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A Caribbean Interlude

January 21, 2017

Posted from Leland, NC

In our last post I promised to post more often – so far, so good.

RETURN TO GRENADA

The last post left us at our house in NC and we are back in NC again, getting ready for another adventure.  In between these posts we spent some time in Grenada on our boat, Compass Rose (a.k.a., “Little Rosie“).

 

Compass Rose (directly up from the black boat) moored in Mt. Hartman Bay

Compass Rose (directly up from the black boat) moored in Mt. Hartman Bay

We arrived in mid-October and found Rosie to be in generally good shape. There are always issues, however, and this visit was no exception.  The most obvious was that our batteries were a bit low.  There should be little draw on the batteries while we are gone, so we stow our big solar panels below leaving only a 50 watt panel to keep the batteries topped up.  We hooked up the big panels and because we had a lot of rain and overcast skies, we gave them a week or so to bring the batteries up, which they did.

The other issue – a leak in the fuel return line – wasn’t immediately obvious.  Luckily I spotted it before we filled the bilge with diesel.  The fix was easy, but finding the appropriate fitting was a bit of a challenge.  Eventually I tracked one down and solved the problem.

There are a number of things that we do when we return to the boat.  One of the first is to clean the marine growth off the propeller so it is ready in case we have to move the boat.

Somewhere in the middle of this reef is our prop

Somewhere in the middle of this reef is our prop

 

This cowfish swam by to inspect my work

This cowfish swam by to inspect my work

We had talked about sailing up to the Grenadines like we did at the beginning of 2016, but by the time we had the repair done it was getting into November.  Soon the Christmas winds would start and not wanting to risk a rough trip back to Grenada to make our January flight, we decided to just enjoy the holidays in Grenada.

So what do we do in Grenada?  Some of the stuff is what you do anywhere like laundry and shopping.  The marina in our bay has laundry facilities where we can pay to have the wash done, but Jackie found that you need to have a little intervention until the washers are running correctly.  After that the ladies do a great job.

Another task is shopping.  Twice each week a shopping buses leave our bay.  One goes directly to the mall where there is an IGA and the other goes to Ace Hardware and then a marine chandlery before going to IGA.  There are also a couple more specialized shopping trips we can take advantage of each week.

Who likes to take out the trash? We can drop it at the marina for a small fee, but on Sunday mornings Raymond motors through the anchorages and collects trash.  Pickup at the boat costs un an extra Caribbean dollar – less than 40 cents more.

Trash collection Caribbean style

Trash collection Caribbean style

For fun there are regularly scheduled domino games, trivia sessions and bingo nights, volleyball games, afternoon chess, and more.

Jackie enjoys swimming in the refurbished pool at the marina, taking yoga and tai chi, and she joined a gym.  She also practices the ukulele. I usually spend the time she is off the boat doing boat repairs or practicing the saxophone.

We take occasional hikes around the bay and in the rainforest.

 

Banana tree

Banana tree

 

Butterfly

Butterfly

 

I love the signs of nature we see on the trails

We see some most interesting signs in the islands – this one along a mountain road

 

yellow bird

Caribbean flycatcher

 

MUSIC

There is a lot of music to enjoy on the island, including live entertainment each week at Secret Harbour, our local marina, Prickley Bay Marina, and Nimrod’s Rum Shop; the occasional Sunday afternoon performance at Roger’s Barefoot Beach Bar on Hog Island, and the Full Moon Party at Benji Bay, all of which we can get to by walking or dinghy.

Roger’s is a special place because both cruisers and locals relax and mix on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  A friend of mine, Jim Beaudry, sent me an email telling me about a Youtube video taken on New Year’s Day at Rogers that he saw.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20HBXAZSv1g Watch closely and you will see:

7:20 Me standing in the background (grey plaid shirt and red hat) and Jackie (red beach dress and white hat) sitting on the other side of the picnic table facing the camera.

11:02  Jackie walks in front of camera.

13:10 Jackie at the bbq.

Note that Stan and Cora of Rough Enough are the two people he talks to on stage.

In addition there are a couple special events.  The first is special to me because I participated.  It’s the weekly Secret Harbour open mike/jam session organized by Gary – a retired professional tenor sax player – and Venessa (guitar and vocals) on Neptune II.  Participants play sets of three songs and anyone can join in.

It took me a couple weeks to get my courage up, but I finally brought the sax one night.  The musicians are usually cruisers – some quite good. but on my first night Gylfi (professional guitar player) and Rough Enough (Stan and Cora, keyboard and tenor sax from the Roger’s video) also showed up.  These are people we go to hear when we want to be entertained.  I went from nervous to intimidated.

I got up and struggled through Moondance with Stan backing me on keyboards.  He had a rough start getting the right key because my alto sax is Eb and he is used to playing with Cora’s Bb tenor.  They had kind words and pointers after the session and I was thankful for their help.

My first Secret Harbour jam session

My first Secret Harbour jam session.  Stan on keyboard and Norman on guitar

I returned the next week and each week thereafter with a set of easier songs and had a lot of fun.  It also helped that I got Gary to give me a few lessons. The last week we were there Gary and Venessa were out sailing so I got to organize the event.

My last jam of the season playing with Karin, Tom, and Danny

My last jam of the season playing with Karin, Tom, and Danny

The music event that everyone finds special is the dinghy concert.  We attended the first was dinghy concert in January 2011 and go to every one we can.  We went to the 31st. concert in January featuring Lion Paw & D-Unit.  It’s a bit of a dinghy ride to the concert, the venue in Le Phare Bleu Bay is rolly and it seriously rained to the point that they had to move the keyboards farther under shelter.  But the band was good and everyone had a great time.

31st dinghy concert with Lion Paw & D-Unit

31st dinghy concert with Lion Paw & D-Unit

Here is a link to a Youtube video of one of the songs they did:  Youtube video of the dinghy concert

It’s hard to spot us in the video, but at 2:06 look just to the left and up from the peak of the red tent and you will see Jackie (pink top, white hat).  Unfortunatley there is a white thing that looks like it is pointing to her face.  Look left and you will see me (blue shirt and red hat).

HOLIDAYS

You already know how we spent New Year’s Day.

We took a day off and wen to Grand Anse beach

We spent Christmas Eve day at Grand Anse beach

Vanessa on Neptune II went to great lengths and was in daily contact with Le Phare Bleu to make arrangements for nearly forty cruisers to have Christmas dinner.  When we arrived they explained that their chef had quit a week before and they could not serve the special fixed price menus they promised, but instead had their usual barbecue buffet.  Maybe if they had bothered to tell us in advance we could have worked something out, but everyone was pretty upset.  Vanessa contacted True Blue resort and they agreed to take us and we had a great time.  Kudos to Vanessa for all her efforts and to George our taxi driver who took time our of his Christmas day to make the long extra trip needed accommodate the change of venue.

Christmas Day at True Blue Resort

Christmas Day at True Blue Resort

New Year’s Eve had us back at True Blue – it had been in the plan before Christmas.  And as already noted, New Year’s Day had us at Roger’s Beach Bar.

We also had a dinghy drift on the night of the full moon in January.  A group of cruisers tied their dinghies together and drifted around Mt. Hartman Bay in the dark enjoying a pleasant moonlit evening.

Full moon dinghy drift

Full moon dinghy drift

IN MOURNE-ING

We have travel plans starting at the end of January, so we headed back to NC in mid-January.  We have found that it is very hard to spend the last night on the boat because there is so much stuff that gets stowed below, so we usually book a hotel room for the last night.  This year we booked a room at The Gem hotel on Mourne Rouge beach (a.k.a. BBC Beach).  This year we invited a lot of friends to join us on the beach and it was a great time.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We have our last dinner in Grenada at the renowned La Plywood bar

 

Look at her smile and you know there is no caption needed.

Look at her smile – no other caption needed.

Monday we fly to NC and get a good night’s sleep.  Tuesday morning we wake up to 45 degrees and an overcast sky………

………but we won’t be here long.

 

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Time Flies By……

December 3, 2016

Posted from Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada

I’m really going to make an effort to keep the blog up to date. No, I really am.  Really!  (sounds like another campaign promise, doesn’t it?)

(Dec. 31, 2016 I added a link farther down the page to a short youtube video of us sailing off Carriacou last spring)

We have been back on Compass Rose for about two weeks.  Which is where we were the last time I posted.  That post caught us up to our trip to Ecuador in July/August of 2015.  Here is what has happened since then.
In August and September 2015 Jackie’s brother, Mike, and his wife, Pat joined us as we toured around Alaska in a 34 ft RV and took a cruise down the inside passage from Seward, AK to Vancouver, BC.

Mount McKinley

Mount McKinley

 

Whale tail near Vancouver

Whale tail near Vancouver

 

Mike, Pat, Jackie, and Eric somewhere in Alaska

Mike, Pat, Jackie, and Eric somewhere in Alaska

 

We take a float plane ride

We take a float plane ride (yes, there was room inside the plane)

After that we spent some time in our house in NC, and then headed north to visit relatives and celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday.

 

Mom's 90th

Mom’s 90th

 

We brought in the new year in Oriental, NC.  Brother Dave, friend Joan, and Dave and Siobhan (who we’ve cruised with at the Dickerson Rendezvous the last couple years on their Dickerson 41 Down Home), made the trek to NC and joined us crewing with Don and D on their Dickerson 41, Southern Cross, in the Instead of Football Regatta held on New Year’s Day.  It’s a fun Regatta with the winner decided by drawing names out of a hat.  Southern Cross won which I attributed to great crew work and a set of new sails.

One of the Oriental dragons that comes out on New Year's Eve

One of the Oriental dragons that comes out on New Year’s Eve

 

The Southern Cross crew races to victory!

The Southern Cross crew races to victory!

Then it was off to Grenada. Compass Rose was in pretty good shape, but we needed new bottom paint so we hauled out at the new incarnation of the Clarkes Court Marina and Boatyard.  We had our rigging checked and ended up having a new split backstay installed and new forestay/bobstay chainplates fabricated and installed.

On the hard at the new Clarkes Court Bay Boatyard

Compass Rose On the hard at the new Clarkes Court Bay Boatyard

I once again got to race on Jaguar in the Grenada Sailing Week.  We finished third in a tough class.  We were pleasantly surprised to see that Jaguar was the poster boat for the regatta.

Jaguar at speed

Jaguar at speed.  I’m wearing one of those red hats.

 

We then sailed to Carriacou, Union Island, the Tobago Cays, and Bequia.  I had hoped to crew with Hal and Marsha on Eagles Wings in the Easter Regatta, but they were stuck in Grenada getting repairs done.  Luckily I got on as Crew on Cricket and we finished second behind Rasmus in a tough class.

This is what we saw moments after we anchored in Carriacou

This is what we saw moments after we anchored in Carriacou

 

Tradewind sailing

Tradewind sailing on Compass Rose

 

Click here for a video of us sailing to Sandy Island, Carriacou.

 

Just another sunset in Bequia

Just another sunset in Bequia

 

A view of Admiralty Bay, Bequia from Peggy's Rock. (no elevator, no road, just a goat trail)

A view of Admiralty Bay, Bequia from Peggy’s Rock. (no elevator, no road, just a goat trail)

 

Just another sunset in Bequia

Just another sunset in Bequia

We have never stopped in St. Vincent because too many cruisers have been hassled and robbed in the anchorages.  The island, itself, is pretty safe, so while in Bequia we celebrated our anniversary by taking a ferry to St. Vincent and staying a couple nights.  We arranged for a birding guide to take us out for the day.  We saw a lot of birds, but the best sighting was the parrots, because the are so hard to find and they fly so high they are hard to see.

Parrots in St. Vincent

Parrots in St. Vincent

In Bequia we met up with Laurie and Dawn on Cat Tales and did a loose buddy boat with them. We left Bequia and sailed to Mayreau, but decided to  push on because the anchorage was rolly.  We anchored in Chatham Bay, Union Island and Cat Tales caught up with us there the next day.  From there we visited Frigate Bay for a couple days and then bounced our way to Petit St. Vincent.

The next day we dinghied to Petit Martinique with Cat Tales and hiked around the island. The anchorage was very windy and unsettled, so the next day we sailed to Sandy Island, Carriacou for a couple days of snorkeling.

Then Tyrrel Bay and finally back to Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada, where we left Compass Rose for hurricane season.

Mangrove Cuckoo we saw when hiking in Chatham Bay, Union Island

Mangrove Cuckoo we saw when hiking in Chatham Bay, Union Island

 

An old goat and a bunch of kids on the trail above Chatham Bay

An old goat and a bunch of kids on the trail above Chatham Bay. One of them kept chewing on my shorts.

This cruise was different from those of the last few years for a couple reasons.  The first is that we visited four new anchorages (Clarkes Court and Prickley Bays, Grenada; Chatham Bay, Union Island; and Petit St. Vincent).  The second is that we seldom have a buddy boat, so it was great fun to cruise and hang out with Dawn and Laurie on Cat Tales.
We flew back to the US in May and landed in Detroit to spend time with Jackie’s sister who was in the advanced stages of Multiple Sclerosis.  We also had a chance to  spend a weekend at her brother John and sister-in-law’s new cabin in the Upper Peninsula.  John had to quit windsurfing so he gave me most of the gear he had left.  We  rented a pickup truck for the drive back to NC, so we were able to transport the equipment.  We stopped in Ohio to visit my family and headed south to NC.

The reason we rented a pickup was that we were considering buying a pickup truck camper and this let Jackie see what it was like to drive one.  We eventually decided against this option and ended up buying a dirt trawler – a 25 ft Winnebago.  It may sound big, but it’s really pretty small as RVs go.

Irv at an Army Corps of Engineers campground in KY

Irv at an Army Corps of Engineers campground in KY

I got a small trailer to haul the windsurfing gear and put Irv to use towing it.  It’s really decadent to have your own mobile changing room and shower on windsurfing trips.

We set off in our first journey in Irv to see Jackie’s niece’s family in St Louis.  While there, Jackie’s sister Margie took a turn for the worse so we quickly headed back to Detroit.  Margie passed away in the early morning hours of July 14th.  She met her husband Steve during their first year of college in the Sioux, Michigan  Margie worked as a nurse for many years before contracting MS.  We miss her terribly.

After that we spent a little time at our house, just hanging out.  One of the things we have done to pass the time is take up musical instruments.  My brother Dave let me have his saxophone that has been sitting in his closet since we were kids.  I used to play clarinet and oboe in eighth grade, so the switch to sax is fairly easy.

We also spent many Saturday mornings volunteering as Bird Stewards at Wrightsville Beach for the Audubon society.  There is a large colony of shore birds that nest on the beach.  The Audubon society ropes off the nesting area during breeding seasons.  The stewards educate the public and monitor the site.  Jackie got a chance to help band a few thousand Least terns.

Jackie looking at birds in the nesting area

Jackie looking at birds in the nesting area.  You can see the difference in the sand where the nesting area is roped off.

 

Skimmer chicks coming to dinner

Skimmer chicks coming to dinner

 

A tern feeding a fish to her chick

A tern feeding a fish to her chick

 

A tern feeding a fish to her chick

A tern feeding a fish to her chick

Soon we were off on another trip – this time to Asheville, NC to cool off in the Smokey Mountains. We had a lot of fun, but it was still hot there.  On the way we stopped at a campground to visit some old cruising friends, Janice and Steve.  They sold their sailboat, Salacious and bought an RV and a trawler.

We visit Janice and Steve - cruising friends who have gone over to the Dirt Side

We visit Janice and Steve – cruising friends who have gone over to the Dirt Side

 

Irv on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Irv on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Finally we did a trip to the Outer Banks for windsurfing (Eric), paddleboarding (Jackie), and relaxation.  From there we planned to go to Cape May, NJ, for some bird watching and finally swing through the DC area on our way back to NC.  The windsurfing was good and Jackie bought a nice inflatable paddle board.

Irv gets a boat ride

Irv gets a boat ride on the way to the Outer Banks

 

Fishing on the Outer Banks

Fishing on the Outer Banks

 

One of the many shorebirds

One of the many shorebirds

 

My Outer Banks windsurfing instructor trying out a foiling board

My Outer Banks windsurfing instructor trying out a foiling board

 

Shore birds

More Shore birds

 

Failing at leap frog?

Failing at leap frog?

We finished our week on the Outer Banks just as the storm that was to become Hurricane Matthew was brewing in the Atlantic and aimed at Grenada.  The forecasters didn’t expect it to become a hurricane until it passed the Windward Islands, so we just had our boat watcher put down an extra anchor.  As it turned out, the storm went a bit north and Compass Rose did fine.
The problem was that now the projected tracks were aimed at Florida and the US east coast.  We decided that the Outer Banks was probably not the best choice for riding out a hurricane so we pointed Irv west toward higher ground. We considered going back to our house, but there was little we could do there and we had appointments in the DC area soon after the storm would pass through.  We were lucky all around.  Although the storm came closer to our house than our boat we had no damage.  And as a bonus, we tracked down Jack and Bobbie, who we met when they cruised their boat, Moonrise, in the Caribbean.

So it was back to the house for a couple weeks and then off to visit Compass Rose in Grenada.  But just before we left Jackie decided to buy a ukulele.

I’m sure I’ve missed something of note, but that’s a summary of about the last eighteen months.

 

Mitad del Mundo or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

January 18, 2016

posted from Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada

I planned to write and post this in Quito, Ecuador near the Mitad del Mundo – Middle of the World, but things got in the way.  Travel, lousy internet connections, and other stuff of life conspired to delay this blog entry.

*****

A CHANGE OF PLANS

Jackie has always wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands.  She called a travel company to sign up for their trip next year.  They told her they had a cancellation for their upcoming trip and would she like to go now – at a SUBSTANTIAL discount?  We already had a credit from the company that would expire this Fall, so it was a no-brainer – we were going to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, and we were going soon!

BIRDING WITH SAN JORGE LODGES

Despite the discount on the tour, the airfare is still expensive.  We decided to make the most of it so Jackie found the San Jorge eco-lodges that specialized in birding and signed up for a tour that included a couple nights at three of their lodges before our Galapagos tour started.

We scrambled to get our gear together and flew to Ecuador on Tue, July 14.  It was a late flight and was delayed in Atlanta, so we didn’t actually arrive at the San Jorge Lodge lodge in the hills outside of Quito until the 15th.

Our first day was on our own, which was just as well given our late arrival.  The lodge has bird feeders around the main building and we saw lots of humming birds. We hiked the trails above the lodge enjoying more birds and at times a great view looking down at Quito.  For most of the next five days we spent bird watching with a guide on the grounds of the company’s lodges in Quito, Tandayapa, and Milpe; at sites between the lodges; and on group tours.

We saw an incredible number of species of birds and the views of the Andes Mountains were spectacular.  Our first guide was very good at spotting and identifying birds.  At one point he amazed us by dropping down into a river bed to follow a Cock of the Rock.  He came back and reported that the bird was on its nest under the bridge.  It was too dark to get a good picture, but we could see the bird nestled up in the supports under the bridge.

We got a bit of a surprise on our first morning at the Tandayapa lodge.  We walked up the trail to breakfast and found the little dining area surrounded by hummingbird feeders and other feeding stations and they were full of birds.  We had expected to go on a hike to look at birds, but it turned out that this was the planned activity and that the fellow who had carried our bags to our room the previous evening was now switching hats between waiter and guide.

The rest of this trip our guide was Jorge, owner of the San Jorge lodges.  He took us on bird walks at the Tandayapa and Milpe lodges, and had us join the people from the Refugio Paz de las Aves company.  They knew were to find a few special birds and could usually call them out to clearings where we birders would stand quietly waiting for them.

 

Tandayapa Lodge

Tandayapa Lodge

 

Our room at the Milpe lodge

Our room at the Milpe lodge

 

Hummingbirds vie for dominance at the bird feeder

 

Racket-Tail Hummingbird

Racket-Tail Hummingbird

 

Birders that we traveled with.

Jackie, our guide, and fellow birders Michelle and John somewhere in the Andes.

 

Rufous-Collared Sparrow

Rufous-Collared Sparrow

 

Screech Owl

Screech Owl

 

Golden-hooded Tanager

Golden-hooded Tanager

 

Toucan Barbet

Toucan Barbet

 

An Antpitta - one of the birds that would pose for food.

An Antpitta – one of the birds that would pose for food.

 

QUITO and JOURNEY TO THE AMAZON WATERSHED

After about a week in Ecuador we started the main tour.  We met the our guide, Diego, and our fellow travellers in Quito and spent a day sightseeing, mostly visiting the old city area.  It was a little touristy, but nice.  It was similar to many South American cities with narrow streets opening on a large plaza.  We stopped to visit a large curch, which was quite spectacular. But what set it aside from all the other old Spanish churches we have seen was that where you would expect to see gargoyles they used local animals such as iquanas, dolphins, sea turtles, and penguins.

This penguin was one of many local animals used instead of gargoyles

This penguin was one of many local animals used instead of gargoyles

The next day we began our journey to the Yarina Lodge in the Amazon watershed.  We were to take a bus over the Andes to meet a motorized canoe that would take us the final stretch to the lodge.

It was a gray day as our bus fought its way out of the city through the morning rush traffic.  We were soon climbing the Andes Mountains which surround Quito.  I could write an entire blog about this trip, but I will try to keep it as brief as possible.

We reached the highest point of the trip and stopped for photos at a roadside shrine.  This was a popular stop to give thanks for reaching the pass and to ask for a safe trip to their destination.

We proceeded on, but had to stop for crews to clear mudslides from the road. One was pretty dramatic with a large shovel clearing mud from the road as water flooded past and cascaded into the ravine.  Driving through the water was a bit dicey and we were quite glad when we got to the other side. That was when our guide told us that because of the recent and continuing rains we should expect more landslides before this part of the journey was over.

The first major landslide we encounter. A small car drove through so we figured the bus would make it

The first major landslide we encounter. A small car drove through so we figured the bus would make it – it did. Note that you see only the top of the deep ravine in this picture.

We stopped for lunch at a nice little place and then continued on.  We reached another line of traffic waiting for a landslide to be cleared.  We tried to go back, but got stuck at a new landslide behind us, which wasn’t being cleared due to lack of equipment.  We tried to go forward again but shortly after we got in line a terrified woman came running past screaming in Spanish that the mountain was falling.  Our driver turned the bus around and found a safe place to park off the side of the road.  We later learned that the road crew cleared a lane and cars started through, but more of the mountain slid down killing some people in the cars.

Now we were truly stuck and we would certainly spend the night on the bus.  We were parked next to what looked like an abandoned restaurant, but soon a couple cars pulled in the gate.  Our bus driver went to investigate.  It was a hostel that was due to open in a month.  Our guide negotiated lodging and the workers set up beds and stripped the plastic covers off new mattresses.

Our guide talked the work crew into putting us up in this lodge for the night

Our guide talked the work crew into putting us up in this lodge for the night

Things were a bit primitive.  The only toilet in the building didn’t have water connected yet, so they set up a small children’s pool, filled it with water, and put a bucket in it so we could flush.  We only got one blanket each and all they had to give us for dinner was popcorn.  But still, we felt quite lucky.  The only other building between the landslides was a house –  so we were the only people who got rooms for the night.

The next morning one of our hosts got a ride to one landslide, crawled over it, and hitched a ride to the closest town for groceries. Then he reversed the process. After having popcorn for dinner, breakfast was a feast.

The landslide had been cleared during the night, so we got on the bus and headed on our way.  It was a bit eerie because the road was blocked at one end and closed to traffic at the other, so we encountered only one or two other cars.  But what was really spooky was negotiating the landslide after the events of the previous day.  The driver stopped, took a good look, and then drove down the open lane as fast as the bus would go.

Our bus negotiates the path cleared through the landslide

Our bus negotiates the path cleared through the landslide

We arrived at the next town to find that our route was closed due to a collapsed bridge.  Poor Diego once again had to call the office to arrange what was probably plan D or E by that time.  He took us to lunch at a restaurant in the next town for lunch. After a few more phone calls he announced to us that although we couldn’t drive to where we were supposed to meet the boat we need not fear.  The company had arranged for a boat to meet us in a nearby town that would then take us partway down river.  Another boat would start up river to meet us halfway.  What was to have been about a five mile ride down the river would now be ninety miles.

We transferred from the bus to the motorized canoes for the first leg of the river journey

We transferred from the bus to the motorized canoes for the first leg of the river journey

Despite detours and an emergency comfort stop which entailed knocking on the door of a random house to get permission to use their outbuilding, we arrived at our rendezvous point.  Our driver took us as close to the water as he dared, which turned out to be a little too close and he stuck the bus in the mud.  (Just as an aside, this was the fourth tour we took with this company and they had got a vehicle stuck on each of the previous ones.  This time they really did it up right.  “Adventure” is their middle name.)

We boarded the motorized canoe and blasted down the river.  It was mid-afternoon and we had a long way to go.  We rendezvoused with the next vessel and transferred all the passengers and luggage while drifting in the middle of the river.  The second vessel was a more typical powerboat with a steering wheel, windshield, and seating for three across.

Again we blasted down the river and darkness began to fall. The river was swollen, muddy, and had random debris floating in it.  We bumped a couple small logs in the dark, but not hard enough to hurt the boat.  They did have some fuel issues and periodically the engine would stop and they would transfer fuel from a barrel into the fuel tank.

Finally we slowed down and soon saw a small light at the edge of the river.  It was a canoe from the Yarina Lodge.  After some discussion the lodge people convinced our captain that the water was deep enough that he could make it to the lodge rather than transferring us and our luggage back to a canoe.  We headed into a break in the mangroves and wound our way to the lodge’s dock.  We were over 24 hours late, but we had arrived.

YARINA LODGE

The lodge was nice.  There was a large open dining area and small cabins set up on a hill overlooking the water. They had to compress our activities to try to make up for our lost day.  We started by doing some birding from the dining area while waiting for breakfast.  After breakfast we took a nature hike and met some canoes for the trip back to the lodge.  Lunch was hosted by a local family upstream, so we travelled there and back in the motorized canoes.  The lunch was quite good – they steamed fish which included Jackie and another tourist learning to prepare the fish.  After lunch we got to try our hands at blow guns.  They are very long and take a lot of lung power to shoot the dart. After we returned to the lodge we explored a small lake next to the river in small canoes. And to top off the day we had monkeys visit us in the trees behind a couple huts.

 

Jackie is actually a much better shot at this than I am.

Jackie is actually a much better shot at this than I am.

 

The squirrel monkeys were playing just over the cabins

The squirrel monkeys were playing just over the cabins

 

Fellow travelers on one of our small boat tours at Yarina Lodge

Fellow travelers on one of our small boat tours at Yarina Lodge

The next day we got back on schedule.  We took the canoes to the nearby town and toured the market.  The tour included the opportunity to eat some larvae.

Bugs on the barbie

Bugs on the Barbie

 

Don't think too hard - just take a bite.

Don’t think too hard – just take a bite.

ON TO THE GALAPAGOS

We managed to get back to Quito and then do a daytrip to the market at Otovalo without incident and then it was off to the Galapagos Islands, some 600 miles off Ecuador’s coast.  Diego arranged for us to get to the airport and sent us off.  The flight made a stop in the seacoast town of Guayaquil where our guide for the second half of the trip joined us.

We were picked up in dinghies and transferred to our cruising cat, Archipel II.  We then commenced a week of touring the Galapagos Islands.  We visited one or two locations each day. Sometimes we made short trips between sites midday and other times we sailed at night.  Ecuador is trying hard to limit the impact of tourism on the islands so every tour boat has a very strict itinerary that includes the times within which a group can visit a site.  Tourists must be accompanied by guides and stay on paths except on a few populated islands.

What makes the Galapagos Islands interesting is the diversity among species on different islands and the differences between them and those in North, Central, and South America. The most common example given is the approximately fifteen species of birds that have been come to be known as “Darwin’s Finches.”  Each specie evolved a beak shape to best eat the food available on its island.  The differences in some of these beaks are subtle, but there are other animals with more obvious differences.  These include the shape of tortoise shells, boobies with blue feet, and penguins that live at the equator.  But  probably the most interesting are the marine iguanas – reptiles that swim for their food and flightless cormorants – birds that cannot fly, but swim for their food.

I won’t give a detailed list of where we went and what we did, but here are some pictures.

 

Archipel II, our home in the Galapagos

Archipel II, our home in the Galapagos

 

The Albatross that followed the boat one day

The Albatross that followed the boat one day

 

Tortoise with a high shell - an adaptation to accommodate reaching up to eat taller plants

Tortoise with a high shell at the neck – an adaptation to accommodate reaching up to eat taller plants

 

Tortoise with a "normal" shell

Tortoise with a “normal” shell

 

Flightless cormorant swims for his food

Flightless cormorant swims for his food

 

A penguin - living at the equator

A penguin – another flightless bird – living at the equator

 

Exploring the lava field at Punta Espinosa

Exploring the lava field at Punta Espinosa

 

Mama and baby sea lion and

Mama and baby sea lions

 

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Blue star fish

 

The iconic blue-footed boobie

The iconic blue-footed boobie

 

Frigate birds liked to hitchhike on the boat

Frigate birds liked to hitchhike on the boat

 

Sea lions liked to hang out at the Santa Cruz fish market

Sea lions hung out at the Santa Cruz fish market waiting for scraps

 

Jackie helps prepare a treat

Jackie helps prepare a treat

 

Isabela Bahaia Villamil DSC_6810

The birds in Bahaia Villamil “rained” from the sky to feast on a large school of bait fish

 

Isabela Bahaia Elizabeth DSC_7181

Rays at Bahaia Elizabeth

 

More rays at Bahaia Elizabeth

More rays at Bahaia Elizabeth

 

Many islands have forbidding terrain like this.

Many islands have forbidding terrain like this.

 

A marine iguana swims by while we snorkel

A marine iguana swims by while we snorkel.  Unfortunately they won’t pose for you in the water like they will on land.

 

We saw these crabs at a few islands

We saw these crabs at a few islands

 

Red-billed tropic bird

Red-billed tropic bird.

That really just scratches the surface of the Galapagos, but I have to stop somewhere.

Next: Back to the Caribbean

Now What?

July 13, 2015

posted from Leland, NC

You will remember from our last post that during the first week after we returned from Grenada we spent less than two days in our house.  Finally we are here.

Now what?

We are trying to figure out how to live in our house.   OK, so we usually know how to turn the lights on and off (…but there are three wall switches that work that light and I can’t find any of them…), adjust the temperature in the shower, open and close the garage door, run the dishwasher, cook on the stove (at least Jackie does), play the stereo (more or less), etc., but it takes time to settle in to a rhythm.  Where do you sit and read (do we even have the right furniture)? How do you decide whether to eat dinner on the porch or at the island or at the dining table and who sits where at which place?

Probably the biggest is figuring out where to keep things – and then remembering where you moved it to when you decided the last place it was in wasn’t right.

This is serious stuff.   It can’t be taken lightly.

We tend to visit furniture stores at lot.  The people at the consignment store have us on speed dial in case certain things come in.

But we are managing despite not knowing where anything goes.  It feels like a Sisyphean effort sometimes, but the general clutter seems to be diminishing as more things find homes or at least temporary hiding places.

So what else do we do?

NEW TOYS

Alas, Jackie’s beloved iPad bit the dust.  It served her well, but it just wouldn’t work anymore, so she bought herself a new tablet.  We’ll see how she does with an Android.

We will soon embark on another adventure where it would be really nice to have a good underwater camera.  We have a camera with a waterproof housing, but it’s too clunky to travel with and besides it’s on the boat.  We started camera shopping and picked an Olympus TG-4 because it takes good pictures and it has a reputation for being rugged (we’ve drowned our share of cameras).  Many of the pictures in this blog posting were taken by me while getting used to the new camera.

Still trying to discover the secret of taking a good selfie

Still trying to discover the secret of taking a good selfie

 

HANGING OUT

We are retired.  Sometimes we just relax on the screened in porch and read or watch the world march past.  One day we got energetic and went on a bird walk at Airlie Gardens.  Another day we went to a bird supply store for a presentation on raptors.  It seems we see a lot of birds.

A group of turkeys walk by at the back of our yard.

A group of turkeys walk by at the back of our yard.

This group of wild turkeys wandered through the back yard one afternoon.  There were at least three adults and quite a few young ones.  Later we saw the group crossing the entrance drive to the community.

We see a variety of birds in the trees and birdbath behind the house including cardinals, mocking birds, bluebirds, finches, thrashers, and a few other small species.

The birdbath is especially fun because it’s in the open and the birds usually hang out almost long enough to get the camera.

Here is a finch we saw at Airlie Gardens

Here is a finch we saw at Airlie Gardens

Here is a finch in the birdbath

Here is a finch in the birdbath

A blue bird tries to splash out all the water

A bluebird tries to splash out all the water

 

C'mon in, the water's fine. Not if it makes me look like that!

“C’mon in, the water’s fine.”
“Not if it makes me look like that!”

A dragonfly we saw at Airlie Gardens

A dragonfly we saw at Airlie Gardens

The screech owl we got to pet at the Wild Bird Center's raptor presentation

The screech owl we got to pet at the Wild Bird Center’s raptor presentation

We hear a lot of insect noise in the evening.  One night we thought we heard an interesting bird, but when we described the call to our next door neighbors they told us it is a bobcat that lives in the area.  Previously we had seen some deer tracks and some other tracks that we couldn’t identify at the time, but now we are sure they were the bobcat’s

GETTING IN SHAPE

The community has a nice complex for sports and socializing.  There is “The Grand Lanai,” (Lanai is the trendy term for enclosed porch) a large open building used for all kinds of gatherings.  It has a kitchen, giant TV, and a local restaurateur is now running the bar in the evenings.  No cash accepted – credit cards only although I think they will put you on a subscription.

Behind the building is a nice pool.  To one side are tennis and basketball courts and to the other side is a fitness center.   Jackie likes to use the fitness center in the mornings and we often go to the pool and swim laps after dinner when it isn’t crowded and the sun is down.

The bottom of the pool

The bottom of the pool

Bathing beauty

Bathing beauty with surrealistic head

Jackie tries out her new mask and snorkle

Jackie tries out her new mask and snorkle

We also have the bicycles in working order and ride a little although it’s hot during the day.

BOTTEGA (1. the studio of a master artist, in which artists, apprentices, or students learn by participating in the work.)

Bottega Art and Wine is one of those places you might never wander into based on what you see from the street unless maybe you had an appliance you needed to get fixed.  It’s a rather plain, nondescript storefront with a few old portable black and white TVs in the window.  (It must be the block for places that aren’t what they seem.  Next door is Hell’s Kitchen, which turns out to be a big sports bar.)

Step inside and you find a long bar on one wall in the front half.  The back has couches, chairs, and small tables.  The walls are festooned with paintings and other artsy things.  It’s a bit reminiscent of college in the late 60’s/early 70’s.  We found that a drumming circle forms on Tuesday nights, so we stopped by.  It took a while for a quorum to form and for the drummers to settle in, but soon they were beating out African rhythms.

Drum circle (looking towards the street)

Drum circle (looking towards the street)

Drum circle (looking towards the back)

Drum circle (looking towards the back)

The drumming went on for a short time and then one of the women who was wandering around started belly dancing.  The drumming picked up and she danced for a while.  Finally she stopped and another woman started belly dancing.  Evidently they are regulars there and enjoy dancing to the drumming.

Sometime during the evening people started wandering through the drum circle and going out the back door into a little courtyard.  After it was dark someone started fire dancing.  When the first person stopped another started and about five or six people eventually took turns.  Nothing like beer, wine and flaming kerosene to get the party going.  The whole evening was quite a show and evidently it was a typical Tuesday night.  We will be back for sure.

One of the many fire dancers

One of the many fire dancers

Fire dancer gets going

Fire dancer gets going

ROAD TRIP

OK, so it was only to Shallotte – less than an hour down the road. I found out that an old sailing friend, Captain Jim and his wife Debbie, have been spending time at a waterfront house not too far from us.  The house was Debbie’s grandfather’s and it (along with most of the houses on the street) is still in the family.  Jackie and I visited them recently and although we haven’t seen each other in eight years or so, it felt like we had just seen them yesterday.

The Intercoastal Waterway just around the corner from Captain Jim's

The Intercoastal Waterway just around the corner from Captain Jim’s

NEXT: Crossing the line.

 

Hard Aground (unless sailing)

July 3, 2015

posted from Leland, NC

Well here we are back in the US of A, but we aren’t quite done with tales of Grenada.  There remain a few things to talk about that we did before we left the island.

Compass Rose in Mt. Hartman Bay.

Compass Rose in Mt. Hartman Bay.

BIRDING IN THE DOVE SANCTUARY

One of our favorite things to do is take morning birding walks through the Grenada Dove Sanctuary.  Amazingly we only did it once this year and that was in late May.  It was a nice walk, but the brush is fairly low and dense so the birds easily hide in the bushes and trees.  We eventually saw quite a few birds, but not much out of the ordinary.

Grenada Flycatcher

Unidentified Bird

Mangrove cuckoo

BOAT BUILDING

I’m not the only one who had a major project this year.  Dick from Lady Sybil decided to build a dinghy.  He arranged with Secret Harbour Marina to use some space near the restaurant to do the work.  Charles from Margaret Sharon helped him with the project.  It was fun to watch the dink go together and it was beautiful when it was done.

Dick and Charles build a dinghy next to the marina restaurant.

Dick and Charles build a dinghy next to the marina restaurant.

They clamped the gunnels on with split pvc pipe.

They clamped the gunnels on with split pvc pipe.

Charles prepares to fit another piece.

Charles prepares to fit another piece.

GRAND ETANG

Monty, Jackie’s drumming instructor has talked about going to Grand Etang, a park in the Grenada highlands, to drum and play music as the full moon rises.  Jackie organized a bus and invited along Monty and a few other musicians.  Once there, a few of us hiked up the mountain to take in the view.

Looking down at Grand Etang Lake

Looking down at Grand Etang Lake.  Notice the low cloud layer.

 

Southwestern point of Grenada

Southwestern point of Grenada

Islands manufacture their own climates to some extent.  The trade winds force warm, moist, sea air up the mountains where it cools and creates clouds.  Luckily for us, the clouds stayed above us instead of enveloping us in fog.  This made it a bit damp and chilly feeling and blocked out the moonrise, so we didn’t stay as long as we thought we might.  Despite the weather, the musicians jammed and enjoyed the afternoon.

(L) Monty, Jackie's drum instructor and (R) George, our bus driver and boat watcher

(L) Monty, Jackie’s drum instructor and (R) George, our bus driver and boat watcher

The Musicians: (L to R) Hella, Fleming, Trudy, Jackie, xx, Andy, Jack, and Monty

The Musicians: (L to R) Hella, Fleming, Trudy, Jackie, André, Andy, Jack, and Monty

RETURN TO THE US

Finally it was time head back to the States.  Once again, the pilot took us over the south coast of Grenada and we got a bird’s eye view of the anchorages.

NE portion of Mt. Hartman Bay and Compass Rose

NE portion of Mt. Hartman Bay and Compass Rose

South coast of Grenada. Mt. Hartman Bay is in the lower left corner.

South coast of Grenada. Mt. Hartman Bay is in the lower left corner.

Here is the south coast of Grenada looking east.  The SE portion of Mt. Hartman Bay is in the lower left corner.  Up a little and to the right is Hog Island with the anchorage to the left of the island.  beyond the Hog Island bridge is Clarks Court Bay.  Right edge of the middle of the picture is Calvigney Island and just beyond it is Le Phare Bleu Bay.  We can reach any of that area in our dinghy in 15 minutes or less.

Other than a flight delay causing us to get a later connection, the trip went well and shortly after arriving we had all house and car systems running.

DICKERSON 50th ANNIVERSARY RENDEZVOUS 

Not to long before we were to leave Grenada we realized that we would get back in time for the Dickerson 50th Anniversary Rendezvous in Oxford, MD, but we wouldn’t have much time to spare.  We can’t go to a sailing rendezvous and stay in a motel, so we started looking for boats with extra berths and in need of crew.  Dave and Siobhan heard of our plight and invited us to stay with them on their Dickerson 41, Down Home.  We have stayed with them and their puppy, Kip, before and had a great time so we were really looking forward to it.

The offer included sailing from their marina in Baltimore to the rendezvous and back, but we had to move fast.  We landed in Wilmington late Tuesday night and we were in Baltimore by late Thursday afternoon.  Dave and I finished some boat projects including installing his new chart plotter.

Friday morning we headed down the Patapsco River and then south down the Chesapeake Bay. We motored in light winds at first, but eventually did some sailing.

Sailing on Down Home with Siobhan, Dave, and Kip

Sailing on Down Home with Siobhan, Dave, and Kip

High tide had just passed so we were able to cut through Knapps Narrows.  We arrived in Oxford and had time to spare before the evening get together.

 

We exit Knapps Narrows without bumping the bottom or top

We exit Knapps Narrows without bumping the bottom or top

 

Lots and Lots of Dickerson Owners

Lots and Lots of Dickerson Owners.  From left to right they are….uhhh… never mind.

Saturday is the big regatta where we race around in the Choptank River and the winner becomes Commodore for the next year.  We did well leading most of the fleet, but our rating – based in part on past performance – kept us from winning.  Don and D Wogaman on Southern Cross finished close behind us and won our class.  Bill Toth won the show on Starry Night.

Old Dickerson woody

Old Dickerson woody

Pre-start action

Pre-start action

Close mark rounding

Close mark rounding

 

Vigilant race crew

Vigilant race crew

That evening we all gathered at the Tred Avon Yacht Club for the big dinner, prize giving, installing of the new Commodore, and other sundry entertainment.  There were a lot of Dickerson owners in attendance and  Dickerson 41 owners were well represented.  To the best of our knowledge nineteen 41s were built, but one sank in the Caribbean.  We had six boats at the rendezvous and two more represented by their owners. Not a bad turnout!

Dickerson 41 owners

Dickerson 41 owners

Jackie and I are in the back row – Compass Rose

The man to the left of me and the woman in front of me are Hank and Denise Cope – Toogoodoo

The pirate is Bruce Franz (Tucky skipped the picture) – Hemisphere Dancer

Dave Fahrmeier is to the right of the pirate and Siobhan is between the ladies in blue and yellow – Down Home

The man with the red cap and beard is Don Wogaman and D is in the blue dress – Southern Cross

The man in the blue shirt and the woman in the yellow dress are Daniel Pomerleau and Louise Maillette –Douce Folie 1

The man in the red hat is Jeff Stephenson and his cousin John is in the black shirt – Cavu

That leaves the couple in the lower right, Bill and Chris Burry – Plover

The rendezvous officially ends on Sunday, but there is usually a post-rendezvous cruise and this year was no exception.  Part of the fleet sailed across the Choptank River and up Broad Creek to anchor for the night.  Five of the Dickerson 41s (Southern Cross, Toogoodoo, Down Home, Cavu, Plover) participated as well as a few other boats.  They were Harriet and Parker Hallam on Frigate Connie,  Randy and Barbara Bruns on Rhythms in Blue who joined the 41’s in the raftup.  Barry and Judy Creighton on Crew Rest and Jim and Phaedra Hontz on Troubadour (ex Klame) anchored separately.

Seven Dickersons rafted together

Seven Dickersons rafted together

Bill, Chris, and Flaco of Southern Cross

Bill, Chris, and navigator Flaco of Plover

Hank and Denise on Toogoodoo

Hank and Denise on Toogoodoo

D on Southern Cross

D on Southern Cross

The raft broke up for the evening – a little late – so it was interesting to watch everyone anchoring in the dark.  All went well.  The next day it was back to Baltimore and the day after we drove back to our house near Wilmington, NC.

Next: We stay at the house for…

CATCHING UP

June 6, 2015

posted from Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada

The last post was about our return to Grenada and covered our travels up to July 2014.  This post will cover us up to almost June 2015.  To say that much has happened since then would be a gross understatement.

We returned to the US in late July.  We visited relatives and friends and ended up in Detroit.  From there we flew to Africa and toured in Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa.  It was an amazing trip.

 

Elephant checking us out.  Close? The yellow thing at the top of the picture is the roof of our LandCruiser

Elephant checking us out. Close? The yellow thing at the top of the picture is the roof of our LandCruiser

 

Elephants playing in the river

Elephants playing in the Chobe River, Botswana

 

Rhinoceros_8543a

Rhinoceroses, Karongwe Park, South Africa

 

zebras_1484a

Zebras. Hwange Game Preserve, Zimbabwe

 

Lilac-breasted Roller

Lilac-breasted Roller. Chobe River, Botswana

 

Cheetah eating a warthog in the Okvango Delta, Botswana

Cheetah eating a warthog in the Okvango Delta, Botswana

warthogs_5356

Warthogs – not yet eaten. Kambi Ya Tembo, Tanzania

 

Hippos. Chobe River, Botswana

Hippos. Chobe River, Botswana

 

Lion.  Serengeti, Tanzania

Lion. Serengeti, Tanzania

 

We always get stuck. (L) A wheel falls into an anteater's den, Kambi Ya Tembo, Tanzania. (R) Buried in the sand, Okvango Delta, Botswana

We always get stuck. (L) A wheel falls into an anteater’s den, Kambi Ya Tembo, Tanzania. (R) Buried in the sand, Okvango Delta, Botswana

 

 

Just over five weeks and 8000+ pictures later we flew back to Detroit, collected our car, went to a niece’s wedding, visited more family and friends, and drove to North Carolina.  Finally we moved into our new house just outside of Wilmington.  Then Thanksgiving in Virginia, a holiday party in DC, Christmas in Detroit and Cleveland, and New Years Eve in Oriental, NC. On New Year’s Day Jackie flew to Missouri to help our niece who was about to deliver her third child and I (Eric) sailed in the New Year’s Day Regatta in Oriental and then returned to our house.

BACK TO GRENADA

I started my trip to Grenada on Jan 6, but it was a night in Miami, a detour through St. Lucia, and a lost bag later that I finally arrived on Compass Rose.  The batteries were low, but otherwise all was well.

We strip most of the gear off the deck and stow it below when we leave for extended periods of time and it took the next couple weeks putting everything back together and doing some maintenance and repair on items before they went back in service.

GRENADA SAILING WEEK

Boat maintenance and repair was interrupted at the end of January by the start of Grenada Sailing Week.  I was signed on again as crew on Jaguar.  In the past I was on the main sheet, but I moved to the pit for this regatta.  That meant taking care of the halyards for the main, both genoas (we were rated for a second headsail rather than a spinnaker),  topping lifts and downhauls for two spinnaker poles and pulling the second headsail below when we lowered it.  I shared these duties with Sam, another crew member and between us we kept that part of the boat running smoothly.

The racing was a lot of fun and the crew performed well, but we had a couple bad starts, a close encounter that caused us to do a penalty turn, and a short grounding off Grande Anse Beach (no big deal for a Chesapeake Bay sailor).  We were rated as the slowest boat in our fleet so all the other boats had to give us time at the finish, but there were a couple times when we regretted not having the spinnaker after all.  When all was said and done we finished fifth out of seven boats and one point out of fourth place.  Although disappointed with our results we still had a lot of fun.

Jaguar crashes to weather

Jaguar crashes to weather

As usual, the Grenada Workboat Races were held on the weekend in the middle of the regatta.  It’s always fun to take the day off and watch the races from Grand Anse beach.

Grand Anse Beach workboats

Grand Anse Beach workboats

Beating to the finish

Beating to the finish

Our niece, Autumn, had been born a couple weeks later than expected, so Jackie spent a little more time in Missouri and then flew back to close up the house.  Jackie finally arrived in Grenada on the last day of the regatta.  By that time the boat was back together and the systems were all up and running.  Unfortunately, I had discovered some rot in the starboard cockpit coaming.  Further inspection found a lot of rot in that board, rot in the winch base, and rot in the deck.  And so I commenced on a fairly major repair project.

CRUISING: FIXING YOUR BOAT IN PARADISE

The problem with boat projects is that once you get started you usually identify other repairs, maintenance, and improvements that you should do while you are working on that part of the boat, and this was no exception.  The deck rot was caused by the way some hoses were routed, so those needed to be redone, The propane locker was always a little substandard and the tank needed proper mounts, and it was time to replace the cockpit coaming limber holes that allowed water in as well as out with proper drains, and …… you get the picture.

As of this writing the deck has been repaired and the hose routings have been upgraded.  The cockpit coaming and winch base have been rebuilt and painted and everything is assembled.  We could actually go sailing if we weren’t preparing to fly back to the US.  The plan was to paint the deck this year, but we will have just enough time to finish this repair.

Rotted cockpit coaming and winch base

Rotted cockpit coaming and winch base

Coaming and winch base core made with honeycomb panel

Coaming and winch base core made with honeycomb panel

 

Ready for fairing

Ready for fairing

 

Back together and ready to sail

Back together and ready to sail

FUN AND GAMES

It hasn’t been all nose to the grindstone.  There has been Mexican Train Dominoes, Latin dance lessons, jam sessions, jazz and poetry night at the museum, Trivia Night at the Tiki bar, Sunday afternoons at Roger’s Beach Bar, and rotis at Nimrods as well and African drumming.

Roger's Beach Bar on Hog Island hosted a pig roast

Roger’s Beach Bar on Hog Island hosted a pig roast

Jam session at Secret Harbour

Jam session at Secret Harbour

Jackie even got invited by Monty, her drumming instructor, to play with him at a gig at Savvy’s beach bar at Mount Cinnamon resort.

Jackie played as a guest drummer at Savvy beach bar

Jackie played as a guest drummer at Savvy beach bar

COMINGS AND GOINGS

There has been a little excitement in and around the anchorage.  There was a boat that hurricane Ivan tossed up on the rocks in 2004 and has been sitting there ever since.  One day a large tug boat came in and dragged if off.  The word is that it will be used as a floating workshop by someone in the next bay.

The last wreck from Hurricane Ivan is pulled from the rocks and refloated

The last wreck from Hurricane Ivan is pulled from the rocks and refloated

Just after this wreck was removed, Bob from the old Clarkes Court Marina brought the Oasis bar around from Clarkes Court Bay where it was anchored after being placed on floating docks last year (see previous post)

This Oasis is a dry place surrounded by water

This Oasis is a dry place surrounded by water

One day we had a boat break its mooring while the owner was away, but a bunch of us got to it just before it hit another boat and moved it to a new mooring with our dinghies.  That night the boat that almost got hit broke its mooring. Luckily the owners woke up and got the boat under control and anchored before they hit any one.

REEFer MADNESS

The really big event was the rescue of Ratan, a boat that went up on the reef between Mt. Hartman Bay and Hog Island.  A bunch of cruisers in dinghies responded as well as Dieter with his big yellow RIB (rigid inflatable boat) from Le Phare Bleu.  The boat was upright and had and anchor out to keep the surf from washing them further onto the reef.  A strong surf was pushing the boat around and made it quite challenging to get close with a dinghy.

Dieter tried to pull him off, but with no success.  Another cruiser, Stephan,  and his son took a halyard from the stranded boat and tried to pull it over sideways to get the keel up, but the boat had a winged keel so it was difficult to get it free.  Then his outboard quit and wouldn’t restart so his son took the halyard and transferred to Stewart’s (Iguana) dinghy so they could continue to tip the boat.  I took the first dinghy in tow and took him out of the surf zone to a channel marker where he could work on his engine.

Dieter decided he couldn’t get the boat free with his RIB, so he went to get Le Phare Bleu’s tug.  When he returned George from Survival Anchorage used a long line he had in his dinghy as a messenger line and took it from the tug to the stranded boat so they could use it to pull in the heavy tow line.  He got it there and one of the people on the boat started to talk to him.  Just then a wave broke on the reef and flipped George’s dinghy.  I went to help George, Axle and Mary Clare (Azaya) followed in case they were needed.  George and I gathered his gear, got him in my dinghy, and towed his dinghy in to a beach.  He has a hard dinghy, so it was easy to right.

We got George’s dinghy bailed out and headed towards George’s boat to get oil for the fuel and some tools.  We got the rest of the stuff he needed and went to a dock where George could work on his engine.  He drained the carb, flushed the water out of the engine, put in new plugs, and it started on the first pull.

Dieter got Ratan off the rocks with his tug and towed her to Le Phare Bleu.  No word on what damage she might have sustained.

The great thing about this event was that a lot of people dropped what they were doing and responded immediately to Rattan, a boat in distress.  Enough people so that when unexpected problems arose there were people available to help.  Some cruisers like Peter and Anne (Spice of Life) never got the opportunity to help, but they bobbed around cold and wet farther from shore and in rougher conditions than they would normally venture out in, to stand by just in case they were needed.

Thanks to everyone who participated.  There are a few cruisers who showed up whose names I don’t know – sorry I can’t mention you, but you know who you are.

NEXT: Return to the US

RETURN TO GRENADA

September 6, 2014

posted from Johannesburg, South Africa

We had a fine sail from Carriacou to Grenada.  The wind was abaft the beam, the seas were fairly calm, and once we figured out the how to play the current we made good time.  The wind usually dies on the leeward side of Grenada, but it stayed steady most of the way down the island.  We had to motor a few miles past St. George, but the wind filled in at the lower half of the bay.  We rounded Point Salines and got the wind and current right on the nose, so we motor-sailed and then motored the last few miles to Mt. Hartman Bay.  The trip ends by keeping Prickly Point to port and then entering Mt. Hartman Bay.

Aerial view of Grenada's south coast

Aerial view of Grenada’s south coast

 

1. Clarks Court Bay
2. Le Phare Bleu out of the picture to the left
3. Whisper Cove Marina
4. Clarks Court Bay Marina
5. Hog Island and Roger’s Beach Bar with anchorage to the right
6. Mount Hartman Bay (we like to anchor near the 6)
7. Secret Harbour Marina
8. Buget Marine, Timbers (formerly Da Big Fish), Spice Island Boatyard
9. Prickly Bay (Prickly Bay Marina and Tiki Bar to the left)
10. Prickly Point
11. Lower Woburn Dock and Nimrods Rum Shop
As you can see from the picture, Mt. Hartman Bay is guarded by some reefs, so it takes a bit of concentration on the chart, GPS, and water to find the way in.  Once we had the course figured out I was free to really look into the bay.  It was filled with boats!  I later counted over 75 boats anchored or moored and another ten or so in Secret Harbour Marina.  This is at least twice as many as there were during our last visit in 2012 and probably three times more boats in the bay than during our first visit in 2010.

Crowded Mt. Hartman Bay

Crowded Mt. Hartman Bay

We worked our way through the boats and amazingly found a place to anchor in our favorite part of the bay. We put away sailing gear and got out our anchorage gear and finally relaxed and looked around.  We recognized quite a few boats, but we realized that most of the boats in the bay appeared to be closed up.  We spotted people on only three other boats! We began to feel like we were in a Stephen King movie.

The next day was Friday and we dinghied in to the marina to catch the shopping bus.  We found that there were more people on their boats than we thought.

CHANGES

Returning to an island is fun because you get to see friends and familiar places.  This is especially true of Grenada, because we have spent so much time there.  It’s also interesting to see what’s changed and this was a year of big changes.

We already knew that Da Big Fish restaurant had closed but what we didn’t know was that is was being remodeled and planned to open at the beginning of August as The Timbers.  It would be a more upscale restaurant managed by the same fellow who runs The Tiki Bar at Prickly Bay Marina.  Da Big Fish was a bit out of the way for us to visit it on a regular basis, but we did go there once in a while by bus for special occassions.  We look forward to seeing what it is like when we get back.

The other big change was that Clarks Court Bay Marina was closing.  Bob, the owner, couldn’t quite make it financially and had to sell.  It will reopen as a boat yard and marina and the project was well underway when we left.

The marina closing was sad news. It was about a ten minute dinghy ride from Mt. Hartman Bay so we went there most wednesday nights for burgers and music and at other times for special events like cruiser cricket matches.  We attended the last Burger Night, saw usual crowd, and listened to Gylfie and Jomo play all the regular tunes and accompany Bob as he sang one for the crowd.  We saw the last burger come off the grill.  It was the end of an era.

The last two burgers served, and the grill closed.

The last two burgers served, and the grill closed.

Bob and BandDSC_3603

Bob does one last Burger Night song.

AN OASIS IN THE BAY

But there was still hope.  The center of activity was The Oasis Bar in the middle of the marina, but it didn’t fit into the new owner’s vision.  Bob devised a plan to pick up the Oasis with cranes, place it on floating pontoons, and move it to a new location.  It all sounded improbable, but steel braces were installed and cranes were scheduled.  On the appointed day, the crowd grew.  Bar Zero was opened in the building next to the Oasis.  It was dubbed Bar Zero, because when it opened there was zero alcohol available, but that was soon remedied – after all, Bob had to pay for the cranes.

Bar Zero does a booming business

Bar Zero does a booming business

But in typical Caribbean fashion the second crane was a day late arriving, but that gave Bob a second day to sell beer and wine to the assembled masses (and they said he wasn’t a shrewed business man).

Finally the moment came and the cranes lifted the Oasis, swung it mostly over the pontoons and set it down.  Then the cranes had to repostion, reattach to the bracing, and finish putting the Oasis on the raft. The hardest part of the process was getting the building positioned properly, but Bob and the crane crews persevered.

Two cranes are finally in position and ready to hoist

Two cranes are finally in position and ready to hoist

The oasis is placed on the floating dock in two separate lifts.

The oasis is placed on the floating dock in two separate lifts.

But were will Bob go with the Oasis?  No one seems to know. Last we saw it was attached to the mangroves just north of the marina.

DINGHY CONCERT

Shortly after we arrived in Grenada Le Phare Bleu hosted another dinghy concert.  The concerts have moved from the middle of Clarks Court Bay to just off Le Phare Bleu Marina.  The concerts are free, but the new (to us) venue encourages people to spend a little time and money at Le Phare Blue and shortens their shuttle service considerably.  The only real downside is that Le Phare Bleu Bay is pretty rolly and makes it hard to dance in your dinghy.

Friends having fun at the dinghy concert

Ann and Hokun having fun at the dinghy concert

MUSEUM CONCERT and DRUMS

The museum in St. George’s continues to sponser jazz and poetry every first Friday of the month.  We went to the event in July and it was great, as is usually the case.  We also met a guy who plays local drums and he put us on the track that eventually led us to Monty, a drum instructor.  Soon Jackie organized drum lessons at Secret Harbour Marina that were so well received that she had to arrange for two sessions – one for new drummers and one for more experienced drummers.

Jazz and poetry night at the museum

Jazz and poetry night at the museum

One Friday night Monty had a gig at a hotel on the beach and we attended along with our friends Hal and Inga.  It was a low key event with Monty talking with guests and drumming.  He had a friend who was supposed to play with him, but didn’t show up, so he invited Jackie to join him.  They put on a nice show.

Jackie drums with Monty on the beach

Jackie drums with Monty on the beach

INSTALLING A MOORING

While we are not excited about moorings filling anchorages, they do make sense when you put them in spots between existing moorings that are too close together to allow anchoring.

Our friend George has some of the moorings in Mt. Hartman Bay.  He and his son squeezed in a couple more while we were there.  The mooring anchor is a large concrete block with loops of steel sticking out.  He makes them at his home and has a crane truck pick them up and bring them to the bay.  The block has four 55 gallon drums and many fenders attached so that it will float when launched by the crane.

The crane lowers the mooring into the water

The crane lowers the mooring into the water

Once launched, George and his son Aaron tow the mooring to the selected spot.

Towing the mooring to position

Towing the mooring to position

Once in place, George puts on his scuba gear, gets in the water, and carefully starts cutting away the floats one at a time.  The first to go are the 55 gallon drums.  The mooring sinks deeper as George cuts away each drum.  The drums pop to the surface in dramatic fashion.  As George releases the floats, Aaron collects them and loads them into the spare dinghy. Finally George cuts away the fenders and then brings the new mooring line to the surface.

Aaron collects the loose floats

Aaron collects the loose floats

It’s a low tech process, but it works quite well.

A COUPLE RANDOM PIX

An absurd form of transportation gets worse

An absurd form of transportation gets worse

Mt. Hartman Bay sunset

Mt. Hartman Bay sunset

 

NEXT: GOING TRANSATLANTIC

ST LUCIA AND SOUTH

July 12, 2014

posted from Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada

BIRDING ST. LUCIA

At the end of our last post we had put Dave on a bus to the airport at Vieux Fort.  It was great to have him along for the passages south from Antigua, but it was really nice to finally have the boat to ourselves.

St. Lucia hasn’t changed much.  One of the things you can always count on is the vegetable guy.  He has expanded his business by growing herbs on the top of his boat.

A visit from the fruit and vegetable boat

A visit from the fruit and vegetable boat

We relaxed a bit and looked around for some bird watching and hiking opportunities.  There is always the hike up to Fort Shirley at the north end of the anchorage.  You get a great view of Rodney Bay and there are always interesting birds.

Will he grow up to be a big shot?  A man of high caliber?

Will he grow up to be a big shot? A man of high caliber?

View of Rodney Bay from Fort Shirley

View of Rodney Bay from Fort Shirley

Bare eyed robin

Bare eyed robin

We also found that there are some nature preserves around the island.  The first we discovered was the Union Nature Trail just a couple short bus rides from Rodney Bay.  The trail is relatively short, but much of it is along the side of a ridge so you are close to the tops of the trees growing on the slope below and that’s where the birds hang out.

Adelaides Warbler

Adelaides Warbler

Lizard

Lizard

Peewee

St. Lucia Peewee

The next park we visited was the Millet Nature Trail.  We wanted to get there early, so we shared a taxi with Bruce on Wild Matilda for the forty five minute ride into the interior of the island.  There we met our guide who led us through the park and helped us find and identify various birds.  The goal was to see parrots and we did see a few, but they flew fairly high and far away. The one time they flew fairly close Bruce got a good picture of them, but Jackie and I were still working our way up the trail.

Freshwater crabs were all along the trail

Freshwater crabs were all along the trail

Mangrove Cuckoo

Mangrove Cuckoo

Saint Lucia parrots

Saint Lucia parrots (picture by Bruce)

The next big outing was to Maria Isle just outside of Vieux Fort.  Again we shared a taxi with Bruce and also Rowena and Richard on Galene for the ride to the other end of the island.  We met our guide at a small fishing harbor where he had arranged for a local pirogue to take us to the island.  At first look it appeared that we would have to traverse some serious surf, but our captain took us along shore behind the reef and then stayed in the lee of the island for the last stretch.  We hiked to a few vantage points and spent lots of time watching the birds soar off the cliffs in the high winds that constantly buffeted the island.

Our transportation to Maria Isle

Our transportation to Maria Isle

Caribbean Martins landing on the cliffs

Caribbean Martins flying near the cliffs

An inland marsh we visited after Maria Isle

An inland marsh we visited after Maria Isle

Birders in action

Birders in action

One evening we decided to sit up on the bow and relax.  I spotted something on the bow pulpit.  It was a brown boobie looking for a place to spend the night.  It got tired of the camera flash and eventually left.

Why go on bird watching hikes when they land on your boat?

Why go on bird watching hikes when they land on your boat?

We later met some people who had the same thing happen and thought it was pretty cool until the next morning when they discovered the messy bird droppings.

MARIGOT BAY

We saw some favorable weather coming and decided to head south.  The next island is St. Vincent.  We have heard enough about people being hassled by boat boys, problems with customs, and boat break-ins that we have always skipped St. Vincent.  This makes for a long trip, so we moved about eight miles south to Marigot Bay.  That brings the trip down to about sixty miles.

Marigot is essentially two small bays with a relatively narrow passage between them.  The holding and private moorings in the outer bay are pretty sketchy so we picked up marina mooring in the inner harbor.  That gives us access to the marina facilities (the showers).  A small boat came by advertising a restaurant that features live jazz in the evenings.  We caught a water taxi there after dinner and listened to a really great jazz pianist.

BEQUIA

We were off at first light the next morning.  We plan our passages at five knots so we were looking at a possible twelve hour trip and we wanted to be anchored before dark.  The winds were favorable and currents not bad.  We even sailed most of the way down the lee side of St. Vincent and kept moving well enough that we were anchored in Bequia well before dark.

We dodge some squalls on the way to Bequia

We dodge some squalls on the way to Bequia

We like Bequia because the town is small and quaint with a couple nice beaches and lots of restaurants.  There is a beach where you can find lots of sea glass and some nice snorkeling near where we anchor.

Yellow Tube Sponges

Yellow Tube Sponges

Sand Diver

Sand Diver

Trumpet fish

Trumpet fish

Smooth Trunkfish

Smooth Trunkfish

Sharp tail Eel

Sharp tail Eel

Banded Butterfly fish

Banded Butterfly fish

Bearded Fireworms and remains of a sea urchin

Bearded Fireworms and remains of a sea urchin

 

Bequia is known for model boat builders and we stopped at one of the shops to take a look.  They build some very nice, but very expensive models.

Boats in various stages of completion at the model building shop

Boats in various stages of completion at the model building shop

Just a few of the many beautiful model boats

Just a few of the many beautiful model boats

Bequia also has an interesting variety full size boats built locally.

Locally built racing sailboats

Locally built racing sailboats

Many island beaches are a study in interesting watercraft

Many island beaches are a study in interesting watercraft

Local workboats

Local workboats

The second day in Bequia we stopped at a restaurant/beach bar at the far end of the beach where we were anchored.  They had a bunch of temporary tables and seats set up on the beach.  We soon found out that a French sailing rally of thirty five boats was due in the next day.  Sure enough, early in the afternoon boats began pouring into the bay.  Now we know how the English commanders on these islands felt when the French fleet appeared on the horizon.

With that many boats coming in we knew that everyone would anchor close and they certainly did.  I have to admit, though, that they generally did a good job of fitting their boats into some pretty small spaces.  They had their party at the restaurant and were back on their boats relatively early.  Then at dawn the next morning they pulled there anchors up and headed out.

MAYREAU

We left Bequia for the Grenadine Islands – the group of islands between St. Vincent and Carriacou.  The trip is short, so we got a leisurely start rather than our usual crack of dawn departures.  We had talked about going to Tobago Cays and spending a couple days, but once we got out there we started discussing other options including checking out at Union Island and going to Carriacou.  We discarded this idea because of our relatively late start and light winds that kept our speed down.  We finally decided to go to Saline Bay, Mayreau.

We have been taking pictures of birds while sailing as long as it isn’t too rough.  We spotted these birds along the way and got some shots.  Jackie posted the pictures on Birding Aboard.  Here is her post:

Sailing from Bequia south we kept seeing these white tailed birds, often skimming the water, barely visible as the seemingly flew between the waves. We finally snapped an identifiable picture just north of Mayreau.  Unfortunately it was difficult to get a really good picture, the birds are flying fast, and we are sailing fast.

White morph of red-footed boobie

Dark morph of the white-tailed red-footed booby

More of the rare boobys

More of the rare boobys

Here is the response she got:

Nice! These are white-tailed dark morph Red-footed Booby. This species is among the most polymorphic seabirds with respect to plumage color.

Three main adult plumage types are recognized (brown or dark, white-tailed brown and white morph) with many intergrades such as white-headed and white-tailed brown, black-tailed white morph and golden white morph to add to the confusion. The latter two species are restricted in range as they may only breed on the Galapagos and Christmas Island.

Great documentation

I think it’s’ pretty cool that Jackie found some birds not known to frequent this part of the world!

We anchored in Saline Bay, Mayreau.  We had been rocked badly by a ferry last time we were in here, so we anchored well away from the path to the dock.  We had plenty of time so we did some exploring and found some fairly good snorkeling at the south end of the bay.

Blue Tang juvenile (l) Bluehead juvenile (r)

Blue Tang juvenile (yellow fish on left) Bluehead juvenile (yellow stripe on right)

The next morning we sailed the few miles to Clifton, Union Island and checked out of St. Vincent.  This is always an interesting process because we don’t trust the local moorings and we always seem to have trouble finding a good spot to anchor.  This time was no exception, so I stayed on the boat in case we dragged and Jackie took the dinghy in to check out.  She found customs in town, but then she had to go to the airport to clear out with immigration.

CARRIACOU

The next stop was Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, an easy sail from Union Island.  We used to have to anchor at Hillsborough to clear in and then sail around to Tyrrel Bay, but there is now a Customs and Immigration office in Tyrrel Bay.

Approaching Carriacou

Approaching Carriacou

Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou

Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou

We met up with our friends Bob and Debbie on Chimayo, who we hadn’t seen since they were in Antigua in 2013.  Debbie told Jackie about  drum lessons given on the beach each day by a local guy named Bongo (aka Zulu).  She tried it out and liked it and showed quite an aptitude for traditional drumming, so yes, we now have a drum on board.

Drum lessons on the beach

Drum lessons on the beach

 

Jackie checks out a drum

Jackie checks out a drum

One of our favorite things to do in Carriacou is to take a bus most of the way up the west side of the island and then walk around the north side to Windward on the northeast side.  We started walking the dirt road and a fellow in an old Land Rover stopped to say hello.  He was Dario, from KIDO, a wildlife conservation and wildlife education group.  He took us to their facility – a modest but beautiful home converted for group education.  They are involved heavily in protecting and rescuing sea turtles.

KIDO conservation group

KIDO conservation group

We also visited the bird sanctuary at Petit Carenage and Windward, where they make boats on the beach.  We didn’t see much in the way of interesting birds, but we did get a good view of some wrecks off the north coast and some interesting things on the trail.

Humming bird

Humming bird

Carriacou crab

Carriacou crab

Cow in mangroves

Cow in mangroves

Boat being built on beach

Boat being built on beach in Windward, Carriacou

Boat being battered on beach

Boat being battered on beach

NC HURRICANES

This item chronologically belongs in the next post, but it’s best to cover it now.  We left Antigua and headed south for Grenada without a real schedule.  The only driving concern is that our insurance doesn’t cover us for named storms during hurricane season unless we are below 13 degrees latitude – the southern end of the harbor in Bequia.  We like to stop and enjoy the islands as we go, which causes us to run behind schedule.  This isn’t a big worry because we can do an overnight sail and get out of the hurricane box.  That doesn’t guarantee that we will avoid a storm, it just means we are insured.

 

Sailing from St. Lucia to Carriacou

Sailing from St. Lucia to Carriacou

So we are where we need to be, but we do have a little history with hurricanes since we started this trip.  When we headed south in 2009 we spent a few days in Southport, NC waiting for the rainy edge of Hurricane Ida to clear out.  In 2011 we had Compass Rose in Oriental, NC and Hurricane Irene came right over us.  Last year we built a house near Wilmington, NC and guess what?  Hurricane Arthur just made a close pass.  Do you see something in common here?  NC.

 

Hurricane Arthur visits North Carolina

Hurricane Arthur visits North Carolina. Our house is by the red arrow

 

 

Next: Back home in Grenada

MORE SOUTHBOUND, MORE FUN

May 31, 2014

posted from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

SOUTH TO DOMINICA

We finally got Compass Rose back together and sailed for Portsmouth, Dominica, some twenty miles to the south.  We had a good wind angle and relatively mild seas.  The trip went well and we arrived in Dominica without incident – quite a relief after our sail to Les Saintes.  One of the River Guides met us as we approached the bay and led us to a nice sandy spot to drop the anchor.

We have always liked Dominica, but we have not spent much time there since our first visit in 2010.  We arranged for a tour of the northern part of the island.  Our driver, Winston, was pretty knowledgeable about the island’s history.  We stopped just outside of Portsmouth to visit an agricultural exhibition where we saw a lot of interesting plants, fruits and vegetables.

Winston (left) took us to an agricultural exhibition

Winston (left) took us to an agricultural exhibition

Some other notable sites he took us to were the Emerald Pool, and the Kalinago reservation.

Jackie at the emerald pool

Jackie at the emerald pool

The Kalinago, better known as the Caribs, have a reservation on Dominica’s east coast.  Part of it is set up as historical site where you can see aspects of traditional Kalinago life.

Kalinago traditional building made with modern materials

Kalinago traditional building made with modern materials

Traditional Kalinago boat

Traditional Kalinago boat

Heads DSC_1995

One sculpture for each of the elected chiefs

We also saw some beautiful views of Dominica.

Dominica's coastline

Dominica’s coastline

Dominica's mountains

Dominica’s mountains

And not to be forgotten, there was the restaurant where we had lunch while listening to Frank Sinatra’s greatest hits.

The next day we dinghied to Cabrits Park and walked around Fort Shirley.  The lower part of the fort is nicely restored and there are many ruins of old buildings and gun emplacements in the hills.

View of Prince Rupert Bay from Fort Shirley

View of Prince Rupert Bay from Fort Shirley

We also saw some crabs and a snake as we walked through the woods.

 

Dead land crab

Land crab was somebody’s lunch

The only snake we have seen since we sailed south

The only snake we have seen since we sailed south

Hermit crab

One of many hermit crabs in the park

 

Just another rainbow in Portsmouth

Just another rainbow in Portsmouth

We looked ahead to the weather and decided to do the eighteen mile run to Roseau, the biggest city in Dominica and the jumping off point for the crossing to Martinique.  It was an easy trip.  We sailed, motored, and motorsailed as the wind dictated. We tried to raise Sea Cat on the radio so we could take one of his moorings, but he never answered.  We picked up a mooring and figured that the owner would eventually stop by to collect the fee.  No one ever did, but the area is pretty rolly so we rocked back and forth most of the night.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

The next morning we motored out of Roseau.  The wind started to fill in wrapping around the island and coming north.  We worked out way out to get a sailing angle and found plenty of breeze.  We found ourselves riding a south flowing current and picking up at least an extra knot over the bottom.  The current ran headlong into the waves that were building on the shallows at the south end of the island, so the seas got lumpy and confused.

Compass Rose crashed along under reefed main at more than eight knots over ground.  The seas settled a little as we got away from land and the wind settled in to a good angle.  Just when it looked like we would have a fast, albeit wet trip, we heard a familiar noise and watched the bow sprit pop up and the jib slacken.

We had been through this drill before.  We dropped sails, stabilized the rig with spare halyards, and started motoring back against the strong current and through the confused waves.  I looked over the bow and saw that the bracket that holds the lower end of the bobstay had failed.

All spring Jackie and I had talked about spending more time in Dominica this year, but this wasn’t what we had in mind.

Pancho, a boatboy greeted us as we arrived back in Roseau and took us to one of his moorings near the Anchorage Hotel.  We told him about the problem and he recommended a welder and could arrange for transportation to the welding shop.

Dave and I got to work getting the bracket off.  I replaced the bolts that hold the bracket on while we were in the boatyard so I knew the process.  First we had to get all the chain out of the anchor locker so we could get to the bolts.  Dave laid down in the vee berth and got a wrench on the nuts while I sat in the dinghy holding onto the boat in the swell with one hand while unscrewing the bolt with the other.  The lower bolt hole is just a couple inches above the waterline, so I had to quickly put some caulk in the hole and shove the bolt back in to keep the water out.

Spreading 190 feet of chain on deck

Spreading 190 feet of chain on deck

Broken bobstay bracket

Broken bobstay bracket

The crack in the bow gets bigger

The crack in the bow gets bigger from the stress of holding the rig up without the bobstay

ISLAND TOUR II

We contact Pancho and talk to him about getting a ride to the welding shop.  The price is outrageous.  The he suggests we take a half day tour of the southern part of the island that includes dropping the part off at the welding shop and picking it up at the end of the tour.  The price is reasonable for a half day tour and he throws in the mooring rental for free.  We go for it.

Pancho picks us up early the next morning and takes us to shore where we meet Kelvin (sp?) our driver.  He takes us through town to the weld shop where I discuss the job with the welder.  He doesn’t have stock thick enough to replicate the part, but he will weld it back together and add reinforcements.  We agree to a price – not cheap, but we need the part and it has to be strong.

We hop in the van and head off into the hills of southern Dominica.  Our first stop is Titou Gorge.  There were two waterfalls separated by a very narrow gorge.  A small dam was constructed at the top of the second falls and the water diverted through a wooden pipeline – think of a very long barrel – to a hydropower plant.

Wooden pipeline diverts water to power plant

Wooden pipeline diverts water to power plant

The pool created backs up through the gorge to the base of the upper waterfall.  We swam in the water impoundment – it’s always a novelty for us to swim in fresh water.  But the coolest part was to swim into the gorge.  It is very narrow and has high walls so it feels like a cave.

Looking into Titou Gorge

Looking into Titou Gorge

We ended the swim by sitting under a small waterfall that comes from a hot spring.

 

Taking a warm spring shower

Taking a warm spring shower

Our next stop was Trafalgar Falls.  This is actually two waterfalls next to each other, and despite their proximity, they have separate water sources.  The hike down to the falls was easy and quite nice and the view of the falls was stunning.

From there we went back to the welding shop to pick up the part.  The welder had found a discarded piece of metal that was the right size, cut off the broken piece and welded in the new piece.  It was a much better fix and I was much happier with the solution despite the higher price tag.

We head back to the boat stopping at the fish market for some fresh tuna and mahi mahi, and then dropping Jackie off at the vegetable market so she could shop and then take a bus back to the boat.

Dave and I put the boat back together.  It’s a lot of fun hanging onto a bouncing dinghy while trying to tighten bolts and caulk the fitting.  The wrench and caulking gun spend more time underwater than above, but we managed.   The caulking looked perfect when we left the boat yard – now it looks like someone closed their eyes and put it on with a spatula.  Little Rosie is once more whole and ready.

MARTINIQUE BOUND

Once again we set out for St. Pierre, Martinique, some thirty five miles away.  The wind and waves are a bit milder, although it’s still windy and bumpy.  After two rigging failures so recently, I don’t think any of us really breathe easily until we drop anchor.

St. Pierre is a little town along the edge of the sea.  In the early 1900s it was considered the “Paris of the Caribbean”.  Then a volcano wiped out the town killing all but two people.  Some buildings use walls that survived the volcano, so there is a mix of building style in some spots.

We arrived too late to check in, but figured we could do rest and do it the next day.  The next day is my birthday.  It’s also Emancipation Day and there is a small carnival on the waterfront.  We dinghied in only to find that no one is allowed to tie up to the town dock or land a dinghy on the beach within 300 meters of the dock.  Eventually some other cruisers land their dinghies on the beach near us and the land owners look OK with it, so we do the same.  We visit the carnival, but it is small and few people are there in the heat of mid-afternoon.

We went back to the boat and spot some fishermen landing their boat by the beach.  They set up a portable fish cleaning table and proceed to unload a yellow fin tuna that is almost as big as the boat.  The boat in the picture is just the tender they use to get to their mooring, but the fishing boat wasn’t all that much bigger than the fish.

This was one big tuna!

This was one big tuna!

That evening the activity in town began to heat up.  We were already tucked in on the boat, so we stayed put, but we had a ringside seat for the great fireworks display on the waterfront.

CHEEKI RAFIKI

I’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with this topic, but I finally decided to cover it about the time we became aware of it. We heard that a boat was lost in the Atlantic.  Cheeki Rafiki, a Beneteau 40.7 that competed in Antigua Sailing Week this year and won their class, was lost with all hands.  She was returning to the UK and the crew called in that she was taking on water.  Evidently she lost her keel and capsized.  The US Navy reports that there is no sign of life on board and that the life raft was not deployed.  It is now pretty certain that the four crew, Paul Gosling, James Male, Steve Warren, and Andrew Bridge, could not have survived this long in the sea.

Cheeki Rafiki winning her class at Antigua Sailing Week (photo by Tim Wright)

Cheeki Rafiki winning her class at Antigua Sailing Week (photo by Tim Wright)

Capsized hull missing keel

Capsized hull missing keel

While we did not know the crew, we competed in the same regatta with them.  In light of the issues we have had recently this strikes close to home.  Things don’t always go as planned.

GRAND ANSE d’ ARLET

The next day we ran down the coast to Grand Anse d’Arlet, another little vacation town.  We would be in the lee of the island and the wind and waves should be relatively mellow.  We expected a little jump in the wind as we passed the mouth of the bay at Fort De France.  We left St. Pierre, hoisted sail, and started motorsailing and then sailing down the coast.  The wind blew up into the high teens and twenties and stayed there all the way to Grand Anse d’Arlet.  It was not the semi-lazy trip we expected.

We motored into the bay and found that the planned moorings were now a fact.  We had always anchored towards the south side of the bay near the town dock, but the only moorings available were on the north side of the bay.  It turned out this was the rolly part.

We went into town and walked around and eventually had dinner in a nice little resort/restaurant on the beach.

The next morning Jackie took the dinghy and scouted the southern moorings, but none were available.  We did see a number of boats anchored inside the edge and just outside the mooring field.  We dropped our mooring and anchored just outside the mooring field near the middle of the bay.  It was much calmer there.

We went snorkeling that afternoon on the south side of the bay.  It was a pleasant surprise.  There was a lot of live coral and quite a variety of fish.  I was sorry I didn’t take the camera.

SAINT LUCIA

The weather looked good the next day and we made the twenty seven mile passage to St Lucia.  Martinique is the eastern-most of the islands we frequent, so you would think we would get a break on wind direction when sailing south to St. Lucia.  This is not the case in that we are going from the wide part of Martinique to the narrow part of St. Lucia and have to make easting the whole way.  The trip was a little less windy and rough than a lot have been this year, but the wind direction and westward setting current prevented us from sailing the rhumbline during the first part of the trip.  Luckily we got a little lift from the wind and the current moderated some as we neared St. Lucia.  We made landfall just south of the anchorage and tacked into the Rodney Bay.

Modern navigation

Modern navigation

 

Dave and I take turns steering

Dave and I take turns steering

We tried to anchor south of the channel off Reduit Beach, but found poor holding and our chain went under a couple large rocks.  We moved north of the channel off Gros Islet and sunk the anchor in nicely.   We got ourselves checked in and they told us we didn’t have to do anything special to get Dave off our crew list.

It has been great having Dave on board.  He is an easy guest and a great help when sailing – especially when things go wrong.

Which brings us to the end of this phase of our cruise.  Dave was able to arrange a flight out of the main airport near Vieux Fort at the other end of the island.  The Vieux Fort anchorage has a poor reputation for security and is an upwind slog once you round the bottom of the island, so we check options for getting Dave to the airport from Rodney Bay.  Taxi fare is about $80 US.  The bus to Castries is $2.50 EC (less than a dollar US) and the bus from there to the airport is about another $5.00 EC.  This is a no-brainer.

We get up early and catch the bus with Dave.  This is his first real experience on a Caribbean bus.  We have taken the bus to Castries and from there to Soufriere, so we know that there is no central bus terminal – each bus route has its own little terminal (sometimes just a side street).  We ask directions and start our trek which eventually takes us to the other side of town.

We find the buses to Vieux Fort, verify that it will stop at the airport, and put Dave aboard.  He will be on his own for the rest of the trip.  Now we know how parents feel the first time they put their kids on the school bus.  We restrain ourselves from pinning a note on his shirt telling where he needs to go.  The bus pulls out, we wave, Dave is gone.

 

We put Dave on the bus to Vieux Fort

We put Dave on the bus to Vieux Fort

For the first time in about five weeks Jackie and I are alone on the boat.

Next: More St. Lucia

SOUTHBOUND

May 18, 2014

posted from Portsmouth, Dominica

Usually there is more time between posts but I’m caught up and there is a relatively long story to tell, so here goes…

GUADELOUPE BOUND

The racing was over, all the guests had left except Dave, Compass Rose was ready for sea.  It was time to leave Antigua and begin sailing south.

The first hop was from Falmouth Harbour, Antigua to Deshais, Guadeloupe.  The trip is a little over forty miles almost due south.  We kept going back and forth over which day to go to get the best weather.  We had actually cleared out stating our intention to go the following day, but when we got back to the boat we realized we had no need to stay.

We did the final bits to ready Compass Rose for sea, raised the anchor, and hoisted sails.  We got out of Falmouth Harbour and found the wind to be a bit lighter than we had expected, but we pressed on.  It eventually filled in, but we had to sail pretty high to keep from being pushed off course by the prevailing current and our speed was less than we hoped for.  Dave was at the helm and stayed there keeping us on the wind – a bit difficult in light wind.

 

Dave at the helm

Dave at the helm

The helming paid off by putting us in a good position to take advantage of a favorable wind shift towards the end of the sail.  Unfortunately the late start and the low wind speed caused us to come into Deshais after dark for the second time this year.  We managed to find a good spot in the anchorage, run up the yellow flag, and settle in for the night.

MARCHING INTO LES SAINTES

We got up the next morning, had a leisurely breakfast, and headed south for Les Saintes, a group of islands just south of Guadeloupe.  The trip took us down the leeward side of the island, which can be an interesting trip because the high mountains effect the wind.  We have actually sailed at another boat that was on the same tack as us, so the wind was hitting each of us from opposite directions.  We sailed, motored, and motor sailed as needed to reach the south end of Guadeloupe.

As we cleared the island, the wind and waves settled in from just south of east.  We couldn’t sail southeast to get directly to Les Saintes so we just did the best we could and planned to tack back in the lee of the islands.

Rosie rolled along well under autopilot, but I took the helm when we decided to tack.  Jackie released one sheet and Dave hauled in the other while I steered us through the wind.  We had just settled in on the other tack with the boat sailing nicely When a noise came from the front and the duckbill popped up.

(The duckbill is a piece of wood about three feet long that sticks out in front of the boat like a small bow sprit.  The forestay attaches to it and holds the jib and keeps the mast from falling over backwards.)

This was very bad.  If the duckbill let go the main mast would fall down.  I got the boat into the wind to take the load out of the sails and started the motor while Dave and Jackie rolled in the jib.  Jackie took over on the helm while Dave and I got the main sail down and stabilized the mast to the front of the boat with a spare halyard.  We then motored slowly into the wind and waves and picked up a mooring off Terre de Haute, the main town in Les Saintes.

It turned out that the wire in the bobstay broke.  This is a heavy wire that holds the duckbill down, thus counteracting the force of the forestay.  We were stranded in Les Saintes until we could replace this part.

The bobstay turnbuckle hangs down, the rest of the bobstay is in the water at the front of the boat

The bobstay turnbuckle hangs down, the rest of the bobstay is in the water at the front of the boat

IMG_0631

The duckbill has pulled up from the front of the boat

The old bobstay

The old bobstay

We began trying to track down someone who could make a new bobstay for us.  Remember that this is a French island – most people do not speak English.  This would require the proper fittings and a machine to swage the wire into the fittings.  We found a sailmaker on the island who thought he might be able to point us in the right direction, but when he saw the parts he realized no one on the island had tools big enough for what we needed.  He recommended a company in Pointe a Pitre on the Guadeloupe mainland.  We tried contacting them, but had no luck.  We did, however contact another rigger there who could make a new bobstay while we waited.

POINTE A PITRE ODESSEY

The adventure begins.  We have to figure out how to take the ferry to Trois Rivieres, rent a car and drive to Pointe a Pitre, have the part made, and return.  We get some info and early the next morning we catch the 6:45 AM ferry for the ride to Trois Rivieres.   The sailmaker assured us that there were two rental car companies on the dock in Trois rivieres, but one had no cars left and the woman at the other only spoke French.  We never figured out whether she was out of cars or just wouldn’t try to rent a car when the deal couldn’t be completed in a common language.

We talked to someone from the ferry company and he told us where we could catch a bus.  It was a ten minute walk up a steep hill to the next town.  Once there we happened upon a woman who spoke no English, but was going to Pointe a Pitre – just follow her. The bus comes and we get on.  We ride a short distance, get off, and run for another bus.  Our leader gets on and gets right back off.  The bus is a local, not an express.  We wait a few minutes and catch the express to Pointe a Pitre.

We’ve been to Pointe a Pitre before, so the rest is easy.  We catch a taxi to the marina, find the rigger and show him what we need.  He can make it – be back at 12:30.  We head for the chandlery and grocery stores to get some supplies, then grab some lunch.  We return about 12:15 and find the rigger starting to drive his wife to the airport.  We misunderstood the time.  He gives us the part, we pay him, and we head for downtown Pointe a Pitre.

We don’t find a taxi, so we get on a local bus.  Unfortunately the bus driver is going off shift and we have to wait for the next driver.  Finally the bus takes us downtown and we walk to the main bus terminal.  We know we need a bus that goes beyond Trois Rivieres and after asking around another bus driver directs us to the lane for that bus.  The bus arrives and we show the note with our destination to the bus driver.  He says oui and off we go.

We begin to realize something is not right.  The bus is making a lot more stops than it did in the morning.  We are on the local!  Our tickets say the ferry leaves at 3:45, the bus is moving slow, the clock is moving fast, and it’s a long swim from Trois Rivieres to Les Saintes.

We are sweating a lot more than usual for a warm Caribbean afternoon.

The bus finally drops us off at our stop, but we still have to get a local bus.  We wait.  Jackie starts hitchhiking.  The bus comes and the driver seems to understand where we need to go.  The street through town is one way, so the driver has to drop us off a few hundred yards from where we were picked up in the morning.  We start walking down the hill with time to spare.

We come to a little snackette where we can see the ferry dock.  We decide we have enough time to split two beers among the three of us before we have to board the ferry.  The cold beer tastes especially good after the fast hike down the hill.  We finish the beer and walk to the dock.

There is no ferry.  We had originally been told that the ferry left at 4:45, but our tickets said 3:45.  People are slowly wandering in to the area and some are sitting down and placing orders at another snackette next to the dock.  We finally join them. Dave and I have more cold beers.  Jackie has to find out what the tall green drinks are on many other tables.  After playing 20 questions and pointing at a lot of glasses on tables she finds it’s cold Crème de Menthe and water.  Very refreshing.

We board the ferry relaxed and refreshed.  We grab the three driest (a relative term) seats on the open upper deck and enjoy the view as we speed back to Les Saintes.

Jackie is happy to be on the ferry in Trois Rivieres

Jackie is happy to be on the ferry in Trois Rivieres

Less than seasoned travelers at the beginning of the ride are well salted by the end

Less than seasoned travelers at the beginning of the ride are well salted by the end

Part of the mooring field at Terre de Haute

Part of the mooring field at Terre de Haute

The next day is boatwork and wash day.  Jackie and Sherpa Dave take the laundry in while I start working on Compass Rose.  The fuel filter needs changing, batteries need topping up, and I install a new bilge pump float switch.  Dave and Jackie return and we install the new bobstay and put new backing washers behind the bolts that hold on the duckbill.  Then we tighten all the rigging that we loosened to get the duckbill in place.  Little Rosie is once again ready.

Compass Rose moored near the "Ship House"

Compass Rose moored near the “Ship House”

It wasn’t all work in Les Saintes.  We hiked around a little and ate French food.  We visited with Bruce and Carol on Wild Matilda and kept bumping into Rob and Ellen on Miclo III, and Anna and Hakan on Unicorn, and a few others.  The Triskell Cup Regatta passed through and we got to say hello (but not much more) to Steve on Hotel California Too.  And to cap things off, the French Navy rotated two ships through just as we were leaving.

We have to sail past a French aircraft carrier on the way out of Les Saintes

We have to sail past a French aircraft carrier on the way out of Les Saintes

We are off to Dominica.

Next: The land of Parrots and Rainbows.