July 2015 ~ Grenadines
Day 1750 ~ Whaling MuseumJuly 1st, 2015
Today was a field trip to the whaling museum. Traveller, Ally Cat and we Dreamers set out on the quest in the morning; for our girls, it was their history lesson for the day. Instead of going north, this time we walked south toward the airport. No one was absolutely sure where the museum was or if it was even open, but we would consider it a scenic hike nevertheless.
We went up and over to the east side, then followed the coastal road south. We asked a couple locals along the way and the answer was always 'up ahead'. At one point when we asked, the people pointed behind us, but also said no one was home. Somehow we missed it and perhaps it's a seasonal thing. At the top of the hill, we saw a gate bordered by two rib bones and assumed that the closed up house overlooking the sea was what we wanted. Oh well, we tried. Just up ahead, however, we saw a wall with Whaling Museum written on it on the uphill side of the road. Guess it must have been when we were gawking at the lovely open view of sea and island while walking by.
We walked up the steps and there was actually someone home, or rather two people in the hair salon adjoining. The 'museum' was more like a wall with artifacts and photos, but Nyocia came over to give us her presentation. Turns out her grandmother is first cousins to Athneal Olivierre who is considered the greatest whaler in the Caribbean. She also pulled out her phone to show us photos and video from this year's whaling expedition.
Some of the facts gleaned from Nyocia's story (each of the girls wrote something of their experience too):
- Whaling season runs February through April.
- The humpback is the whale of choice while on their migration north.
- They only aim to kill the bulls and the whales now must be over 27 feet long.
- Bequia is allowed up to four whales a year. However, sometimes they catch their limit, other years they don't.
- The whaling sailboats are only around 25' in length, fairly narrow and carry six crew.
- They sail out, harpoon the whale, douse the sails, tie the mouth to prevent it filling with water and sinking, then a motor boat tows the whaling boat and whale to shore where it is processed.
- While they used to use either a gun or harpoon for the first shot, whaling here is now done exclusively by harpoon as the gun causes the meat to spoil faster.
- The rope attached to the harpoon is in a large tub filled with water or else the high friction will set it on fire.
- A lance can also used after the harpoon.
- The meat is processed at a whaling station located on a small island in Friendship Bay. The blubber and meat is sold by the whaling boats to those in the community.
- Whaling is not indiginous to Bequia, but was introduced in 1870 by Bill Wallace.
Whether we all agreed with whaling or not, we went away with a little piece of Bequia history.
Day 1752 ~ A Full DayJuly 3rd, 2015
Woke up around 3am to rain and wind, then puttered around for a bit. At 4:30am, I heard an odd splashing against the hull so waited and listened to figure out what it was. It didn't really sound like a wake passing nor a swimmer, so I kept listening. Pippin, while still laying on his pillow in the salon, also heard it and started offering his muffled 'woof' from time to time. Finally, I went out in the cockpit to see if we had left the dinghy hanging too low so a wake was hitting the motor and was quite surprised to see the silhouettes of two men in a little double-bow skiff, one of whom appeared to rise as if to board our boat. Instinct and adrenaline kicked in and I started hollaring while Pippin went to the back step and started barking. I think the young men were as surprised as I as they gave several excuses like "we don't mean you no harm", "we was just fishin'" and "we was just restin'". I kept yelling at them and they rowed quickly toward shore where I eventually lost sight of them in the darkness. I shone my flashlight out a couple of times to let them know someone was still watching, but I wouldn't know if they just moved on to another boat.
I eventually went back down an hour later and slept fitfully. Later in the morning, I reported it on the Cruiser's Net and also noticed two little skiffs on shore. One was a double-bow skiff sitting just above the waterline next to the dock, the other was inside a jetty and there was a man sitting on the path talking on a phone. Taking my camera to photograph the skiff, I took the dinghy to shore just as the man on the phone met another young man at the boat. Sure enough, the older man was the owner of the boat and in process of filing a police report about his stolen skiff. Too many coincidences not to be connected. He told me that it was likely some ne'er-do-wells, too lazy to work, looking for money for Carnival, stealing some local's dinghy so he gets the blame.
I was encouraged to file a report, but when I went to the station, the policeman told me a report couldn't be filed due to the fact that neither man actually boarded our boat and nothing was taken. He did mention that there have been many petty thefts in the area and the coast guard boat should return later today from getting repairs and resume their nightly patrol.
Hard to say how seriously they take these incidences, but if too little action is taken, then cruisers will eventually stop coming. We'll see.
Peter and I have wanted to dive before leaving, but the weather has been windy, cloudy and rainy. Today, however, held some promise so we made a plan to go and hoped the current wasn't too strong. Greg and David came along too so each of us could get a half-tank worth. We went out to the mouth of the bay and found the buoy marking the dive spot, Devil's Table. David and I went in first and worked our way to the shoreline on the first half tank, the current disappeared completely within the first minute. In the meantime, on the surface, Peter spotted the wreck's buoy so Greg and I went down to see that. By the time we surfaced, we didn't have much air left so Peter will try tomorrow.
At any rate, we ended the day on a positive note.
Day 1753 ~ Independence DayJuly 4th, 2015
Peter has wanted to go diving before we leave Bequia and time is now running out. We loaded all the gear in the afternoon and headed out. However, a local fisherman's skiff engine died and he needed a tow, then I realized I had forgotten my wetsuit so we had to go all the way back to the boat to retrieve it. By the time we did get in the water, it was 3:30p. He tried descending to the tug, but his ear wouldn't clear so we opted for the shallower Devil's Table instead.
We returned in enough time to wash gear and clean up before the gang came over for a potluck on our boat to celebrate the 4th.
Day 1755 ~ On the Move AgainJuly 6th, 2015
We just wanted to get a few provisions before moving on to Mayreau where we know from past experience that the pickin's are very slim until Grenada. However, when we step ashore, we are greeted with a silence that doesn't seem quite right. Turns out, as seems to be our habit, we picked a holiday to leave...again. It's Carnival in St. Vincent so the stores are closed today and tomorrow. Thankfully, Doris' gourmet store was open and the produce guy had a few freshies in stock and one last loaf of bread. We couldn't stock up as much as we wanted, but at least we returned with a few things.
Our passage is just a few hours away but we had to wait for the laundry to be delivered. Yes, laundry delivery, imagine that?! In every other island, having someone else wash our things is way too cost-prohibitive. I also assumed that with Bequia where the prices are geared for the hundreds of charterers that cruise through every year. However, it turned out that the shore coin-op washer cost 12.00EC ($4.50) per load, but Miranda will pick up and deliver a wash-only load for 12.50EC ($4.65), and I get to choose hot, warm or cold water! What luxury.
Since we had so much extra time on our hands, we used it to clean the now-empty water tank and the fridge. When it was time to go, I noticed I was missing a sheet. Peter looked out and saw a faint pink spot on the sea floor so got one more swim in before we left.
Day 1756 ~ July 7th, 2015
Day 1757 ~ Exploring TownJuly 8th, 2015
Mayreau is a quiet island with a very small population. Peter and I headed in to shore in search of bread and to see what, if any, freshies might be available. We climbed the steep hill and found a decent sized store carrying the basics and a variety of canned goods. In Caribbean fashion, it also offered plenty of hair gel and a pile of wigs and hair extensions just in case. The fridge contained no surprises but a handful of freshies, relatively speaking: one cabbage, 9 bags of carrots, a bunch of overripe plantains and several bags of raisins.
We continued on our way and headed to the top of the hill. By the number of restaurants and bars, they must get a fair number of charterers in season. At the top, we found a viewpoint overlooking the northern Salt Whistle Bay and east to Tobago Cays where all our friends are for a day or two.
The afternoon was quiet without our kid boat friends and the girls spent it reading, playing minecraft and swimming.
Day 1758 ~ Exploring MayreauJuly 9th, 2015
The kids have been talking about making a movie for days now. All they need is to have all the kids in one place, but that hasn't happened until now. Proud Mary left with their guest a while ago, then they joined us and the rest of the group decided to go to Tobago Cays for a couple days. Our girls were beside themselves trying to figure out how everyone was going to come together at the same time.
Well, today was the day and all the kid boats agreed to stick around for the filming. Our girls were up late last night gathering supplies, editing the script and bundling costumes for each actor. This morning they whipped through their lessons and were done by 10am (but, where there's a will, there's a way) and the radio came alive while the kids coordinated the whos, the whats and the wheres. Soon, all the kids were on our boat donning costumes and getting their hair done, then piled in the dinghy for shore. There's a nice wide-open park area with picnic tables, lots of trees and a couple of buildings for their outdoor set.
While the kids filmed all day, some of us adults (and Pippin) took a walk around the island in the late afternoon, about a two hour hike. The trail cuts over to the east, then north up the coast to a trail that cuts inland, then back out to the beach. It passes through Salt Whistle Bay, a popular charter boat stop-over, where we picked up one of the island dogs who followed us the rest of the way through town. Both Pippin and the other dog managed to attract just about every other canine resident and, along with it, came a complete cacophony that followed us from the top of the hill about halfway down.
After a quick stop at the store, where we picked up another stray, we made our way back to the dock and out to the boat with only Pippin in tow.
Day 1759 ~ July 10th, 2015
Day 1761 ~ Party TimeJuly 12th, 2015
Kaci on Traveller turns 10 tomorrow, but we are all celebrating over at her boat today. Nina made the cake and the girls got their creative juices flowing in the gift arena. The kids played at the beach in the afternoon, then we all piled aboard Traveller for cake and a potluck.
Any excuse for a party.
Day 1762 ~ Another IslandJuly 13th, 2015
Ate breakfast, then set to work preparing the boat for departure. All downwind sail with just our headsail over to Chatham Bay. Last time we were there was to bring in the new 2011 year.
Late afternoon when the sun wasn't so intense, we rounded up a few in our kid boat group and walked the trail to the top of the hill where we enjoyed panoramic views and a cool breeze.
Day 1763 ~ Surrounded!July 14th, 2015
I awoke at 4am for some reason, but couldn't go back to sleep so stayed up for an hour or so. When I finally did go back down about an hour and a half later, I drifted in and out of sleep amongst Pippin barking and fishermen yelling at each other. All the while I hoped that someone would stop. Finally, about 7:20, Nina came down and said the fishermen need us to pull up our anchor and move. Huh, what?!
Coming sleepy-eyed to the deck, we see a seine net completely surrounding our boat, two fishermen snorkeling the water and five in the pirougue ready to haul the net. To them, it was simple. We use our windless to haul our boat forward, pull the anchor and drift back while they maneuver the net under prop, rudder and keel to get all the fish. What they don't realize is, unlike the charterers put into this same situation, that we actually own our boat so care about what we do to it. Not to mention the 10-15 knot winds with 25 knot gusts that barrel down the mountainside and blast our boat to one side or another. To pull the boat forward with just the windless would burn out the motor, to move forward with the engine could prop their net or hurt their fishermen. Our anchor is also just about under where the net is going and the winds keep slamming us into the now-free net. However, explaining this doesn't really get through, "But the fish are under your boat, Mon."
Now we do have a problem. When the men pulled the net closer to our boat, Peter used the boat hook to get it down and around one of our keels. The snorkelers in the water worked to get it out from the other. Another pirougue came and I saw a couple men start to pull on something heavy. I thought it might be trying to close up the bottom of the fishing net, but then a spade anchor came out of the water, our spade anchor. When they dropped it on the other side of the net, I'm not sure they thought about the fact that the rest of the 40 feet of chain would pull the fish net down, potentially releasing their catch they're working so hard to keep. One snorkeler starts splashing the water to scare the fish back, another jumps aboard the bow of the pirogue and begins hauling on the net to get our chain free.
Finally, they were successful at separating our boat with their net, but not sure how many fish were lost in the process. The snorkeler was at least kind enough to tell us our boat was dragging. We reanchored just east of our former spot and got our breakfast.
I tried to watch them pull in the rest of the net, but I missed it. By 9am we had our morning of local entertainment.
It had rained off and on the rest of the morning, but blue sky prevailed as we prepared for a kid boat picnic at the top of the hill. At 1pm, we dashed to the beach just before several waves of rainclouds blew by, then headed up the hill in a lull. A couple more passed overhead, but we stayed on and eventually it finally did clear up. A local named Bushman stopped by to visit with his orphan baby goat following close behind. For the last eight years, he's been the caretaker for the French owner of the field we were using as well as the house just behind it and its resident chickens and goats. A jovial and friendly man, he chatted with us for a while and even invited us to take cover under the house veranda if we wanted shelter.
The kids went off to explore, then returned to the beach to go knee-boarding while there was still light. The adults eventually headed back as well. A nice end to a crazy beginning.
Day 1764 ~ One in Every NeighborhoodJuly 15th, 2015
We finished breakfast and headed out. Peter needs some internet so we just have the morning to get set up before the Alaska work day begins. We were the first to motor around corner to the next bay by Frigate Island. Only three miles, we didn't bother to raise the sails for the half hour trip. Peter dropped a fishing line in the water and managed to catch a Pippin-size blue runner. We're nearing the end of the dog food bag and few islanders must buy dog food as no store had any. The vet office had a small stack of 55 lb bags for $63, but at twice the price paid in other islands, we're going to see if we can get by with supplementing his dry food with fish until we reach the south of Grenada.
There were four boats in the bay so we chose a sandy patch and went through our standard anchoring maneuvers. We dropped the hook between two boats and ended up a little closer to a Norwegian boat than we would have liked, but we figured it was adequate for the couple of days we planned at this spot.
Now cruisers have several ways to express their distaste in someone else's placement in a bay. Some are perfectly content with the blunt approach of either asking nicely or hollering obscenities. We, personally, prefer the subtle approach and have been known to send the kids to play on the tramp or use the opportunity to tackle a boat project that requires a power tool. The Norwegian just to starboard, however, chose a bit of both. He picked a time when Peter was outside to don his birthday suit and parade up and down his own boat with no specific purpose in mind. Considering five other kid boats were due to arrive and would likely choose to anchor around us, we could have fought fire with fire (aka surround the streaker), so to speak, but instead we quietly acquiesced and moved far to the left of the pack. What would be the point of creating animosity?!
The rest of the crew arrived, favoring our side of the bay. While the kids played, some of the adults headed for town to scope out fresh provisions (we've been out for a couple days now) and a few stamps in the main town of Clifton, a 2EC bus ride away. A short walk from the dock to the bus stop, we loaded up in a local bus and set off. We managed to find most everything we wanted after hitting every store we found. At the gourmet place, our last stop, temptation won over and a couple in our group shared an ice cream Sundae before heading back to Ashton and the boats.
- Frigate Island, Union Island, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Caribbean
- Re-anchor, Frigate Island, Union Island, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Caribbean
Day 1765 ~ Fish ManiaJuly 16th, 2015
Peter and Nika, our early riser, went fishing before school. After several near strikes, snatched lures, snapped (rusty) hooks, they broke open the new packs of hooks and got serious in the battle. David on Traveller and Steve on Uno, both nearest our boat, came out to see what the excitement was about and were soon casting their own rigs in anxious to capitalize on the action. Nika managed to finally catch and keep a small one, perfect for Pippin's dinner.
Mid-morning, an small entourage of adults from each boat headed back into town to clear out with Customs and grab a few extra provisions. The plan was to leave this afternoon for Sandy Island off Carriacou, then to Tyrrel Bay on Friday to check into Grenada. However, by the time we returned mid-afternoon, the motivation to move had waned and only two of the five of our group actually followed-through with the plan.
We spent several hours visiting with Sasquatch who had just arrived in SVG with their newly arrived guest.
Day 1766 ~ Grenada AgainJuly 17th, 2015
About 10am, we raised anchor and headed south. It was a mostly downwind sail so we hardly noticed. If most sailing were like this, perhaps I'd consider the South Pacific. Two hours later, we pulled into Tyrrel Bay in front of Daystar. The rest of the kid boats filtered in within the next hour.
We headed in to Customs, but must return tomorrow to pay and get our Cruising Permit. The immigration lady is away attending a funeral, but will be in tomorrow. Of course, last year the same Customs guy was the only one in the office and took our money last year, but I guess he just doesn't feel like it today.
We returned for a quick lunch, then headed to shore to check out the provision potential.
Day 1768 ~ Picnic HikeJuly 19th, 2015
It's been a while since we went on a group hike so thought it was high time to do Mt. Carré in Carriacou. We gathered our snacks and water bottles and met ashore. The hike up was shady for part of the walk, so not too arduous, and the view was spectacular.
Day 1769 ~ Last Leg to GrenadaJuly 20th, 2015
Grenada is a destination point. Many boats pause here for the hurricane season and many of the activities and services are geared toward our needs. For others, it's a place at which they arrive, but from which they never leave. For us, we're not sure if we'll go farther south or turn back, all we knew was that we wanted to go slower. The last three journeys between St. Martin and Grenada were done in two months or less. This year, with no project or boat yard delays, we were finally able to take our sweet time. We left St. Martin on May 5, hooked up with a few kid boats along the way and then spent many weeks exploring our favorite islands and bays.
With a prediction of light winds, we opted for a journey on the windward side. We hauled anchor first thing and motored out of Tyrrel Bay. Proud Mary and Traveller weren't far behind us and Daystar remained in the bay in anticipation of their haul out for bottom paint.
We sailed most of the way and started off well. The others quickly caught up and passed us by. Mid-way down Grenada, however, the front that had been chasing us finally caught up. The angle was such that it took all our wind and passed on by with little change other than a spurt of rainfall. Overall, a fairly calm ride.
We motored the rest of the way into Hartman Bay for a change. Having spent most days motoring around to Secret Harbour Marina for various activities, we opted to anchor closer to save dinghy gas. Several of our friends are anchored here too so that makes the decision even easier.
Day 1770 ~ Birthday PartyJuly 21st, 2015
We celebreated Gavroche's daughter's birthday at the University Club. The pool and restuarant were closed for a private event, but they allowed the use of the grassy grounds and picnic tables. Of course, there's always the bay for water play as well.
Day 1771 ~ Sea Pearl LaunchJuly 22nd, 2015
After talking about it in several previous bays, we finally dropped Sea Pearl. The girls and their friends spent a couple hours having fun.
Day 1774 ~ Giving BloodJuly 25th, 2015
A desperate call for blood came on the morning Cruisers' Net a couple days ago. A fellow cruiser was in the hospital on the edge of death desperately needing several pints of blood and, as I understand it, the hospital requires donors before surgery begins. It didn't take long before a plan was formed. A couple bus drivers offered to take volunteers, the flabotomist agreed to come in to the lab on her own time to draw the blood and over 20 cruisers volunteered their arms.
The local hospital is very basic. The lab's 'waiting room' consists of several wooden benches set up in the open-ended stairwell. Thankfully, it was a rainy day and a nice breeze flowed in from the outside. We passed around the three clipboards containing the official form, the lab had room for three at a time. Someone asked if a local man could cut in line as his wife was in a room about to undergo her C-Section so of course we told him to go ahead. We were even told that the hospital does not serve food so it is up to others to provide sustenance for each patient admitted.
Unfortunately, my hemoglobin was too low so they rejected my offer, but I think everyone else was able to give. Regardless, it's really nice to see how fast the cruisers rally to help someone in need.
Day 1775 ~ VolleyballJuly 26th, 2015
Nina loves to play volleyball, which is scheduled three times per week at the Secret Harbour Marina's court. This year, we have an extraordinary high number of cruisers so there are often five teams switching out. Last year, a former Olympic volleyball team member from Canada offered a free clinic to the kids once a week to help improve their game and work on technique so this is just more practice.
Day 1778 ~ Prickly GoodbyesJuly 29th, 2015
One of Sasquatch's friends came to visit for a couple week and we met him in the Grenadines. Now it's time for him to return so we were invited for a proper send-off. Being as though cruisers like any excuse to get together and hang out, we and several other boats hiked across the point to Prickly Bay Marina for drinks. Some ate dinner and then watched the first part of Bingo before heading back home.