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Preparing to Sail North

April 20, 2020

posted from Leland, NC, April 2020

Excuse our dust
If you are following our blog you may be getting notices that some old pages are being re-published. We had a technical problem that caused many of the pictures to get un-linked from their spots in the posts, so we are going back through and fixing the links.

But after a long lapse, this post is NEW!


After a long absence, we arrived in Grenada late after an easy 4 flight trip from NC.  Oddly enough it seems like the more planes you fly on the less it costs.  It was my birthday so Eric bought me a bottle of El Dorado 12 year old rum from the duty free shop in Trinidad, our last stop before Grenada. The weather was warm and calm when we arrived, so we celebrated my birthday late at night sitting on the bow under the starlit sky, sipping rum.

Day 2 reality hit. Right after breakfast our local canvasmaker came by to fit our new canvas. It’s looking good! Grocery shopping had to be a priority as we could not live on rum alone. While contemplating that, Eric noticed a puddle of gear oil on the deck under the already somewhat compromised outboard. George of Survival Anchorage lent us a dinghy but the outboard was a little challenging for me to start, Eric of course had no problem.

Since Eric was headed to Port Louis on Saturday to practice for race week next week, I would be left onboard with a no way off. So, we are now the proud owners of a Tohatsu 9.8 outboard – or as one of our friends pronounced it “Too Hot Sue”. We ended the day with a fun night at Nimrods, Eric jamming on the sax and me enjoying the music while hanging out with friends.

Eric, Tall Paul, and Gary back up Norman playing at Country Dave’s Sundowner Session at Nimrod’s Rum Shop

Day 3 We woke to find no wind and very calm seas- a good day to put the sails on, install the repaired SSB, and stitch patches on the sail covers. We later noodled in the bay with Danny and Carolyn from Mrs. Desilia and finally rested catching up on some reading.


Putting on the main sail


I’ve been playing in a couple of weekly jams in Grenada, but when I was there last Fall, I started going to a very small, informal evening jam on Hog Island.  The first time I showed up there were three other musicians: Tom on guitar & pennywhistle, and Jack and Michael both on fiddles.  They started playing Celtic music which was a real challenge for me on sax.  They eventually switched into some blues and I fit right in.  But in self-defense, I tried out Tom’s pennywhistles.  Then I got a couple for Christmas.  Soon I was joining in at the jams on songs that didn’t lend themselves to the sax.

Playing the pennywhistle at Taffy’s jam.


Then we were into sailing week.  Eric raced on Jaguar while I alternated between going to the beach and working with the canvasmaker to move our project toward completion.  The new bimini and dodger came out great.

One day my friend Aleida and I went to Prickly Point to watch the races.  Here is a drone video of the race.  Aleida and I are standing on the cliff, Jaguar is the blue boat.

The race organizers always fiddle with the classes to best split the entries, but in an unusual move they combined three classes putting Jaguar in with a lot of pure race boats.  Jaguar is usually very competitive in her class, but was at a big disadvantage to boats from other classes.  The final results were a bit disappointing, but the racing was fun.

Jaguar racing – blue boat with yellow spinnaker


For the past 10 years Grenada has been our second home.  But the time had come to leave and seek out new adventures.  We will really miss this beautiful country, its friendly people and the friends we leave behind.  We spent five weeks preparing Compass Rose as well as ourselves for the journey.  As is so typical with boats, we fix one problem and another rears its head, as if Grenada does not want to let us go.

Compass Rose gets fresh bottom paint

Getting the rig checked

Painting the main saloon

Compass Rose moving through the boat yard on the way to being launched

But it wasn’t all work.  We went birdwatching, and have spent time with friends, played music, swam at the world’s most beautiful beaches, celebrated birthdays, and saying good-bye.


We left Grenada and headed north to Carriacou around Feb 26 – our first time our boat was out in the open ocean in about three years.  The trip was about forty miles from where we were anchored in Clarkes Court Bay to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou.  It starts with a motor sail south around the reefs, then downwind with waves pushing us around a bit until we clear Point Saline at the southeast corner of the island.  We turned north and got to sail north past Grand Anse beach and St. George under reefed main.  From there we motor north and even a bit east until we get a wind angle to sail to Carriacou.

Clarkes Court Bay, Grenada, to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou

The problem with going north in the Windward Islands in winter is that the wind usually has a northerly component and you are hard on the wind between Grenada and Carriacou.  We managed to pick a day when the wind angle was such that we could make the rhumbline to Tyrell Bay while maintaining good speed.  Our ancient autopilot wasn’t cooperating so we hand steered the whole trip.


It was good to be in Carriacou again.  Tyrell Bay is the only real cruiser anchorage and most of what you need (and can get) is available in a walk of a couple minutes from the beach or dinghy dock.  The bus into the big city is $3.50 EC (about $1.30 US).

On Sunday, Mar 1, we watched the launch of a 65 wooden boat that was built on the beach in Windward, on the NE part of the island.  Little by little they chop away the supports on one side of the boat (people are pushing on it from the other side) and slowly tip the boat until the keel and curve of the bilge rest on pipes that role on planks and push/pull the boat into the water.  It took all day (you don’t want the party to end too soon) and was amazing to watch.

65 ft. wooden workboat ready for launch

The entire day is a combination of party and problem solving.

One fellow directs the others as they gradually chop away at the bottom of the supports.  The boat leans farther and farther until…..


….the boat hull lays on the rollers.

Finally after a lot of pushing with a backhoe, adjusting of rollers, and pulling with a boat in the harbor the boat launches.

The next day we sailed to Bequia (St Vincent).  The winds were higher and more on the nose than predicted, and the waves were confused and contrary.  We were getting pushed so far off the rhumbline that we tacked and motor sailed east behind Canouan to get back some easting.  Once we got out from behind Canouan we were able to maintain the course we needed.  It was a tough day, but we made it.

Our course from Carraicou to Bequia


Bequia has always been one of our favorite places.  It has a small town along the harbor with lots of shops and restaurants.  Lots of good food, yacht services, and friends.  If you can’t find what you need within a five minute walk of one of the dinghy docks, you probably can’t get it.  There are two beautiful beaches separated by a cliff and some rocks and reef.  You can anchor close enough to swim over and do some snorkeling.

There is also a lot of good music – especially when you consider how small the island really is.  This is the winter hangout of Stan and Cora, a.k.a., Ruff Enuff, one of our favorite acts from Grenada.

The music scene includes an excellent weekly jam session.  Elfic, a local guy (think a younger Morgan Freeman playing guitar) operates Sailors Café and hosts the jam.  The house band is all locals and includes a drummer, keyboard, 2-3 guitars, a uke, and a steel drum.  Other cruisers joined in on a uke, guitars, and trombone.  We played everything – rock, blues, jazz, reggae, and country.  Reggae sax gets interesting.

We got to stay in Bequia for over a week because we imported a part for our uncooperative autopilot.


This part is a bit long, so you might want to skip it, but it gives a little insight into the experience of shipping things to an island.

I had done some testing of the autopilot while anchored in Carriacou and it seemed to be OK, so I chalked the problem up to operator error.  It turns out my only error was thinking it was OK.  Once in Bequia I found some diagnostic tests online and decided that the autopilot control unit was bad.  Our autopilot is ancient and the company went out of business on Jan 15, 2020.  I found a used control unit on eBay offered by a marine consignment store in CA.

 I called the vendor and we worked out a price and delivery options – he really wanted to send it via USPS Priority Mail Express International.  Because the item was offered through eBay I had to log on to eBay and buy the part. No matter what I did, eBay used our home address to calculate the shipping via UPS (not USPS), and wouldn’t process the order if I changed it.  The vendor manually set the shipping cost and told me not to worry about it saying UPS because he would personally mail the package-which he did.

USPS consigned the package to FedEx for delivery from mainland US to Bequia.  We tried tracking it though USPS and FedEx, but neither would accept the tracking number.  Luckily before placing the order we talked to a broker to help us get the part through customs and she finally figured out how to track it.   There was a lot of back and forth between us and the vendor via phone which got a bit painful when I ran out of time on my prepaid phone.  In three visits to the cell company office:

1) I added time to my phone,
2) their system was not working and they couldn’t add time to phones,
3) they couldn’t add time to my phone because it used a Grenada sim card rather than a St. Vincent card.

Then on the day we thought the part would finally arrive our broker was not in the office.  The person who was there suggested we talk to the local post office.

The post office is in the same building with Customs and Immigration, so we knew where to find it.  The checked and didn’t have it.  They talked to Customs (essentially the next window over) and they didn’t have it either.  They suggested that it would come in that afternoon on the boat from St, Vincent.

We left and got some lunch and then while walking by the shops along the waterfront road we saw some friends who asked about our part.  We sat down and began to tell them the story when the man at then next table interrupted us and asked if we were Compass Rose. He told us that FedEx had our paperwork, then he got up and left.  A couple minutes later he returned and repeated that FedEx had our paperwork.

We walked a few doors down to FedEx and yes they had our paperwork.  Sign here and head to Customs.  And now that Customs knew what they were looking for they found our package.  We signed some paperwork, paid the duty, and had our part.


Having received the part and knowing it would only take a few minutes to install the part we decided to take advantage of a good weather window to sail to St. Lucia the next day, so we checked out and went back to the boat to install the part.

It didn’t work.

The die was cast – we sailed the next day.

By this time we were getting a little concerned about the virus but decided to continue on and keep an eye on the news.  We sailed to St. Lucia on Mar 13.  We bypass St Vincent so it’s a long trip – about seventy miles to Rodney Bay at the north end of the island.  We decided to cut about fifteen miles off the day’s sail by running up the yellow flag and taking a mooring at the Pitons (two incredible pointy mountains) at the south end of St. Lucia. It gave us a chance to relax after all the craziness of the last week.

Bequia to St Lucia. The red circle is the Pitons.

Approaching the Pitons

A little late afternoon improv

The next day we motored the fifteen miles up to Rodney Bay on the NW corner of the island and officially checked in.  This was where we encountered out first health screening.

Rodney Bay has a lot of cruiser resources within an easy walk of one of the two main dinghy docks.  We were also able to get a quote on replacing our autopilot.  Up to this point we had been playing tag with two other boats headed for the US and another that was going to Martinique and then back to Grenada and a fourth boat that was undecided from the beginning.  One boat headed out from Bequia and is now in St. Kitts.  The other three were with us in Rodney Bay.

Fruit and veggie boat making its rounds in the anchorage

Despite having access to local VHF nets, HF radio nets, and the internet, getting reliable, current information was a real challenge.  More and more islands were putting travel restrictions and/or quarantine policies in place and we were getting nervous about getting stuck somewhere and not able to get our boat out of the hurricane zone before hurricane season.  (Two of the boats that were with us in Rodney Bay headed north and are still in Martinique and quarantined on their boats indefinitely.)

We were on shore when we got “reasonably reliable” information that any boats arriving in Grenada (we assumed anywhere in the country, not just the island) after Mar 19 would be subject to a 14 day quarantine.  We decided to beat feet for Grenada and to get in ahead of the deadline. Luckily I had our boat papers with us and we checked out late in the afternoon.

We left the next morning at first light to make the seventy mile trip to Bequia.  We dropped anchor mid-afternoon after a great sail.  We ran up the yellow flag, got some rest and left for Carriacou at first light the next morning.  Once again we had a good sail and anchored early in the afternoon Mar 18, a day ahead of the deadline.


Usually when we arrive somewhere, we cover the sails, put gear away, and tidy the boat in general, before checking in, but not so this time.  As soon as we were confident that the anchor was dug in and that we wouldn’t swing into another boat in the crowded anchorage we commissioned the dinghy, locked the boat and headed for Customs and Immigration.

We weren’t the only ones.  There was a long line.  It was around 2 PM and we had to get a health screening before we could check in to the country.  We learned that the lady doing the screening hadn’t taken a break all day.  Luckily, she didn’t go to lunch until shortly after she screened us.  The whole process took about two hours.  We went back to the boat and went swimming.  We figured we could put the sail covers on and tidy the boat the next day.

Late in the evening of our second day in Carriacou the person who does the local cruiser radio net control came on and read a statement put out by Grenada quarantining everyone on their boats.  We can get the radio net from Grenada and we listened to it the next morning.  We missed the first part of the net which is when they would discuss things like a quarantine order, but when we tuned in it seemed like business as usual.  I asked about the quarantine in the Q and A section and was told it wasn’t an issue.  We decided not to trust the conflicting information and just sail to Grenada.   We went to shore and got the last of our laundry and sail to Grenada.

A few days later Carriacou got serious about lockdown after a quarantined charter boat crew went ashore on an uninhabited island.  Evidently officials are patrolling the waterfront – it’s a small place.  Grenada now has seven virus cases that trace back to someone who flew in to Grenada and took the ferry to Carriacou for a wedding.  (Currently, Apr 10, all three of Grenada’s islands are still locked down.  Cruisers can’t leave their boats except to swim or go for groceries.  Access to grocery stores is very limited.)


We had a good sail to Grenada and picked up a mooring back in Mt. Hartman Bay.  Some friends were surprised we showed up that day because they had heard that sailing between the islands was prohibited.  That was news to us.

The next morning, Sunday Mar 22, we got word that Grenada’s airport was closing at the end of the day on Monday.  We had booked a flight with American for the following weekend (today) but had not received a cancellation notice.  Jackie managed to find us a couple seats on a Jet Blue flight to JFK that afternoon.  We took the sails off, put all the canvas below, and did most of the things needed to put the boat up.  The guy we rent the mooring from took us to the airport.  We caught the flight with time to spare.  We had been on the island about 24 hours.

The big determining factors to not ride it out were that the boat is a VERY small place if you can’t get off once in a while, we didn’t know how long this would go on, and if we got sick there are precious few medical resources in Grenada.  We had to balance that against the risk of being exposed to the virus during air travel.

The flight was packed, but since there were no cases on Grenada yet we figure we are probably OK.  Interestingly there was no health screening coming into NY.  We spent the night in a hotel (only four rooms were occupied).  The next morning we flew from La Guardia to Wilmington with only four other passengers.  All the US airports that we went through were empty.

It was good to get back to our house in North Carolina


So we are here and have made it through more than two weeks of self-imposed quarantine, so we probably didn’t pick up any bugs along the way.  We have figured out how to get food delivered or by curbside pickup at grocery stores.

In retrospect I don’t think there are any decisions we would have made differently.  We headed north with a wait and see attitude about how things would develop, but pretty early on we began to suspect that countries would close their borders and of course they did.It is a month later and our friends our still locked down on their boats in various countries. Restrictions vary from island to island but movement is restricted to certain times of certain days to get food or simply on an emergency basis. Grenada finally seems to be allowing limited opening up retail stores, but masks and social distancing measures are in place.

A Caribbean Interlude

January 21, 2017

Posted from Leland, NC

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


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

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


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

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 rain forest.

Banana tree



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


Caribbean flycatcher



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. 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 Ruff Enuff 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. 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


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

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).  Unfortunatly 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).


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

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



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.

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

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.


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, Denali National Park

Whale tail near Vancouver

Mike, Pat, Jackie, and Eric somewhere in Alaska

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

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.

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.  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


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

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. 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

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.  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

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 on the way to 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


Shore birds

More Shore birds

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.



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!


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

Our room at the Milpe lodge


Hummingbirds vie for dominance at the bird feeder


Racket-Tail Hummingbird

Racket-Tail Hummingbird

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


Rufous-Collared Sparrow

Rufus-Collared Sparrow

Screech Owl

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.



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 church, 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 iguanas, dolphins, sea turtles, and penguins.

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 – 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

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

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

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.


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.

The squirrel monkeys were playing just over the cabins

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

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


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


The Albatross that followed the boat one day

The Albatross that followed the boat one day

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

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

Mama and baby sea lions

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 hung out at the Santa Cruz fish market waiting for scraps

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

Rays at Bahaia Elizabeth

More rays at Bahaia Elizabeth


Many islands have forbidding terrain like this.

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


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?


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



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 in the birdbath

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

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


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.

Jackie tries out her new mask and snorkel

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

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


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. We passed through here on our way south in 2019.

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.


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.

Mangrove cuckoo


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. Charles prepares to fit another piece

They clamped the gunnels on with split pvc pipe.


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.  Notice the low cloud layer.

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 moon rise, 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, André, Andy, Jack, and Monty


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

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.


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

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

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

Pre-start action

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

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

Bill, Chris, and navigator Flaco of Plover

Hank and Denise on Toogoodoo

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



Rhinoceroses, Karongwe Park, South Africa



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 – not yet eaten. Kambi Ya Tembo, Tanzania

Hippos. Chobe River, Botswana

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

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.


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.


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

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.


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

Coaming and winch base core made with honeycomb panel

Ready for fairing

Back together and ready to sail


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

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


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

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.


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


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


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.


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.


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

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.


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


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


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

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

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


An absurd form of transportation gets worse

Mt. Hartman Bay sunset




July 12, 2014

posted from Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada


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?

View of Rodney Bay from Fort Shirley

Bare eyed robin

Bare eyed robinWe 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




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

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.


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.


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 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

Trumpet fish

Smooth Trunkfish

Sharp tail Eel

Banded Butterfly fish

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

Just a few of the many beautiful model boats

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

Locally built racing sailboats

Many island beaches are a study in interesting watercraft

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.


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

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.


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

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


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.

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

Wreck being battered on beach


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

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. Our house is by the red arrow



Next: Back home in Grenada


May 31, 2014

posted from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia


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

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

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

Traditional Kalinago boat

One sculpture for each of the elected chiefs

We also saw some beautiful views of Dominica.

Dominica’s coastline

Dominica's mountains

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.

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

Land crab was somebody’s lunch

One of many hermit crabs in the park

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 bowsprit 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

Broken bobstay bracket


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

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

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.


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!

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.

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)

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.


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.


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

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

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

Next: More St. Lucia