November 2015 ~ Moving Again
Day 1902 ~ Wash OutNovember 30th, 2015
Eventually, the noise dwindled to only one bar near the lagoon entrance and it only went until around 2am. It's usually only in the former-British islands where we are thankful for music until 2am as it so often blasts away until 8 or 9am. We were planning to shop in the morning then blast out of here by afternoon, but we just couldn't muster the energy for all that after our bashy/crashy passage.
Peter caught up on some work (funny, the people who pay him actually expect him to produce!), then he and I headed in to knock out our grocery list while Nika finished school. Two kid boats from Grenada are here so she had some motivation to get done. The plan was to take the bus to Mega J (sort of a mini Costco), then return with Nika's playmates. After they spent some time together catching up, we would then drop the kids off while we tackled the regular grocery stores we can access with the dinghy. Simple, right?
We hopped on a bus where we normally hop on a bus, but then realized we may have gotten on the wrong number (there's a 1A and 1B). No, we were on the right one, but the bridge had washed out thus creating a long 20 minute detour around the lagoon to the regular grocery store and mall where we had to switch busses to actually get out to Mega J.
Sheesh, had we known that, we could have dinghied an extra 50 yards to the mall dinghy dock and saved the hassle (because we have to do the same thing going back). Good thing we're cruisers and can spare a few 20 minute detours. We made it back fine, just a bit later than Nika had hoped. Since the grocery store is open until 10pm, we ended up feeding Marina and Nanabelle to give them more kid time as Proud Mary is still in St. Vincent and we may not hook up with them or any others for a few days yet.
Day 1901 ~ Bashy and CrashyNovember 29th, 2015
We were up at 5am, well before the lazy winter sun. Managed, in our sleepless state, to tackle the pre-departure list in three-quarters of an hour before heading out of the bay. I really don't enjoy sailing like Peter does and feel a little more like Pippin who doesn't move from his spot on the bench, just without the shivering and shaking. To me it's just a necessary evil to the next calm anchorage, so I put up with it; there I can freely move about the cabin without crashing into anything or being knocked over if a wave hits just right. Thankfully, cruising is really only 10% sailing and 90% waterfront property.
We were doing fine, when all of a sudden we started crashing and banging about, as if in a washing machine. Behind us we could see the wicked current, complete with zagged waves and white caps, flowing just past the northern tip of St. Vincent. I hung on tighter. A long rough passage is one thing, but bashy and crashy most of the gap makes for an interminably long ride.
However, all things must end; the washing machine did finish its rinse cycle at the south end of St. Lucia. While normally we have to burn dinosaurs to move up the leeward side of a large, mountainous island, we were able to stay sailing. About 5 miles from shore, we turned east for Rodney Bay, dropped the sails and motored and bashed into the wind some more. Thankfully, Rodney Bay is a flat calm anchorage
I wish I could say the same for the noise factor. Sunday is traditionally a family outing day in the islands. In St. Lucia, however, I think most locals are deaf. Between the northern shore and the lagoon inlet, there are two bars on either end, two resorts and one long beach in between. Being family day when everyone is out and about, there is booming and blasting from every quadrant, most I can't even call music. The bars were blasting, Sandals had some party going on, several cars with large speakers along the long beach. It's as if each cranks their own volume in order to drown out the guy next door. From the water, it just sounds like more bashing and crashing, but one that usually carries on until 2am or even all night. Each time we stop here, I keep asking if the provisioning is really worth the hearing and sleep loss.
GPS location Date/Time:11/29/2015 02:31:24 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:11/29/2015 06:30:03 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:11/29/2015 08:56:33 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:11/29/2015 10:53:19 AKST
Day 1900 ~ What a DragNovember 28th, 2015
Being Saturday and only children, Cora and Nika scheduled beach time from late morning to afternoon followed by swimming at our boat. The rest of the crew went to town to get groceries but, since my ear still wasn't normal I stayed behind to knock out a couple projects. However, I actually ended up tipping over and falling asleep thinking about all that mold still gracing our walls.
When I awoke, I noticed the cat behind us and my gut told me they looked a little closer. The winds whipped and blasted over the hills and funneled through the anchorage so I monitored for a while. We weren't side-on and I felt the noticeable tug and jerk when a particularly strong blast whipped past and pulled the anchor chain tight. Eventually, Peter, Bill and Tinka returned with the dinghy and I didn't think any more about it. Instead, I took Bill and Tinka out to a decent dive site we tried last summer; they just got certified in Grenada so are anxious to practice what they lear. Since my ears were still on the edge and I have only two sets of dive equipment, it worked well.
Once back at the boat, Peter confirmed my suspicions when he went swimming. We did drag our anchor and will have to move since there are no other empty sandy spots nearby. This anchorage is a bear in that respect. Often, what looks like pure sand, is just a thin layer over rock or limestone. The grassy areas are the same and anchors tend to grab on to a grassy clump for a while, then give way. In our case, we knew this and Peter even went down with a screwdriver to check the sand depth. Plus, it already held us for 24 hours before giving way. At any rate, we attempted 3-4 more sets before finally ending up in the back of the pack at the far end of the beach where the ocean swell rolls in. We're not picky this time as we only have to hold for 12 hours before we take off to St. Lucia.
Now secure, we headed off to Proud Mary where Bill prepared a wonderful meal of pork chops, potatoes and leeks. They'll stick around SVG for a couple more days before joining us up island.
Where's Nana? In the Suriname River as of 11:36am AKST.
Day 1899 ~ Laundry HavenNovember 27th, 2015
We took Pippin for another morning run before the mob of tourists descended again (the locals were back out with their rakes). Just as we were ready to head back, the cruise ship shows up followed by the Coast Guard presumably to assist clearing in the ship. Great, we haven't checked into SVG (and weren't really planning to do so for two days) and dogs aren't technically allowed without a permit. We waited at the dock, but the boat only hovered around the anchorage. While they stopped at one boat in the anchorage, we took the opportunity to make a dash for our boat to raise anchor and skeedaddle on outta there. Criminals on the run. Whatever.
Once underway and our hearts stopped pumping, we had a nice smooth run to Bequia; low seas, 18-20 knots of wind on the beam. We like Bequia because they have the only decent selection of food and local produce in all of SVG and also because of Miranda. I discovered the wonders of Miranda's Laundry last July when we came through. Now, we've always gotten her flyers every time we arrive, but I've always assumed a full-service business would be much more expensive than to do it myself. Boy, was I wrong. I finally got around to checking out the self-serve facility, an unlit concrete room behind the clothing store and underneath the cafe. Low ceiling and lighted from only the glassless 'spaces' in the only outside wall, a quick glance at the few machines scattered about made me wonder how many actually worked. I no longer even bother asking if there are temperature choices, but the price of one wash-only load would be 12EC ($4.45), 0.50EC less than full-service. Who knew?!
Granted, her price is now $15 for a wash-only load, but that's still slightly over $1 for her to come out and pick up our bags, wash them in my choice of temperature, provide the soap and deliver them back to the boat costs about $1 more than the DIY plan. Doesn't take long to figure out what to do there.
Have saved up since we left Grenada a month ago, I called Miranda as soon as our anchor was set and scheduled a pick-up. Ah, simple pleasures.
Day 1898 ~ ThanksgivingNovember 26th, 2015
Since Pippin missed his walk yesterday while we were on passage, we opted to take a family walk on the near deserted beach. Several locals were out with rakes and what looked like preparation for tourists perhaps. Sure enough, in speaking with one woman, 300 cruise ship passengers are due to arrive for the day (next week an 800 passenger ship descends!). Good thing we went now.
Nika did her school, then while the tourists baked themselves silly in the sun, I tackled mold in our room and head. The walls start turning black about every six months or so, but I'm hoping to prolong that with my new mold buster, Concrobium. Ah, the things that excite cruisers...
Unfortunately, we are down two children and we passed up our friends in Union Island, so Thanksgiving was a small and quiet affair. We still had a can of duck from when we went through the French islands earlier this summer, so we heated that up, boiled some potatoes, local sweet potatoes and rice and split the last carrot between us. We have many things for which to be thankful.
Where's Nana? Right here as of 5:01am AKST.
Day 1897 ~ Enroute to SVGNovember 25th, 2015
Our intention was to depart between 3am and 4am, but we didn't awaken until 5. Oh well. We sleepily tackled all the pre-departure tasks like closing hatches, locking cabinets and making sure nothing loose will fly overboard. Being on a catamaran is nice in that way, but occasionally we'll hit a wave just right and pay for our lack of passage housekeeping when all the bowls shoot out of the unlocked cupboard or the aloe vera plant dumps over onto the floor. Alas.
On this trip we made good time. The winds were stronger than our passage south. The seas weren't anywhere close to flat, but they weren't too crazy either so no crashing and banging to deal with. We debated which island to aim for. A our sailing angle, Bequia would only another 10 miles than Mayreau, whereas the distance between the two is 20 miles. Go figure. However, in the end, we were ready to be done sailing and aimed for Mayreau. The huge, often deserted, beach was a big factor, especially after not finding a really good landing spot to run Pippin in Tobago.
We were thankful for the stronger winds as they cut our travel time in half. After 12 1/2 hours, we even got to anchor in the waning light of the day.
GPS location Date/Time:11/25/2015 00:00:16 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:11/25/2015 03:01:11 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:11/25/2015 06:00:08 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:11/25/2015 08:53:53 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:11/25/2015 12:00:08 AKST
Depart at 5am, arrive at 5:39pm, 92 knots, 7.36 knot average
Day 1896 ~ Chilled OutNovember 24th, 2015
Swell reduced today so not as bouncy as past couple days. Not much happening as we intended to leave yesterday, but delayed until tomorrow for lack of wind.
Peter and Bill went to town one last time and got a few forgotten items. Cora and Nika busied themselves making Christmas gifts for friends. I tried to catch up on bills and computer work. My swimmers ear is still painful so taking ibuprofen every 6 hours or so and attempting to be still.
Proud Mary left around 4pm and our plan now is to leave around 4am.
Day 1895 ~ More Mountains of PaperworkNovember 23rd, 2015
Tobago has a ridiculous system of splitting the two halves into separate customs/immigration stops for boaters. Of course, one can freely go to shore and drive a car anywhere on the island, but one can't take a boat from bay to bay without special permission.
Proud Mary checked in the NE end and already got their permission to move to the SW end, they just needed to find a ride to Scarborough to make it official. Now that we've found a weather window to head north, he may as well go check in and out in one trip and I'll check out since we haven't moved.
Because it took us four hours to check in and overtime fees are charged after 4pm, we set to head in about Noon. We tried catching the 12:30p bus (as stated by a local beach artist), but the security guard at the building next to the bus stop said it came every hour on the hour "if it left Scarborough on time". At this point, it could be any time of the day so opted to catch a car share instead ($1.10 vs 31 cents). At 12:56, we passed the bus going the other way making it about 25 minutes late.
The driver dropped us off at the corner and we got to the immigration office around 1:15p. The woman working there handed me two sets of forms and carbon paper to write in triplicate. I mentioned we were two boats and she acknowledged but didn't get more forms. I handed mine in and asked for more forms for Bill. She then remembered we needed a third form, which she offered to photocopy. Then, she disappeared without a word. There were three other local ladies in the waiting room chatting. It wasn't clear if any were employees, but they didn't pay us any attention. Bill finished his papers in good time and we waited. And waited. And waited. The door was open, but the sign read "knock and wait to enter". I knocked to an empty room and the ladies chatted on. Perhaps about 45 minutes later, an official looking woman came in from outside. Bill knew who she was because she was the same immigration officer who stamped their passports in the northern half, a process that took them two and a half hours. So, not only do they make us check in and out in each half, but they use the same officer to do both. Sheesh.
Anyway, she entered the room on the phone and talked for another 5 minutes. Finally, she summoned me into the inner sanctum. She asked where my fourth form was, but I could only tell her that I was given only three. This one, she said, must be filled in quadruplicate and we basically had to fill in the same data as on the other three forms. Finally, after much shuffling and stapling, I was given a pack of paper and sent on my merry way. Thankfully Bill had properly jumped through all the 'moving to another half' hoops and was sent on his way (we read where a couple entering from Trinidad was fined $470USD for not having the correct paper from Trinidad customs).
Customs is a short walk down the boardwalk located in front of the ferry terminal and about a 15 minute process (it may have taken about 30 minutes for clearing in). We were finally free and it was now 3pm. A quick stop to mail some postcards at the post office (one of those unmarked buildings that took a few passes before honing in) and we were on our way with another Tobagoan resident driving us back.
Where's Nana? Right here as of 1:39am AKST.
Day 1894 ~ Day of RestNovember 22nd, 2015
After an exhausting car rental marathon, it was really nice to get up and not have anywhere to go. Good thing, too, as the waves have turned and are now coming from the northeast making beaching a dinghy rather wet and/or impossible. Just to our north, several people on surf and paddle boards are lining up trying to catch the waves in.
My diving and creek swimming on the tail of a sinus infection has also caught up with me and I woke up with a bad case of swimmers ear. Joy. Took some ibuprofen and set about to de-mold Nika's room walls and bathroom which we use as a pantry. I have a new product recommended by a cruiser so hoping this will keep the black nasty stuff at bay for a while longer.
Pippin's walk time came and we attempted a shore run, but the waves were treacherously large. We scrapped the idea and set him off swimming back to the boat from a little farther than normal; he'll use the trampoline to do his business so, for that back up plan, we are thankful.. He may not like to sail, but, ironically, he'll willingly leap off the dinghy and swim for the boat. He can even get up the swim ladder by himself.
Day 1893 ~ Car Rent Mania EndethNovember 21st, 2015
Peter took the car at 7am to knock out the gas run. Diesel is 1.50TT, which is 23 US cents a liter (or 91 cents a gallon). It's so cheap that it's actually worth gathering the jerry cans, putting them in the dinghy, driving Peter near the beach while keeping out of the surf, getting Peter and the jerries onto the beach without catching a wave, making two trips to the car with empties, driving to the petrol station and back only to repeat everything in reverse (about a 2 hour round-trip venture). However, on the return trip, he can only take two cans at a time from the car, down the beach and into the waiting dinghy. Thankfully, the surf was low today so we didn't get too wet.
Once that chore was accomplished, it was time to mobilize for our last half day with the car. This means trying to find a 12V inverter for Bill to charge his laptop and provisioning. The inverter was a wild goose chase when all was said and done. Either the electronic stores had a large and overkill (aka expensive) or they had something sort of similar, but not really something that would actually work. When we finally landed at Den's in Scarborough (no wonder we couldn't find Dan's) and he didn't have it nor did the two other places he called, we had just enough time to find the grocery store before having to return the car. Yes, we did bring cash and, yes, the Visa machine was still broken.
We didn't go anywhere in the afternoon.
Where's Nana? Right here at 9:14am AKST. Nana and the Daystar crew went to a restaurant and had their choice of 'wild meat: labba, deer, wildhog, powis, watrash, A.C., accuri-hymara & more'. She chose the labba and said it was good.
Where's Nina? She flew with Kate to Florida for Thanksgiving.
Day 1892 ~ Diving TobagoNovember 20th, 2015
We'd heard many good things about diving in Speyside and the price was cheaper than the others we spoke to. Most wanted $60 plus $10 for each regulator, $10 for the BC and $5 for fins and mask. Pricing the dive without equipment is like renting a car and then making the customer first buy the car. Blue Waters Div'n shop gave us an all-inclusive price of $60 and then offered a $10 discount if I brought my own equipment. Four divers adds up so having two sets of gear was handy. Granted, we kept the car an extra day in order to dive, but that's beside the point.
Two other nice things about this dive shop, they have a proper dock so we don't have to swim to/from the boat and many of the dive sites are only a five minute ride away. Once in the water, it's a different world with only bubbles for sound. I've now 88 dives under my belt and this was one of the clearest dives I've experienced. Visibility was excellent, lots of colors and quite a number of fish. Of course, on my best dive and despite my pre-check efforts, my camera battery would have to die 30 minutes into it. Once we were back out of the water and all agreed that we wanted another go, I checked my two backup batteries. Both dead.
Cora decided to sit the second dive out to play on the beach with Nika. Bill, Tinka and I were the only divers too; the morning run had six others.
Where's Nana? Right here at 4:23am AKST.
Day 1891 ~ Mucking AboutNovember 19th, 2015
Went to Charlottesville then went around the north end. Checked out the dive shop at Speyside, then went in search of roti. Finally found a place in Roxborough and took it to the trailhead to eat it. Spring Trail is mentioned in the guide book as having a spring, but doesn't mention that it's actually located on the side of the road, not along the trail.
Day 1890 ~ Rental Mania BeginsNovember 18th, 2015
We wanted the kids to do a little school so arranged to start the car rental at Noon. Cindy from Econo Rentals was gracious enough to come fetch us from the beach so Bill and I went to complete all the necessary paperwork while the rest gathered lunch, cameras and supplies. As we got in the car, Cindy told us to "just put Super". Nice.
The girls made their little cocoon in the back and we assumed position and were off. We took the road on the west side of the island and headed north. Winding and curving around, it was beautiful and we passed very little traffic. We found an old waterwheel in Arnos Vale at what used to be a plantation and sugar factory in the mid-1800s. It had recently succumbed to a huge fire that destroyed everything but the metal and stone parts, but still made for great photography subject.
Continuing northward, we aimed for the Parlatuvier waterfall in the guidebook. A 10-minute walk from the main road, we found a lovely pool between two small falls. Because we're cruisers, we plan our tourist attractions carefully with multipurpose in mind. Tinka came prepared with soap and shampoo to take advantage of copious amounts of free fresh water. Can't beat that.
We then crossed over through the park's mountain pass to the windward side of the island. This is definitely the more travelled and the traffic streaming out of Scarborough was near constant. I'm not sure the road was more windy, or it just felt like it while passing drivers who assume the middle of the road is the correct position to drive.
Day 1889 ~ Pounding PavementNovember 17th, 2015
I found Sheppy's Car Rental on the web and it seemed to have high marks and good prices, not to mention the best rental website I've ever seen. I asked about the availability of a little 6-seater van called a Suzuki Carry for the afternoon and she said she would have the answer in a half hour. Two hours later, I phoned her and she said that there are no vehicles available until the end of February. Hmm, that information wasn't obvious when I first rang her? Odd.
I got a couple more no answers so, Bill, Tinka, Peter and I went in search of dive and rental car prices by foot. Being near the airport, at least 20 are placed within a short walk; we asked at least half. Prices remained static and no one had a Carry. We turned the corner for the airport road and the guy working the corner shop started bargaining with us when we told him we had a couple more to try. Now we're talking, flexible pricing. We spotted three Carry vans in the Thrifty lot, among the 30 or so other choices, and the lady, at first, said they were available and that we could go look if we liked. However, when we returned, she was on the phone and, all of a sudden, they were all destined for service. A conspiracy theorist may speculate if the deal maker and this lady were working together, but no sense dallying. Across the street at the airport, a Rental Association sign beckoned us and the lady there gave us a pretty good deal on a station wagon at $47/day. She said her son is quite comfortable in the very back so it would be easy to accommodate our six. This was nice to hear as we were planning the same thing, only we generally don't mention that to the rental shops.
While we had her ear, we asked about this rule of 'only filling rentals with Premium Unleaded'. Premium, of course, is the most expensive gas at $3.50USD/gal, followed by Super at $1.65/gal. She flatly replied that this was just a ploy to get the tourists to put the more expensive gas in the tanks. She mocked, "Do you think that the rental company staff pays for Premium when they fill up the cars?!? No way. They aren't going to pay more; they just want the tourists to pay more." She also added that, with her cars, she tells the renter to just put in Super. After all, they are just rental cars and Super isn't going to hurt the vehicles. Finally, the real story from a no-nonsense soul. We told her that we had a couple more to try and we'd get back to her if we still wanted the car.
We spotted our last two down a little alley (felt a bit like the low rent district) and split up to get this chore finished. The first gave the standard price and the employee washing one of the cars at the second told us Cindy would return "in ten minutes." No Carry van, but she did have a Wingroad station wagon. A business man pulled up about then and started picking little berries from the tree which tasted, to me, a little fermented (he did say "some like them, some don't"). We chatted and he said his business rate for the little car was 250TT ($40), 50TT less than the others' base prices. He proceeded to highly recommend EconoCar as the best place to rent, with the best prices. I guess we'll stick around for "10 minutes" after all.
Twenty minutes later he called the manager and then dashed off, calling out the open window, "Better bring cash with you when you pay; the machine's not working today." Another 10 minutes and Cindy returns. Her station wagon is 250TT per day so we booked two days and Cora and Nika started planning what sorts of pillows they should bring for the back storage area where they would sit.
Day 1888 ~ Kid on Kid TimeNovember 16th, 2015
Mending, but ears still full. Nika's also feeling better and was back at her lessons. We attempted to get water at the local bar, but they are closed Mondays. Peter got a ride-share to the mall to get a few bits and pieces. We were planning to move around to Buccoo Bay, but Proud Mary tried it on their way south to meet up with us and said it was horribly rolly. I think we'll stay put.
After lessons, Nika and Cora played heartily on the back steps and in the water. Both have been sick and, being only children, were in desperate need of some kid to kid time.
We also just got word that Nana and her hosts on Daystar have finally reached Guyana, South America. They left Tobago on Friday morning followed by three and a half days of sailing. The Spot shows them just inside the Essequibo River.
Day 1887 ~ Cleaning FrenzyNovember 15th, 2015
Sick all weekend so opted to putter and clean. Managed to de-mold the galley and salon. Nice to have white walls again.
Where's Nana? Right here at 4:22pm.
Day 1886 ~ A Different Type of Sunday SchoolNovember 14th, 2015
Proud Mary has been in Charlottesville and looking to move south toward us. The plan was to meet them tomorrow in Buccoo, one bay up, but then Bill read about their version of Sunday School which starts at 10pm and goes all night with loud music and partying. Guess we'll wait 'til Monday to rendezvous. Gives me an extra day to lay low and hope my ears clear up soon.
Where's Nana? Right here at 9:19am AKST.
Day 1885 ~ Mountains of PaperworkNovember 13th, 2015
Long night, but slow and easy sailing. A couple quick rain bursts. At one point, about 1am, we had an all-too-close pass with a freighter, but otherwise it was uneventful.
Arrived around 6am just as the sun was coming up. Much easier to pick up a mooring ball in the light. We put the boat back together, tidied up, Peter took a nap and then were off to find Customs and Immigration.
In all of Tobago, there are maybe a handful of docks. The island really doesn't cater to cruisers and even the fishermen and day charter businesses often use mooring buoys. Perhaps it's because the island runs SW to NE so any decent north swell with just smash a pier to bits. Either we deal with the lack or stay on our boat the whole time so we ventured in, held the dinghy in the sea between a beach post and the breakwater and hoped for the best. Seeking transportation, the locals were friendly and told us not to worry about our dinghy, they would be around all day. Famous last words in a few islands, but they seemed genuine and not just out trying to make a buck by 'watching our dinghy' for us. First order of business was to procure local currency and bus tickets so they pointed us in the direction and we set off.
The first bank kept Peter's card due to it being past its expiration, the next bank gave me and error so had to return to the card-eating bank in hopes it wouldn't eat mine too. Well, we managed to leave with money and card in hand and head for Jimmy's Mini Mart for the tickets. Buses in Trini are cheap. For 2TT (31US cents), one can get to the main town of Scarborough, about a 30-45 min. drive. However, in chatting with the owner of a rental car shop next to the bus stop, he mentioned that they "don't come around very often" (and I just saw one pass five minutes prior). Not to worry as one can just give the proper hand signal indicating destination point, in this case an open hand facing down, and a local will often stop to give a lift. Granted, here they expect payment for this service (the shop owner said to expect 8-10TT), but it beats waiting a long time in the sun or paying 80TT for a taxi.
We motioned to several cars and one guy finally blinked his headlights and stopped. At 7TT ($1.10USD) per person, we hopped in and were off. He dropped us outside of the ferry terminal and we managed to find our way to Immigration. Caribbean governments love paperwork, and Trinidad & Tobago are no different. Clearance filled out in duplicate, a health certification signed to say we bring no communicable diseases and another declaring that we carried no stowaways (the flying fish doesn't count). The guy was friendly enough, which helps the whole process, but then we were told that the immigration officer required to stamp our passports would be on her way from Crown Point shortly; the very same area our boat is located. Since it would be "about 20 minutes", he invited us to walk around town or stay put, whichever we prefer. Having gotten only a few hours of sleep on our 24 hour sail, we opted to just sit and wait...and wait...and wait. He came out every 10 minutes or so to assure us she was still 'on her way'.
Caribbean economy health seems to often be calculated by the temperature of the room and the availability of cheap transportation. Frigid rooms and few busses means an economy is doing well. In Grenada, city buses (small vans) run often, but many offices limit their A/C to only inner offices. Not in Trinidad or Tobago. Most people have their own cars (complete with plenty of traffic snarls) so buses are few and far between and the waiting room felt like winter in Alaska. I finally had to go stand outside the door to thaw out.
About 45 minutes later, the officer finally did come, stamped our passports and sent us on our way, a process that took her about 5 minutes. Why there wasn't another employee who could wield and ink pad and stamp is beyond us, but one doesn't ask those questions of those who are capable of accepting or denying our entry. We bought some bananas for breakfast on the way to Customs where we proceeded with only 30 minutes of paperwork and our 50TT ($7.85) entrance fee. The officer was friendly and kind enough to change our 06:45 arrival to 08:45 in order to save us paying overtime fees (anything outside the hours of 8am-4pm, M-F); compare that to my additional 'overtime fee' (by nine minutes) at SVG's Immigration because Customs signed me out at 4:09pm (even though their regular office hours are until 6pm). I didn't even mind having to fill out the entire clearance form again because he put the second sheet wrong side up behind the carbon paper.
We returned to the ferry terminal where both taxis and private cars alike line up to take people wherever they want to go. Peter started walking away at the taxi's quote of 80TT, so he came back with a 10TT offer per person if we would let him fill the van with others. After watching several locals handing over 6TT for slightly shorter stops, I think we ended up with the 'clueless tourist price', but by only 3TT (47 cents) so we can't complain too much. Four hours after we started our check-in journey, we were back on the boat. Not bad, all things considered.
Proud Mary bussed down from Charlotteville in the northeast end where they've been anchored and we made plans for connecting and diving.
Day 1884 ~ EnrouteNovember 12th, 2015
Our neighbor's anchor was located off our port side so, when he upped anchor at 5:30am, we took notice considering it was rattling about 10 feet from our bedroom window. It was time anyway, to be on our own way. We've a long haul ahead so best to get an early start.
GPS location Date/Time:11/12/2015 01:00:03 AKST
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GPS location Date/Time:11/12/2015 19:05:23 AKST
Day 1883 ~ Land DiseaseNovember 11th, 2015
I caught some sort of bug. It's been brewing in my sinuses ever since departing Grenada, but now I have a sore throat and stuffy ears. No surprise as several cruisers and landies we know were dropping like flies soon after the trick-or-treat and Halloween party, Nika included. I don't even remember the last time I was sick, but feeling miserable on passage is just that, miserable. We've decided to sail to Tobago tomorrow, we're down two crew and Nika is also still feeling under the weather. With Pippin a land-lubbing non-sea dog, it'll be up to Peter to take the lion's share of the weight. If it's calm, it won't be a big deal because, even in my malaise, I can relieve Peter by at least standing up and looking around every 15 minutes.
Needless to say, I took a day off. Nika and Ally went off to swim and play at the beach and stayed all day long. Our boat's a mess but, thankfully, catamarans don't have to have everything packed away like monohulls do. We'll just deal with the chaos later when we have a few more coherent parties in the group.
Day 1882 ~ Clearing InNovember 10th, 2015
Considering we left Grenada on Saturday, it's now Tuesday and our plan is to sail to Tobago on Thursday, we figured it's time to officially clear into the country; thankfully, SVG doesn't seem to be concerned with cruisers' transportation times. We went ashore and filled out the necessary forms, in triplicate of course. Once stamped, stapled and money collected ($13 pp), the next counter, immigration, must do their own stapling as well. They're the ones who stamp our passports so we're official visitors.
Next stop was Doris' Fresh Foods, a small grocery store packed to the gills with just about everything one might need out in the Caribbean wilderness. The isles are too narrow for any grocery cart so she has a stack of wicker baskets customers can use. All is at a price, of course, but when you're desperate...
Ally Cat, who left Grenada well before us, is anchored here as well so wanted to catch up with them. After lessons, Ally and Nika went off to the beach and swim after lessons then they all came over for dinner.
Day 1881 ~ Going SoftNovember 9th, 2015
We left Frigate Rock after a leisurely morning of swimming and doing some hand laundry. It had rained buckets the night before, the wind shrieking through the rigging. The gray walls marched east and by about 10am the sky was brightening. The air felt dryer and almost crispy. Perfect. With only 25 miles to Bequia, it should be an easy run.
We upped anchor and got the main up. After motoring east to clear Union Island we turned North and settled into a nice pointing configuration. Wind about 40 degrees, COG about 015. It's very difficult to feel, but even our boat has a "groove" when pointing. After some fiddling, things started to feel really nice.
We sailed under the lee of Mayreau, wishing we could stop, but decided to keep pushing to Bequia. Once clear of Mayreau the winds filled in smartly and we were ripping along. A few more sail tweaks and we saw 8.5 then 9.1 in about 25 knots of apparent wind. Nika and I were sitting on the back combing and enjoying the feeling of speeding along, almost silent. High clouds obscured the sun, making it cool and comfortable.
After about a half hour we were approaching Canouan. It has a fairly high peak and, around this and running off to the south (towards us), a demonstrable "rip" or ridgeline in the clouds developed and darkened. Small tails could be seen being pulled downward. Alarm bells went off in my head. "Take in the head sail; this doesn't look so good" etc.
The wind continued and the boat was happy. It felt so good to be out of Grenada and actually sailing. The last few days had been ideal. It just felt wrong to break the mood. Everything would be just fine. The mangos ripen whether you stress about it or not, right?
Dark became darker. The line was advancing. "Nika, come help me get in the head sail", I said. Nika untangled her ear buds from her body and Lisa started to move towards her station when it hit: 25 - 28 - 32 - 36 - 40 - 42. Visibility dropped to a few hundred feet. The sheets (lines connected to sails) were popping as the load increased. Rain hit in a deluge. We turned and ran to reduce the apparent wind. With it down to about 26, we managed to roll the headsail in with a fury, flapping like an offended samurai on speed. We were also tearing down wind at a frightful pace, losing in minutes what takes miles to regain against the prevailing currents of air and water. I ran the helm to starboard.
Once facing windward again, with apparatus in the mid-to high 30s, I attempted to hold station or work gently to windward. First one way then the next, the winds were swirling and fickle. Like a politician caught with a smelly donation in their pocket. At one point, the main luffed violently, then filled on the opposite tack. The helm rammed to one side as we started actually going backwards.
I fired off the port engine to help maintain position and steering. After dropping it into gear, I looked right and saw a tangle of purple lines running off the hard top and over the starboard stern, trailing in the water. My new, shiny, purple lazy jack had parted a splice. Sure glad I hadn't started the starboard engine, by chance. In a few seconds I had the salty pile aboard and glanced at the hard top. It was a tangle of lazy jack parts and pieces. Argh, another project.
But, first, the squall. With the main sheeted in fairly tight to prevent the boom hammering back and forth, once again the wind flipped over. Now the main sheet and engine were both trying to kick us to starboard. With only a knot and a half of way on, the rudders could compensate. Naturally, I blew the main sheet to ease weather helm. There was a run, and then a pause, and then a sickening, BANG! "What was that?!" Lisa yelled.
"I have not the faintest clue," I said, with perhaps one of the stupidest looks plastered on my face since the first loser died with a fork in his toaster. Jumping up on the combing, I had to blink twice to believe my eyes. The lazy jack parts had hooked my newest solar panel and ripped it out of the hard top. It was now acting as a mainsheet preventor. Brackets were ripped and twisted. The panel itself was in a horrible posture. I grabbed at my left pocket. No knife. I had changed into swim trunks earlier. "Please acquire me a cutting instrument," I calmly asked Lisa.
"Get me the knife. NOW!" was probably a lot closer to reality.
She passed one up in two seconds. Three quick slashes and the panel came crashing back to earth while the boom ran out to the extent of its legitimate traveler. Now, in addition to shards of lazy jack, there were screws, twisted bracket, boom back folds and wiring in a nice display of spaghetti with a side of garlic toast.
And the wind shrieked on.
After checking that there really were no more lines in the water, I fired the second engine and started motoring for the protection of Canouan, about 2 miles to windward. Lisa pulled up the weather radar and there the dot over us was about the size of a small pea, while something akin to a watermelon was about 30 miles to windward. Nice. We finally got the main down, which promptly fell to the side with no lazy jacks, covering our spaghetti with a nice frosting of white. So purdy.
I used some pieces of old lazy jack to lash the main into a wad and started thinking about anchoring. We picked Corbay on the northwest side, which shows an anchor on our chart. Liars. After dropping and snorkeling, I found the bottom to be comprised of medium to smallish boulders. We upped and moved farther out, no longer really protected in the bay, but at last did find a patch of sand and grass.
Took an hour to clean up the mayhem, send Nika half way up the mast to re-thread a new lazy jack and get it all tied up. It was only 3:00pm. Being in a rotten anchorage for a couple of days of bad weather didn't sound too enticing, so we upped anchor and headed out for Bequia. The big blob never came, but instead just sort of fizzled out. After a couple of hours of nice sailing, we made it, with throttles to the wall, into the anchorage as the last vestiges of twilight faded away. We could just spot a sandy patch and get the Spade down as lights ashore winked on under the gathering darkness.
Guess Grenada left me soft and the sea never slumbers.
- Corbay, L'Ance Guyac Point, Canouan, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean
- Port Elizabeth Harbour, Bequia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean
Day 1880 ~ Quiet RestNovember 8th, 2015
A quiet morning with a bit of rain to start off the day. We finally have breeze too, a small strip of low-lying sand and shrub keeps the anchorage calm and the wind generator happy. I woke early and was motivated to purge and clean. It's been so hot the last three months, that it's hard to find the energy to do anything, let alone work. My plan is to take a small section of boat every few days and give it a thorough going-over. Should take 2-3 weeks.
I've also got a new mold-eating product that a fellow Alaskan cruiser told me about and Peter's parents brought down from the states. Nana cleaned her room before leaving (i.e. excavated to find her bed again), but the walls in the bedroom and bathroom we use for storage already had a faint black haze covering them; I washed them last about 4-5 months ago. Nika helped me and we first took everything out. I then scrubbed walls and wiped then down with Concrobium, after which we set out to put everything back, minus mold and trash. Next was the communal kid bathroom in Nina's room. I initially was only going to go through the medicine cabinet, but one thing leads to another and...
By mid-afternoon, I stopped myself from tackling the whole boat at once. Nika and I sat down for a few rounds of Sorry! for the best two out of three while Peter took a nap. When he awoke, we moved on to Uno of which he lost a few games before giving up.
The sun came out late in the day so Peter and Nika took Pippin for a romp on terra firma and we settled down to a dinner of three and a movie. Rather strange having only one child.
Where's Nana? Right here at 4:20am AKST.
Day 1879 ~ New AnchorageNovember 7th, 2015
Shortly after sun-up, Peter began the tedious process of removing from the anchor almost four months of growth. Thankfully, he had done some prep work last week so it only took two hours to finally be free of our small aquarium, similar to growing roots for land-lubbers. We passed Daystar and Nana to our starboard at 8:30am and put Hartman Bay behind us, perhaps permanently this time.
A good weather window for many, we saw at least six boats in the horizon ahead of us. Maybe they didn't stay and grow so much on their chains. Smooth sailing the rest of the way, even in the lee of Grenada. Normally, we would stop in at Carriacou while the sun was shining, but a couple of cruiser dogs, as well as some local ones, have recently eaten poisoned food and died. One was shortly after we arrived in Grenada and the other happened just last week on the same trail we took Pippin earlier this summer. The half-starving stray population kills farmers' goats and this is how the locals take care of that problem. Owned dogs are an unfortunate by-product of that solution; it's not worth the risk to us and our mobility allows us to deal with the problem in our own way. It's obvious that the poisoners do not rely on cruiser dollars for sustenance and don't care about their neighbors who do.
The good news is that we have frequented our destination many times so are familiar with the anchorage. Near 7pm and surrounded by a moonless night, we were relieved to see only three other boats. We managed to find a sandy patch the second attempt and settled in for the night.
Day 1878 ~ Passing Off KidsNovember 6th, 2015
Joe came to collect Nina and I from the dock at 5:30am. There waiting were the few remaining Camp Grenada friends. Most of the others have already left and gotten their own proper send-off. Some couldn't go to the airport, but Nana and three others hopped in the van and off we went. The airport was near deserted at this early hour, even those on the same flight were few so she got checked in and through security by 6am. By 2:30p, with a five hour layover in Barbados, she arrived safely in St. Maarten. Granted, in LIAT (aka Luggage In Any Terminal) fashion, her suitcase went off on its own adventure and wouldn't arrive to roost until tomorrow morning.
Nana spent most of the day getting ready and packing. Since we planned to leave for SVG at first light, we dinghied her over to Daystar before bedtime. Nika and Pippin we're keeping around.
Day 1877 ~ A Second ProposalNovember 5th, 2015
On Tuesday, Michelle of Discovery emailed us wondering if we would consider having Nina fly up for two weeks to stay with Kate. The rest of the family will be gone, but Kate needs to stay behind to care for the animals and teach her dance classes. A friend was going to stay on the boat with her, but had a last-minute emergency trip back to Canada to deal with some health issues. While she could have stayed ashore with friends, their boat is in the marina and they have plenty of people to look in or help out. If Nina could stay with her, the two are quite responsible and resourceful and it would make life for Discovery much simpler. Only catch is we needed to make the decision quickly as John flies out on Monday so, last night, we agreed to let a second one go.
John bought Nina's ticket; she leaves tomorrow morning.
Day 1874 ~ NotaryNovember 2nd, 2015
Lessons in the morning and then Peter and I set off after lunch, closing documents and passports in hand. The lawyer's office is in a residential area on the L'Anse aux Epines peninsula. We entered a small office in the front, but then were ushered through the kitchen into a dining room stacked with papers around the periphery. Must be a home office.
Turns out, in Grenada (and many other parts of the world), only lawyers can be notaries, which would explain why we keep ending up in lawyers' offices. However, she must buy her gold seals from the US. In short order, we were finished and sent on our way. I'll head off to FedEx tomorrow morning to send the papers home.
Day 1873 ~ Closing SoonNovember 1st, 2015
Our Alaska home, which has been under a sales contract since end of August, is very close to selling. We were emailed closing documents and asked to find a notary. We had to do this once before but, at the time, we were in Dominica when our land sale went through. Being as though we found a lawyerly notary there, finding one in Grenada wasn't an issue either and we have the Cruisers' Net to help. At last resort, the US Embassy will sign for $50USD per notary stamped page, but the local lawyer will do it for 50EC ($18.60USD) each and her office is a 15 minute walk from our anchorage and our appointment is at 2pm.