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 ;