, and had an easy downhill stroll for a mile or so back to the start, which was in an open field next to the beach. There was a beer tent, several barbecues selling BBQ chicken and chips, a band and a pretty good party ensued. When most of the participants had made it back, all the “virgins” i.e. first time hashers were rounded up, read a Loss of Virginity proclamation, and sprayed with beer as an initiation rite.

Sunday, Sept. 4 — Decided to walk over to Hog Island to check out the anchorage there, and the approach to the island through the reefs. I understood from the Cruiser’s Net there was a path from Secret Harbor to Hog Island through a bird sanctuary, and remembered we’d seen the entrance to the path on our previous walk from Prickly Bay to Secret Harbor. So I set off early morning on a beautiful day with my GPS to log the route and camera to take pictures, found the path and had a pleasant walk down a wide dirt road through mangroves over to the Hog Island bridge. The bridge is closed, it looks like it was the first phase of development for Hog Island and the project ran out of money and was halted. Someone cut the chain link fence for pedestrian access, so I go through and spend an hour walking around Hog Island on an overgrown road dotted with battered lot markers, seeing if there is a way down to Roger’s beach bar, but having no luck. So I go back across the bridge, meet two French speaking men and a woman walking the other way, greet them, and then a few minutes later as I was passing some bushes a guy wearing a knit mask and waving a machete jumps out of the bush and starts waving the machete very close to my head. At first I thought it was some sort of joke or prank, because he’s not saying anything, just waving the machete around my head. That causes me to crouch and duck, and he grabs onto my backpack and starts pulling on it, trying to get it off my back. At that point I suddenly realize I’m being mugged, and fight back. He slashed the right side backstrap from the backpack with the machete, leaving only the left side. He hasn’t hit me with the machete yet, but keeps slashing it within a inch or so of my head, driving me lower. So I dropped to the ground, circled my arms around his feet, and pulled them out from under him, hoping he’d drop the machete or at least make it more of a fair fight. But no luck, we roll around in the dirt and gravel a bit, but he’s still got a firm grip on the machete and is getting even closer to my head. He slashes the left strap, kicks his feet free, and runs off with my backpack. I consider chasing him, but then consider that he hasn’t really hurt me yet, and wonder how desperate he might get with the machete if I tackle him again, and decide to let it go. He was covered head to toe with mask, long sleeved cotton jersey, jeans and leather work boots, and never said a word during the attack. Identification, should he actually be caught, would be impossible.   So first, obviously I check to see what damage has been done, and find only shallow cuts and scrapes on my arms, bloody, but no where near life threatening. So I look around, and find the GPS, camera and water bottle that were in the mesh side pockets of the backpack & fell out during the struggle, and my sunglasses and visor. What he got away with was the backpack with my wallet containing 300-400$EC (75-100$US), all my credit cards, ATM cards and ID, a recently purchased cell phone worth 169$EC with 97$EC prepaid credit, and a Swiss army knife and Leatherman tool. I put a waypoint into the GPS to mark the time (11:45 AM) and location of the mugging.   I’m about a mile from any sort of civilization, and there’s no one around, so I start walking back to Secret Harbor, the first place I can think of where I can find a phone to call the police. The road branches, with one going west, and the other south to Secret Harbor. Shortly after turning onto the south road, I run into a Grenadian guy carrying a machete with two dogs trailing him. I ask if he’s seen anyone running down the road, explaining I’d just been mugged. He’s very sympathetic seeing my bloody arms, but hadn’t seen anyone, so I guess the guy took the other branch, or more likely ran into the mangroves to hide for a while.   When I got to the Secret Harbor Marina, they and the cruisers there were very helpful, calling the police, and getting one of the cruisers who was a doctor to treat my wounds. The police took about 1 ½ hours to arrive, but that was because they had fielded a team of 6 officers with two cars to look for the assailant on their way there, based on my telephoned description. They picked me up and we revisited the crime scene, stopping several times at houses along the road to ask if anyone had seen anything. I used my GPS to pinpoint the location, and they observed the broken branches and trampled grass where he’d been hiding, but there was nothing they could do with it, so we went back to their station to give a report. That took a long time because there were many more demands on their time when we got there, but eventually it got done, and they drove me back to the marina where I’d left the dinghy.

By this time it was around 5 PM, and I hadn’t had anything to eat all day, but plenty of water — I guess adrenaline kills the appetite, but makes you really thirsty. So I wolfed down some leftovers and a couple of beers, then called Alice to give her the news. By then it was dark, but I dove into the water to rinse off the sweat and dirt of the day, and was delighted to find bioluminescence. I had a sparkley cooling off swim, and then got on the Internet to start canceling credit cards and ordering new ones. I was lucky to have Alice in the US where I could get the replacements easily sent

Monday, Sept. 5 – Make an announcement about the mugging on the morning VHF Cruisers Net, then take the dinghy in to talk to Nick, the guy who's going to be building an arch for Ocean Star. He was going to call me on Tuesday to come pick him up and bring him to the boat for measurements, but of course now I don't have a phone, so we have to arrange a time. I borrowed his phone while I was there to call the police and give them my cell phone number, which I couldn't remember at the time giving the police report.  The police want me to meet them at the store where I bought the phone. So its back out to the boat in the dinghy, change clothes, lock up and dinghy back to catch a bus to St. Georges. When I walk in the Digicel store I find Dave & Coleen from Promise there to get a phone for Collen. I use their phone to call the police again and tell them I'm here. I'm disappointed to find out the relatively cheap 169$EC quad band phone I bought is no longer available, and the cheapest quad band is now 369$EC. Gets me mad about the mugging all over again. The police get there, and we find out from a technician that no one has used the phone yet, and there is 97$EC credit available yet. We decide to not cancel the number or credit, leaving it as bait for the robber, hoping he'll use it or sell it to someone and we'll be able to track it that way. Then back to the boat for more internet work, and some rest.

Tuesday, Sept. 6 – It rained all morning, so I didn't get Nick for the arch measurements, when it finally stops in the afternoon, he's busy so we postpone to the next day. Worked on the blog

Wednesday, Sept. 7 – Picked up Nick, first we go to another Beneteau 50 in the yard with a very nice arch, we take measurements from it's arch, and then to to Ocean Star. The measurements are close enough that we can basically copy that arch, but Nick has some ideas for improvements

Thursday, Sept. 8 – This bay is very fecund, not to many barnacles, but plenty of other marine growth. I'm having to scrub the bottom every week, and right now the anchor line and propeller look like Chia pets

Friday, Sept. 9 – meet Dave & Colleen from Promise for sundowners and dinner. Sundowners at a beach bar called Umbrellas. I'm constantly amazed at how they seem to know all the bar staff around town, and they know them. We decide to go for Sushi, since Alice isn't with us, and have a great meal with local fish and ingredients.

Sat/Sun Sept 10-11 – Working on boat projects, trying to track down a fresh water system leak and A/C system anomalies. Finally track the fresh water leak to a cracked nylon fitting on the fresh water supply to the watermaker backflush system. Looks like it was overtightened at some point, or something fell on it. I'll start the search for a replacement part, but I suspect I won't have any luck and it might be one more thing Alice has to bring back. Determine the A/C problem is with the generator, something not right there. It runs, but not at full power, and I can't run all three A/C units at the same time like I used to.

Mon Sept 12 – Pete from Enza Marine comes out and finds the problem is a blown capacitor, replaces it and I'm back in business. Good thing too, because it looks like it's going to rain all night.

Meanwhile Alice is back in Texas having a wonderful time visiting family & friends and wondering if her suitcase will be big enough to get all the boat parts and "stuff" she is buying back here to Grenada.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Prickly Bay - Grenada

Wednesday 17 August - Wednesday 31 August

Just a short update

After leaving Port Louis Marina, we head over to Prickly Bay, one of many bays on the south coast of Grenada where cruisers stay during hurricane season. It has been 7 years since a hurricane has hit Grenada, most go in north of here, and we are hoping this trend stays true this season. Plan B would be to run down to Trinidad / Tobago IF it looked like Grenada was in a hurricane path. Prickly Bay can be a little more rolly under certain weather conditions than some of the other more protected bays, but it is also a lot more convenient. It has 2 good bar / restaurants that both have live music. The Budget Marine store is right here, and just a short walk up the street from the restaurant De Big Fish is a bus stop to take you into town or anywhere along the route. Plus Spice Island Marina Boatyard is here and they have a welding shop that Steve talked to the owner to to get another quote on getting our arch made. So Prickly Bay will be our home for a little while. We have spent the first 2 weeks doing a few boat chores, meeting and mingling with the other boats, and a lot of swimming trying to stay cool. We did two dives one called ¼ wreck which was part of a ship being taken away on a barge for scrap, but the seas got rough & it fell over board. The second wreck the Veronica a full shell of a ship that sunk after the 2 owners could not agree on a buy out price. The reef next to this wreck is where we saw our first frog fish, and it was really neat watching this “guy” WALK on the reef. They have a cruisers net on the VHF radio each morning except Sundays and a Grenada Cruisers Facebook page to let everyone know of any activities going on. Some people are a lot more organized with their time as they seem to do quite a few of the activities. We have only done a couple with plans to do more. In the meantime we are enjoying this beautiful country with it's very friendly people. Steve has ordered the stainless to do the arch so that project should be done sometime during the month of September.
I will be flying back to Texas for a few weeks to visit family & friends while Steve hangs out on the boat and explores a little more of Grenada.

link to pictures ;

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pictures of Grenada Carnival & Carol's visit

SOME of the pictures Carol & I took during her visit and at Carnival , TOO many to post all of them but here is my best effort of cutting and sorting, not easy with a slow upload and they kept getting mixed up !!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Grenada - Carnival & Carol's visit

Friday 5 August – Wednesday 17 August

We are underway by 8:30 from Carriacou, with sunny skies winds & waves aft of the beam making for a great sail down to Grenada. Stop by the fuel station across from the marina and are docked by 2 at Port Louis Marina in St. George's. This is the off season for boats BUT it is also Carnival weekend, one of the busiest weekends in Grenada. Unlike most places that double prices for special occasions the marina is offering a 10 day special. So we are glad that we get a slip for Carnival which will overlap with my sisters visit. The marina has a good number of slips but only a few with 110 electrical outlets, most including ours are 220. We finally get to try out the transformer Steve put in before we left Kemah. After flipping the boat around to have the stern closer to the power box, and some rewiring by the marina staff on the plug and Steve on the transformer we have power and are able to have A/C . Since marinas are always hot with very little or no breeze this is a good thing, many of the boats are using generators to cool off but some are toughing it out in the heat. Once that is done we go for a swim in the marina pool to cool off but the water is about 85°, so not that refreshing but still feels good to get wet and we meet up with other boaters. During our travels south many of the boats we have met and seen have had Grenada has a final destination, if not for the whole hurricane season at least for a time. Some will continue on to Trinidad or Venezuela but many will be staying at the different marinas and bays along the south coast of Grenada so it is a large community of cruisers. They have a cruisers net on the VHF radio in the morning announcing different activities and events and have a Facebook page to check on things also.
We have arrived just in time for Carnival !!! and are told by several boating friends that many of the cruisers have signed up to take part in the Monday night Mas (abbreviation for Masquerade) one of 4 Carnival events. We are also reminded that like most islands stores are closed on Sundays and Monday & Tuesday will be holidays so stores will be closed on those days also. If we need anything it will need to be done on Saturday. Saturday morning I find out the marina laundry has decided to take that day off as well. Dave & Colleen join us as we make the rounds hitting the 3 different food markets to see what is available and picking up a few staples (diet coke, beer, wine, tonic water) stopping at the Ace hardware store and going across the street to the Carib beer plant to see if they have 4 more costumes for us to join the other cruisers in the Monday night Mas. Not to be, as they have sold out, disappointing at the time, but turns out to be a blessing in disguise. Sunday we go over to town via Promise's dinghy, knowing everything is closed as they are setting up for carnival but we get a good look at what is where in town and take a walk up to the old fort now used as police HQ with some great views of the bay. Sure miss being able to get back to the boat after a hot sweaty day and jumping into the cool waters of the bay, but since we are in the marina the warm pool water will have to do. At least there is a cold water shower to rinse off under that can lower the body heat and it is a good socializing area.
Monday Carnival starts early, I call Dave & Colleen at 5 AM to wake them so we can head out to the streets to watch the 1st event known as J'Ouvert (contraction of French for daybreak). All the participants are painted different colors, red, yellow, green & blue and the special ones get to be covered with old motor OIL. The trick we knew was to wear OLD clothes that can be ruined. Each group follows behind a truck playing extremely loud music (glad we had ear plugs) “dancing” & gyrating their way along the street painting each other and onlookers, encouraging bystanders to join in. What a blast !! And all VERY friendly !! Back on the boat, Bloody Mary' s before getting cleaned up for the afternoon event that starts at 3 PM (scheduled for 1 but remember island time) they amazingly have managed to clean up all garbage in the streets and along the side (paint is still everywhere but the rains will wash that away). Find a table at a restaurant along the route and have lunch and wait for the next parade. This parade is also full of loud music with different groups many with young kids in beautiful costumes. They follow along the same route only they are dancing along the street in the heat of the day ! We are sweating just watching and taking pictures. Back to the marina afterward, we go to the pool to cool off & hang out, should have taken naps but we didn't even though we knew there was time before the “8 PM” night parade would start. Had pizza at the marina restaurant while waiting for the 3rd parade. This event is sponsored by local businesses like Westerhall Rum, & Carib Beer the one our cruising friends joined. Trucks playing loud music followed by groups wearing T-Shirts from the sponsoring company along with simple costumes of funky hats, beads, and lighted sabers, etc. We really wanted to see our friends dancing in the streets in costume BUT by 11:30 PM and NO parade in sight from the marina, which is at the mid point, we could no longer stay awake and went back to the boat to go to sleep. About an hour later they did pass by the marina at which point many of the boaters turned off to return to their boats. They all said they had a blast, so maybe next year we will sign up early and take a nap between parades to be able to participate. Still one more parade to go Tuesday afternoon, supposed to start at 12:30 PM but we know that won't happen. My sister Carol is flying in and scheduled to arrive at 3 so I am hopeful that she might get to see the end of the last parade. Steve, Dave & Colleen go to watch the parade while I go to the airport to meet Carol, who's plane winds up being an hour late so we miss seeing the end of the parade. As I am waiting outside the airport I see people coming out with a lot of big luggage and the thought crosses my mind that I hope Carol's suitcase gets here. A few minutes later Carol comes out W/O her checked bag !!! Due to Carnival and students returning to university the local airline LIAT is overloaded and leaving a lot of bags behind in Trinidad. They tell Carol they have a special plane scheduled to just bring over the luggage the next morning and for her to call, never answering her question of will they deliver her luggage. Tuesday evening we have drinks and dinner at the marina restaurant which is very convenient and serves great pizza and good food. Wednesday, Carol has her carry- on so has a few things to get her through the day w/o much trouble. We tour the marina, walk over to the grocery store to get her a few things and spend most of the day visiting and calling the airline to check on her luggage. Steve has an alternator repairman come out and they are down below rebuilding the alternator. By late afternoon Carol decides to just take a taxi back to the airport to see if her bag is among the ones they say they are still sorting when she calls. It is among the 100 other suitcases when she gets there, and she is able to pick it up and clear through customs with out even opening her bag. Back at the boat she finds “space” to “unpack” in the aft cabin, much happier now with her belongings. Wednesday night a small group of 7 of us go across the street to a restaurant called Patrick’s. He has since passed but his tradition of serving a feast with 20+ different local dishes to share is still being done. Carol gets introduced to many of the different local dishes, some of which she would be happy to never see again, but enjoyed many of them. We all have a great time sampling the different dishes that they keep bringing to the table. You will not leave this restaurant hungry, just wish we knew all the different things we tasted so we could ask for it again. Next time we will ask them to write down a “menu” so we know what we ate. Thursday 5 of us go on an island tour with Michael our taxi / tour guide. Leaving the marina at 9 for a 10 hour tour, we cover a lot of ground but still only see a small part of this beautiful country. We head north along the west coast to the fishing town of Gouyave (Guave) known for it's Friday night fish festivals. Heading further north to Sauteurs and the historical site of Carib's Leap AKA Leapers hill. Heading south along the east coast, a stop by lake Antoine on the way to Belmont Estate Plantation where they harvest cocoa beans and make chocolate, and where we have lunch featuring more of Grenada's cuisine. Next stop is the River Antoine Rum Distillery, the oldest water propelled distillery in the Caribbean. Their product is not for sale outside of Grenada, and it is some pretty potent and harsh tasting rum. Carol, Steve & Dave all tried some figuring the alcohol would kill any germs we saw brewing in the vats on our tour. Continuing south along the coast pass the old airport to the town of Grenville, Grenada's 2nd largest town. Next we head west into the interior of the island through Grand Etang Forest Reserve, stopping at Grand Etang (= big lake, but not really that big but fills the crater of a volcano). Then a stop at Annandale Falls, where guys hang out to put on a “show” as they jump off over the fall. All along the trip Michael was telling us about Grenada and pointing out the different fruits, flowers, and trees, we end the day knowing and seeing a little more about Grenada as we drive back to the marina in St. George's. Carol gets some “normal” food as Steve makes pork & potatoes and Colleen brings a salad for dinner on board Ocean Star. Friday Carol & I go hang out at the beach down in Grand Anse (big bay), get back in time for a cocktail happy hour over on J dock at the marina. Saturday we take the dinghy over to town to go shopping at the market and to check out a couple of stores. Carol is a little surprised at how few specialty craft stores there are to chose from. Carol & Steve walk back up to the fort so she can see the view while I wait down the hill in the shade for them. Lunch in town then back to the boat where we go over to a little beach by the marina, not as nice as Grand Anse but closer and water is clean enough to swim in (unlike the harbor at the marina). Sunday Colleen & Dave bring their dinghy over to Ocean Star and we do a day sail up to Moliniere Point to go snorkeling at the sculpture marine park. Pick up a day mooring then take the dinghies over to snorkel. You have to swim around to find all the different sculptures in the different sand patches, all were pretty cool and fun to see underwater. Not a very colorful reef as it is still recovering from storm damage, but a good # of reef fish and it made for a nice little day sail. Back to the marina after 5 so get cleaned up and go to dinner, one of the boats was showing a movie at 7 but we did not want to rush dinner so took our time with some yummy pizza then went and caught the last 30 minutes of Avatar which for me was good enough. Monday after Steve meets with the arch guy again we take Carol out for another day sail, this time heading south. We were going to try to check out a couple of the anchorages on the south bays, but a storm moved in so we turned around and sailed around the storm heading back to the marina. We avoided the rain and are later treated to one of the most beautiful sunsets before getting a taxi to take us up to Morne Rouge (Red Hill) Bay for a nice farewell dinner at LaLuna. A beautiful place located at the end of one of the worst roads in Grenada. They could use it as part of their advertising “the trip here is part of the adventure” or “once here you may not be able to leave”. Tuesday hard to believe it is Carol's last day, we go back to the beach up in Grand Anse and enjoy swimming in the beautiful water. Back to the boat so Carol can get cleaned up and packed then drinks on Promise and a tour of Dave & Colleen's boat for Carol. We all go for a late lunch / early dinner before Carol meets Michael for the taxi ride back to the airport for her journey home. It was a wonderful visit with a wonderful sister, next year she can plan to come a few days earlier to see Carnival and hopefully we can do more sailing.  

A LOT of pictures to share BUT I am having trouble geting them posted to Picasa so I will add a new blog with just the link to pictures ASAP

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Tuesday 19 July – Thursday 4 August

We check out of Union Island at the airport since the town office was closed for painting. Just a short walk, with a stop at the veggie market on the way back. Short sail to Carriacou, an island that is part of the Grenada Nation, where we first anchor off the main town of Hillsborough to check into Grenada. Find a small dock on the side of the big ferry dock where we can tie the dinghy off and go check in. They have a great little tourist info office right across the street where I pick up guide books and maps. Don't spend a lot of time in town as we think we will be coming back over from Tyrrel Bay. As we are going past Sandy Island we see Promise, and go along side to say Hi then decide to pick up a mooring and spend the night there. Beautiful speck of an Island, just sand around a reef where the locals from Carriacou have replanted some trees after the island was almost washed away during a hurricane. Dave & Colleen come over for HH cocktails and we catch up on what we have all been doing since Bequia when we saw them last. Wednesday we make the short trip around the headland and enter Tyrrel Bay feeling good about being so close to Grenada and in a “safer” hurricane zone. We still plan to spend August in Grenada & September in Trinidad but for this time of the season we feel we are in a good spot. Once settled in we take the dinghy around the bay looking for Dreamcatcher with Judy & Gordon Evans -- former next door neighbors of Steve's from Kemah who have been living on their boat down here for 10 years. We finally find them after asking another boat as there is no name on their boat. We make plans to meet at 5 for cocktails on Ocean Star. They are a wealth of information about this Island as well as Grenada and the islands up the chain. We talk about the mangrove lagoon, located next to the bay, that they have ridden out a couple of hurricanes in and feel even better about just hanging out for a while. Knowing of a “safe” place to go just in case the weather should turn bad. We go in for pizza and a few bottles of wine at the Lazy Turtle, meeting the owner Jean Baptiste. Tyrrel Bay is a nice big bay / great anchorage but the surrounding community(s) are small as Judy & Gordon have told us. Thursday a late start to the day and finally get going to make it into the Slipway restaurant right before 2 when they close between lunch & dinner. Wonderful grilled hamburgers on freshly made buns. Walk down the beach toward the village to see what is there then back along the road to the shipyard & dock where we left the dinghy. As Judy & Gordon told us there is not a lot to this little area, a few restaurants, few grocery shops, laundromat, dive shops. But they also said that is the charm of the place, the friendly people with no tourist traps. As we walk around we can definitely get into the relaxed pace of the area. We had thought about going over to Petite Martinique (PM) since we had time before the regatta events started the following week. But the idea of just hanging out in this beautiful quiet bay was beginning to sound really good.   Friday we join Gordon & Judy for dinner at Lambi Queen meeting their good friend & owner Simon and a few other locals and cruisers. Steve & Gordon talk more about doing the 2 crew around the island regatta race on Ocean Star the following Friday. Saturday we break the kayaks out and go check out the lagoon , the outer lagoon being bigger and deeper can hold about 60 boats with deeper drafts and the inner lagoon can hold even more with boats under 5' draft, so definitely a good hurricane hole. Stop by to talk to Dave & Colleen on Promise making plans for dinner on Sunday night, Steve's Birthday. They along with Judy & Gordon join us at the Lazy Turtle to help cerebrate. The weather remains sunny & warm with scattered isolated showers. Great for reading & relaxing and swimming and opening & closing hatches & portholes, as well as running the generator when it gets too stuffy down below. Monday night the generator stalls out again and Steve sees there is water leaking under the generator. Gets it cleaned up but can not see where it is leaking from, starts it back up and she runs fine but still leaking, have A/C for the night and a project for Tuesday. Tuesday morning Steve runs me into shore & helps carry the laundry up to the laundromat before returning to the boat to tackle the generator problem. Only 3 washers & driers at the laundromat, I am able to start one load then get the other 2 in shortly after, still an all morning affair. Judy comes in with her loads as I am finishing up, wanting to get it out of the way before it gets busier with boats coming in for the regatta. As I am talking with Judy & Gordon waiting for Steve to come back in to pick me up, Gordon tells me about a race rule he forgot to tell us. Boats are not allowed to have anchors on the bow !!!!!  Well I don't know much about putting anchors on & off the boat, but it sounds like a major hassle to me. Steve takes the news much better, thinking it is the dumbest rule he has heard but also thinking it is not that hard of a job to “remove” the anchors. Right now he is more concerned with getting the generator fixed, and Gordon & Judy give us a name and # of a mechanic to call that can help Steve figure out what the problem is. Getting a hold of him and making an appointment for 4 that afternoon for him to come look at it. Drop off laundry on the boat and off to Slipway for lunch as Steve has tools all over the saloon. Uve the mechanic comes out to the boat and sees it is a leak in the exhaust pipe and advises us not to use it until it gets fixed to be sure we do not breathe in fumes. Tuesday night Steve turns the boat engine on to charge the batteries, and notices they are NOT charging. Quick deduction – something is wrong with the alternator !! Now we have no way to charge the batteries and if they run down we'll lose everything in the freezer and refrigerator !! I am thinking boat repair in exotic places is becoming our theme !! Wednesday morning Steve gets the generator part out and over to Dominique the local welder that Gordon had already put Steve in touch with to talk about the boat arch we want to do. He is pretty sure he will be able to make a new piece. Steve talks to Uve to ask about the alternator, but he does not work on them, and doesn't know anyone on the island that does. Stops by Promise and Dave has a spare one that is the same size and looks like it might fit. That afternoon the weather cleared for the cruisers pot luck dinner at the yacht club, where everyone brought a dish to share, & their own meat to grill. A great way to meet some of the other boaters in the bay, and exchange boat problem stories. There is a small entrance fee that is a donation to the Carriacou Children's Education Fund (CCEF), which is a big cause that the cruisers put on several events to raise money for. For over 10 years they have been raising money through various events and donations to help kids further their education. We had signed up to go on a group (14) island bus/taxi 3 hour tour Thursday morning. Since Steve wanted to work on the generator and alternator Colleen came with me. Lenox the guide did a great job telling us about his Island and all the little villages, all of which have fabulous views of the sea and surrounding islands. Steve gets the new exhaust piece from Dominique and installs it, then gets the generator running so we can charge the batteries. YEAH ! Then he runs various tests on the alternator & regulator and decides it's the alternator that has some shorted diodes. Tries Promise's spare, but it doesn't fit. Thursday night is the skippers meeting at Lambi Queen where Steve decides in spite of boat problems and removal of anchors he and Gordon will do the race. Friday morning we are up early, me to “pack” a little day bag Steve to work on anchors. Judy drops Gordon off as we are still sorting the anchors out. The spare we wind up putting down in the anchor well, by this time Dave from Promise is over to help and we decide the easiest way is to leave our dinghy attached to the anchor chain with the snubber and all the rode in the dinghy and I will go with Dave & Colleen in their dinghy to watch the start of the race. Cutting it close to the 8:35 start time, I get off the boat and Steve & Gordon join the other boats already circling getting sails out for the start of the race, luckily we were anchored just 100 yards from the start line. We are getting some great pictures of the boats from the dinghy and are close to the big tug boat they are using as the committee boat. They say we can come on board to take pictures, so we tie off to the wooden skiff next to the tug. Climb into that to get to the rope & wood ladder to climb up onto the tug. As I am stepping up & over the rail I step down into a puddle of water and my foot slides out from me as I fall landing on my side and on my camera. Broken camera and big black & blue mark on my thigh. But Dave & Colleen have their camera and we get some really great shots of the start of the race from on on top of the tug. Carefully climb back down off the tug to the dinghy and back to Promise. Dave works on downloading the pictures for awhile, then we go into shore for a few things. On our way back close to 11:30, we see the 1st boat already heading back in. Back to Promise to put ice away and get Dave's camera to go out to get more pictures of boats coming back in. Don't have to wait too long before we spot Ocean Star heading in, and she crosses the finish line shortly before noon. We meet them back where we left the dinghy and anchor and nimble Colleen climbs into our dinghy and hands Steve the snubber line and Ocean Star is re-anchored. All back in the cockpit we have a well deserved beer and a toast to the racers and picture takers. Get the spare anchor back in place and the extra anchor rode coiled up down in the anchor locker and drop Gordon back at his boat, meet Dave & Colleen at Lazy Turtle for a lunch before it is time to walk down to the yacht club for the auction. This is the big money raiser for the Children's scholarship fund. Afterward it is back down to Lazy Turtle for HH celebration and awaiting announcement of race results. They had 3 classes, NCR rated = racing boats – only 4, Fun – almost everyone else, and Catamaran of which there were 2. We were a new unknown boat so got the highest handicap, meaning we had to give time to ALL the other boats in our class. So even though Ocean Star was 6th or 7th to cross the finish line (all boats), she did not fare well in the ratings coming in 9th out of 14 (in class). According to Judy & Gordon there were 3-4 other boats that should have owed us time, but it was a FUN event. Steve & Gordon had a good time racing Ocean Star a cruising boat & a home that does not point up into the wind well, but is a dream to sail and live on. Between the hot sun and celebration we were off to a late start on Saturday. Convinced Colleen & Dave to walk over to Paradise Beach with us to have lunch. A beautiful beach in L'Esterre Bay overlooking Sandy Island. We have lunch at Off the Hook, where we meet and talk with Curtis the owner. Stopping at the different fruit stands along the way back to Tyrrel Bay where Colleen gets to practice her jogging as she runs in flip flops back ½ mile to one of the stands where Dave THOUGHT he left his wallet. Back to the boats for a late afternoon swim to cool down. Sunday the action is over in Hillsborough, for the open work boat races. All wooden sloops of varying sizes that are lined up on the beach waiting to launch when their class is called. What a sight this was, boats & crew and onlookers everywhere. Vendors set up, music playing, Festival time in Carriacou !! A GREAT fun day !! Parties are going on into the night but we catch a “bus” back over to Tyrrel Bay while they are still running just before dark. We are in Promise's dinghy and head over to Slipway restaurant to end a perfect day with a perfect meal and a couple of bottles of wine. Monday is a rainy day perfect for sleeping in and working on the blog. Monday night final awards presentation at Slipway restaurant for the cruising boats. OMG what great prizes they give out !!! All the sponsors, Doyle Canvas, Mt. Gay Rum, Budget Marine, Island Water World , local businesses all contribute to some really great prizes. We even won a canvas tote, with a 5th of Mt. Gay Rum, T-shirt & few other little items. The boats that raced all 3 days and came in 1-3 really raked in the goodies. Tuesday along with Colleen & Dave get a bus over to Hillsborough to go get sim cards for our phones, now we have working phone #'s again. Nice lunch in town and I even find some DIET Coke which made my day as I had my last one and thought I was going to have to buy Coke Light NOT as good. Get the bus back to Tyrrel Bay. FYI when I say bus I mean 14-16 passenger vans that they use as buses and also taxis big difference being the price you pay and where you get on & off, just wanted to clarify that this is the standard down in the islands we are NOT getting on a Metro Bus when I say we take the bus. Back in Tyrrel can't go by the fruit stand w/o stopping & picking up something good. In for a swim around the boats and Steve works at cleaning the bottom of the boat again, it is amazing in this beautiful clear water how quickly stuff starts to grow on the bottom of the boat. Wednesday night Gordon & Judy join Dave & Colleen on Ocean Star for cocktails as they give us tips on Grenada. Thursday Steve rents a tank to finish cleaning the bottom of the boat. We have enjoyed our stay of over 2 weeks, one of our longest where we stayed because we wanted to not because we were waiting on weather or mail. Friday we will be heading down to Grenada to Port Louis Marina in St. George's for CARNIVAL and then my sisters visit.

link to pictures ;

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Monday 4 July – Monday 18 July

By 6:30 before the winds go over 20 knots we are off the mooring and under way leaving St. Lucia. Making a note that when we come back this way NOT to use the 1st mooring and get one on the other side of the bay where hopefully the wind gusts won't be so violent. We have a reef in each sail and only 1-2 ft. seas as we leave the bay with protection from the island. Once we clear land the wind and waves pick up, a few rain clouds & showers around but no rain on us, thankful for the clouds but glad no rain since we have no shade or rain protection with the bimini down. Passing the northwest end of St. Vincent seeing nothing but green, green and more green in the short steep hills. This end of the island is very unpopulated. In the lee of the island all wind is lost so we roll up the sails and motor on by. The Southwest end of the island is very populated with the capital and big city of Kingston, whose customs & immigration offices are not really set up to deal with private boats (another reason not to stop). We had heard of some boats being boarded with armed robberies, so we are not stopping at St. Vincent. As we pass the island we get the wind back, but for a short time it is against the tide and so creates some rough seas, so we leave 2 reefs in the genoa and 1 in the main. As we get further from land the seas calm down becoming 5-7 foot swells on the aft beam, and we shake out the reefs making for a nice sail into Bequia. By 2 we are entering Admiralty Bay, another huge bay with several anchorages, we head over to the one on the north side close to the canvas shops. As we are walking off the dinghy dock carrying the bimini, a guy walking by asks us if we are going to the canvas shop, and informs us they are closed. He tells us everything is closed as it is Carnival celebration and everyone is off island over on St. Vincent in Kingston. Our guide book says this holiday is the 2nd Monday & Tuesday in July, but we learn it is the 1st. For some reason Customs & immigration are open so we get checked in and he tells us that some places might open back up on Tuesday. We just take a quick walk around since we are carrying the bimini, and the place looks pretty deserted and closed up. Back to the boat for the afternoon. Tuesday we take the bimini back in to see if by chance the canvas shops have opened, but no such luck. We find that out before we even get there as all the locals are very happy to tell us that everything is closed. Back to the boat again, and since it is not a holiday back in the states Steve is able to call the Spectra water maker company and talk to a guy about what our problem with the water maker could be. Of course working on the water maker means taking a lot of stuff out of the forpeak storage area (AKA the garage). Steve does a couple of tests like the spectra rep told him to do, and finds it was a 30 amp fuse that burned out, taking the fuse holder with it. Not sure why it burned out as water maker only uses 20 amps so fuse is adequate, but by luck we have a spare fuse holder and fuse that we purchased in St. Martin to fix the burned out one on the generator, so Steve splices the new fuse is in and the water maker is working again. Since everything is out of the forpeak, Steve wants to fix a small leak in the water maker high pressure pump discharge. This is when the job gets into trouble, as it turns into an all day affair, making the leak worse before finally getting it fixed. We are living the cliche of cruising is boat repair in exotic places, Steve in no mood to cook, so we go over to L'Auberge Restaurant for a wonderful dinner. Wednesday morning YEAH things are open BOO it's raining. Break in the rain, into the canvas shop just getting a little wet on the walk from the dinghy dock. Little down pour while we are there then another break so chance to walk into town. What a difference with shops open and people in the streets everybody going about daily routines. Stop by gift shop for post cards, while Steve goes across the street to the the Rasta Fruit & Veg Market and winds up with a few items. Next stop tourist office to get info on Bequia and the rest of the Grenadine Islands, as we are crossing the street to the post office we run into Dave from Promise. He is coming in to clear in since they just arrived late Tuesday. Visit for a few minutes and will meet up later or the next day to catch up again. Rain is still threatening and Steve is carrying 2 papayas, a pineapple, several avocados and a full backpack of other assorted items so we decide to go back to the boat to unload just in time for the next shower. Weather prediction says it is supposed to clear in the afternoon, but we spend the rest of the day opening and closing the hatches between showers. Get the freezer defrosted and read up on the places we want go to in the Grenadines. Thursday is a beautiful morning with blue skies so we decide to take advantage of the good weather. Go in and 1st walk up to an old fort, not really a fort anymore but a great overlook of the bay. Back into town as we have really not had a good chance to see it. Again the streets a busy with activity, people coming and going. Walking down the south side of the harbor seeing some different shops and restaurants on the walkway along the shoreline. At the end a 1950's plantation resort recently closed & abandoned, what a shame it is really prime real estate. We find our way to the road through the property and thinking it is a short walk to the beach, around the corner if by water, head out walking. Well we have to go up hill quite a bit before we come to a “road” leading down to the beach. Overall, probably a mile uphill/downhill walk to go a quarter mile along the beach. It is a beautiful beach and Jacks Bar & Restaurant is just opening so we have a cool beverage and relax before lunch, glad to be undercover for the 1st afternoon thunderstorm. Not feeling like repeating the walk, we call for a water taxi to bring us back to town :). Stop by the Frangipani restaurant to make reservations for dinner, then the grocery store then back to the boat for a few more afternoon showers. Rain stops before we go in for dinner but just as we reach the dinghy dock in front of the restaurant another downpour, I was glad I had on an old rain coat but Steve got soaked. We were meeting Dave & Colleen from Promise who also thought to wear rain gear. Have a fair BBQ & buffet dinner and a good time visiting with Colleen & Dave again. Friday morning the weather stays clear for our morning dive, seeing lots of fish and coral along the wall just outside the harbour. Able to have lunch in the cockpit and read before the afternoon thunderstorm comes rolling in. When it's not raining we have a great breeze to keep the boat cool, if we have to close up for long it gets humid & stuffy but most of the time just as we get the windows closed the rain stops and we can open back up again. Getting real tired of doing that though, hope the weather prediction for a week of drier weather holds true. Saturday starts cloudy and rainy but clears up and turns out to be a beautiful afternoon. We go into town to pick up a few things and just get caught in one shower. They are having a Fisherman's Festival, so have lots of people hanging out in the park by the docks with music and plenty of fish to buy for anyone who wants some. Stop by Promise to talk with Colleen & Dave for a while and meet later at Mac's Pizzeria for dinner along with Jimmy from ¾ Time who ran into some bad weather coming down from St. Lucia and LOST (bottom of the ocean) his mast !! What a story that is, just very grateful it is his story and not ours ! Steve had checked with the Bequia marina about coming in to get fuel the next morning so we surprised to find it closed when we got there Sunday morning at 9. We finally found someone who called someone who told the guy to go wake the guys up on the boat in the marina, which Steve had tried to do. Didn't need much, just wanted to top off from using the generator so much this last week with all the rain. He was quite pleasant as he woke up climbing off the boat to open the fuel station. Another guy and the girl who had told Steve they would be open also get off the boat to help. We joked about having her days mixed up since they are usually closed on Sundays, we can relate to that. Topped off with fuel, and they had both quoted Steve a price but seems the owner just called to inform that the price had gone up from $12.75 EC to $15 EC, we wound up paying $14 EC and were heading out of the bay by 10. A wonderful sail all the way to Canouan, 1-2 ft seas 15 knot winds and clear sunny skies, a beautiful day to be on the water. We are one of 5 boats anchored in Charlestown Bay on the island of Canouan. A Moorings charter marina is here but this one is closed for the season and the place is empty. Seems most boats are passing this island up, as we walk around part of the island, between being Sunday & off season things are real quiet. It is a lovely little island with a beautiful anchorage, empty with no charter boats here, but a little rolly. Take the dinghy over to a near by reef to snorkel, then relax & read in the cockpit as the sun sets. Monday underway by 10 heading to the Tobago Cays, 5 little uninhabited islands partially surrounded by Horseshoe Reef, and part of the national park. We have a nice sail the short distance and are anchored by 11:30 in one of the most magnificent spots we have seen. After lunch we go to snorkel with the turtles off Baradel Cay, and are surprised at how many there are to see & swim with. Back at the boat Steve gets surrounded by fish coming to see what he is scraping off the bottom as he cleans the off the marine growth on the hull. Another beautiful sunset in another beautiful place. Tuesday we are awoken by rain, thought the rain was past us for a few days, but we have a few showers in the area and the day remains cloudy. We go over to a couple of the islands and walk the beaches and trails, even though it is still overcast we get some great views overlooking the Cays and other islands. Tuesday night we go to run the generator to charge the batteries and it stalls out and then won't start. Steve thinks right away that it sounds like no fuel OR BAD fuel = water in the fuel. Right away he is thinking of the fuel we got in Bequia, after a lot of rain and getting the guy out of bed they did not check or filter off any water they took into their tanks. Luckily we kept the two fuel tanks separated so only the generator supply needed to be bled and cleaned out. Two hours later job done, Steve not very happy about getting bad fuel from the place that was supposed to have the best. Another lesson learned, when getting fuel after rain check it first !! Wednesday we snorkel along the reef and see all kinds of marine life. Thursday Steve goes snorkeling again but I decide to stay dry for a day. This is just one of those places you can just hang out at and enjoy all the beauty around you. Friday, a leisurely morning before heading over to Mayreau. With just the genoa sail out we still make the trip in 30 minutes. First stopping in Salt Whistle bay, go ashore to walk the beach and see the resort is closed for the season. Walk to the top of hill to see an old quaint catholic church with a great view of the Tobago Cays, and another bay that we decide looks less rolly. Back down the hill & to the boat have lunch on board before pulling up anchor and heading over to Saline Bay. This bay is a little closer to the village up on the hill so we thought we might go walk around. But just after we anchor we keep hearing the fresh water pump going and neither of us is using any water. We can hear water trickling, and we find it coming from the engine compartment, which should have nothing to do with the fresh water pump. We can see that the engine coolant is leaking / overflowing ???? So we shut the fresh water off and it stops ?? Steve has to think about this for a minute, and comes to the conclusion that the heat exchange coil in the hot water tank has a leak and it is back flowing into the engine causing the coolant to overflow. NOT good news !! After a little more thinking, Steve says he can cut the fresh water lines to & from the water heater to the engine & plug them. The engine does not need them to run, the line is just to make hot water when the engine is running and we can run the generator to make hot water. So he cuts them and shoves in some wooden through hull plugs we have for emergency repairs, and finds the water/coolant leaking right through the plugs! They're so dry, the water is just pouring through them like a sponge. Steve hopes the wood will eventually swell and seal off, but necessity being the mother of invention, he gets some plastic wrap from the kitchen, pulls out the plugs, wraps that around them and shoves them back. So we have a temporary fix, most likely we will have to get a new water heater down in Grenada. Did I already mention the saying cruising = boat repair in exotic places :). Saturday Union Island and Internet connection, this is one of the longest stretches we have gone w/o internet. YES we are spoiled, and consider ourselves very lucky to be able to keep in touch with family & friends, and have this ability to connect and catch up on news, pay bills, etc. etc. So our first few hours in this new tropical paradise is spent on our computers. Later we go into town and walk around seeing what is where, they have a great local outdoor fruit & veg market and a couple of grocery stores but not much in them. Things are hard to find here in the Grenadines, not that we need much, it is just part of our routine to check out what is available where. They have several restaurants so we walk around to check them out making the wrong choice with The Clifton Beach restaurant and have a mediocre meal. Tuesday we wake to rain and a cloudy overcast day. Lazy morning but Steve soon finds a project of taking the genoa winch apart to clean. This is a big winch and has several 100 pieces, Steve has done this maintenance chore before so knows how to take it apart & put it back but it takes all afternoon, one down 3 more to go 2 smaller & easier. Monday is a beautiful day just a little morning sun shower, Steve finishes the cleaning of the winches. Lunch on board then into town to pick up fresh fruits & veggies and diet cokes. Back to the boat to swim and snorkel by the reef we are anchored near. Tuesday checking out of the Grenadines to head over to Carriacou an Island that is part of Grenada.