Archive for November, 2010

Things We Do In Grenada

November 22, 2010

BOAT WORK

You are probably tired of hearing about it, but we spend a lot of time working on the boat.   The big project has been painting the main house.  I’m happy to say that the top is painted and we even got some Cetol on the teak.  The sides of the house are primed and need to be sanded before the color coat can go on. 

But enough of that.  The rest of this update will be about some of the things we do for fun.

TRIPS TO TOWN

Special arrangements have been made for a shopping bus to pick us up at Secret Harbor (formerly Martin’s) Marina twice a week and take us to a bunch of places.  It covers most of our needs, but sometimes we have to go places it doesn’t go, like downtown St. George.

We have to dinghy to the next bay to catch a bus into town.  In past updates I’ve mentioned that we often plan these trips for Tuesday or Thursday so we can get a roti at Nimrods.

The bus picks us up by Nimrods and goes all the way downtown for $2.50 EC (Eastern Caribbean dollars, just under $1 US).  The buses are small vans with seats for 18.  I’ve been on a bus with 22 people.

On the bus with 17 of your closest friends

It’s an easy walk from the bus terminal to many places, but the ones we visit most often are the produce market and the fish market.  We usually go to the produce market first.  It covers an entire block.  There is a building with spice stands and some souvenier handicrafts, but most of the area is outdoor stands.  If it is in season on Grenada, you can usually find it at the market.

The produce market is in the middle of St. George

Much of the market is a maze of little booths

The fish market is where the local fishermen bring their catch.  It is conveniently located on the water and there is a tackle shop across the street.  You look over the fish and select what you want.  They weigh the fish – price is $7.50 EC per pound. You pay the vendor and for an extra $5 EC you can get the fish cleaned.

Jackie shops for fish

$5 EC gets your fish cleaned

Then it’s back to the bus terminal.  The driver’s get paid based on how many fares they collect so they seldom leave the terminal with empty seats.  Waiting for the bus to fill is part of the experience.  Some drivers pilot the buses with wild abandon, others are more sedate.  I liken it to a cheap amusement park ride.

The bus station - buses line up by route number so you can find the one you want

 

Riders wait for a bus to fill

FOLLOW THE MONEY

One of the challenges here has been learning the local money. Most places will accept US dollars, but most prices are posted in EC (Eastern Caribbean) dollars.  The basics are easy, dollars and cents.  One US dollar equals 2.70 EC  dollars.   Coins range from one cent to one dollar nd include a two cent piece.  The EC paper money starts at $5 and goes up.  Older coins have different shapes, but the new coins are all silver in color and have the same picture on the front.  Confusion comes in because many of the coins look like others.  For example, the penny and dime are almost identical in size.  Without my reading glasses I have a tough time counting change.  Cashiers must be used to this because if I stumble very long they just reach in my hand and pick out the right coins.

Newer EC coins (top row) can be confusing

A lot of cash drawers do not have enough slots for all the denominations of coins so one cent and two cent pieces often share the same one. 

HANGING OUT, HAVING FUN

Okay, so it’s not all work. We are retired after all, and need to keep our spirits up.  There are a few marinas and a some restaurants in the area that host various events to get us to come in and spend money.  Clarks Court Bay Marina probably does the best job hosting events and publicising them.  They are a fairly typical cruisers bar with burgees and boat cards displayed.

Clarks Court Marina bar. Typical criser bar with burgees, boat cards, and big screen TV

Compass Rose's boat card "docked" next to another Dickerson 41, Don and D's Southern Cross

They are a relatively short dinghy ride away and the protected waters can be navigated in the dark.  There is just one point where we have to go between some shallows.  One of the locals put a pole in the water to mark the spot and a friend and I put some reflective tape on it to make it easier to find it in the dark. 

Yes, the post can be hard to see in real life, too

 I also put it in as a waypoint on our old handheld GPS.  Before Jackie was back I would navigate and my friend Dave would drive the dink. Now Jackie reads out our track and the bearing to the pole and I adjust the course as needed.  Dave leads or follows depending on how brave he’s feeling – I think there is a correlation to Carib consumption and the phase of the moon.

It gets really dark making the passage at night

You never know who might be out in the dark

We usually go to Clarks Court on Wednesday night for burgers, but we have gone for some other events.  One was afternoon dominoes.  About a dozen cruisers participated while others watched a Formula 1 car race on the big screen.

Mexican Train Dominoes - a cruiser tradition

Another time we went over for a potluck dinner.  Once dinner is over and a few Caribs have been consumed the Kareoke gets turned on.  The better singers even get people up to dance.

Kareoke singer complete with chorus line

A little closer to home is Roger’s Beach Bar.  Think of a real island tiki bar.  Roger is a local and runs it along with a woman (his mother?) who cooks simple dinners on Sunday afternoons. 

Roger hard at work behind the bar

The patrons are a mix of cruisers and locals.  The bar is on Hog Island overlooking one of the more popular anchorages.  It used to be the only access was by water, but some years ago a developer put a bridge across to the island.  Then before he could break ground the local government stopped him.  I don’t know what the problem was, but it would be a shame to see a hotel on the island.  The bridge is blocked of, so you can’t drive on the island. 

Dinks lined up at Rogers Beach Bar

We get over there some Sunday afternoons for listen to the band, grab a little food, have a cold beer, and hang with the other cruisers.

Just your typical tropical tiki bar

Somtimes there is live music

Getting Around

The thing about living on a boat at anchor is that you just can’t walk out the front door or jump in your car and head down the street.   We have had rare occassions where we could swim to shore or to another boat, but for the most part that is impractical.  We  typically climb into to the dinghy and use it like a car.  Up until recently I have done all the dinghy driving, but Jackie finally decided that she needed a little independence so she has started driving it on her own.  She does quite well.

Jackie piloting the dink

We also have a transportation option that most people don’t – a kayak.  It’s a nice way to get a little exercise while getting around the bay. 

Jackie doing a little kayak cruising

Next post:  A Grenada Thanksgiving

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Changes In Latitude

November 1, 2010

We posted an update a few days ago celebrating passing the one year cruising mark, but a few things happened before and after the anniversary.

Jackie’s Back

 The first big news is that Jackie is back in Grenada.  She left for the States almost three months ago to have minor surgery on her shoulder.  The surgery went well, but the rehab took a while.   Finally it got close to time for me to return to the States for my annual doctor visits, so I flew back.

Reefer Madness

Stuff breaks on cruising boats to the point that cruising is sometimes referred to as repairing your boat in exotic locations.  We have spared you the gory details of most of the repairs so far and there have been plenty.  The most recent was the loss of refrigerant in our refrigerator (known to cruisers as the reefer).  Before I flew back to the states, ours began to run longer and longer and finally got to the point where it never shut off.  I borrowed a sniffer from another cruiser and found a leak where a filter was installed in the line.

This would not be a big deal except that our unit uses R-12 refrigerant, which is nearly impossible to get.  Luckily the friend with the sniffer had a can of R-12 to spare.  I don’t have the tools needed to repair the line and replace the coolant, so I called in a repair man.  It was nice to have cold food and beer again.

Compass Reef

Before I could go back to the states I had to move Compass Rose into the local marina.  That required me to clean all the growth off the anchor chain so it wouldn’t rot in the anchor locker.  That took almost two hours of scraping, prying, and chipping.  There is still a lot of growth on the bottom of the boat.

Rock Tour

My trip to the States was to be quick.  I would arrive in Detroit on Saturday night and return to Grenada the following Saturday.  During that time Jackie and I would attend a wedding in Detroit, visit my family near Cleveland, visit friends in Eastport, MD, and visit more friends and go to doctor’s appointments in Virginia.  Four states in one week – sounds like a rock tour.

Somehow everything got done and we went from this…

Washington, DC

…….to this……

Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada

More Reefer Madness

We got back to the boat oly to find that the reefer had sprung a new leak.  It didn’t take much discussion for us to decide to replace the reefer with a new unit.  It was expensive, but we really need reliable refrigeration.

Changes in Attitude

It didn’t take to long for Jackie to fall back into the cruising lifestyle.  I’m sure it helped that we went to a little beach bar.

The Aquarium beach bar and restaurant.

We played in the ocean.

Trudie and Jackie playin in the water

Or just hung out.

Eric, Dave, and Jim discuss something animated

One Year

As mentioned in our previous post, on Oct. 28 we passed our one year anniversary of the beginning of the cruise.  It has been an extraordinary experience. There have been challenges, but for the most part it has been easy and relaxing.

Then along came Tomas.

Tomas?  No Mas

Tomas started as a low in the Atlantic east and al little south of Grenada.  Typically the lows and tropical storms form near the latitude of Grenada, but track WNW passing well north of here.  Tomas was different.  He formed at a more southerly latitude.   The computer models looked like someone fired a shotgun at Grenada with some tracks going north and some south of the island.

Tomas becomes a tropical storm

As you can imagine Tomas’s approach and the uncertainty of his track caused quite a stir.  We decided to move Compass Rose back into the marina mostly to protect her from other boats tat might come loose and run into her.  Quite a few boats moved into the marina and we spent the day preparing for the storm.

Partway through storm preparation

We fnished preparing for the storm.  All we could do was wait and check weather forecasts.  Tomas continud to develop, but his course began to look lik it migt go north of us, thus sparing us the worst part of the storm.

Tomas continues to grow

Luck was with us. Tomas went well north of us.  We never saw more than about 25 knots of wind and very little rain.  All in all it was an interesting exercise.  We now have a lot of ideas about how to prep for a major storm.  Let’s hope we never have to do it again.