Wednesday, March 28, 2018

St. Lucia, Martinique and Dominica

It has been a long time since our last post.  The problem has been a lack of reliable Internet access not boredom.  I will try to do better.

We stayed on St Lucia for another week and a half, leaving on the 25th.  We had a weather event that caused almost continuous strong winds so we chose to stay in our little protected bay and ride it out.  Not that we had to stay on the boat all of the time.  We got together several times with our neighbors for activities such as a trip to a distillery for a tour and rum tasting.  This is the only time we have been to a tasting that did not limit the amount you tasted.  If you found one or two of their eighteen rums you could just stop there and sip until you couldn’t anymore.  From there we all continued at Doolittles Bar, named for the movie that was shot here, Dr. Doolittle for more rum drinks.  We also all scheduled a tour of the island which gave us a chance to see more of the interior, the southern end and the Atlantic coast.  We also had several days of rain which kept us aboard but things still got done.  The chaps that Cori made to protect the dinghy were in pretty bad shape and she had gotten some material before we left Trinidad so she took the down time to make a new cover.  The UV is harsh and will really age your dingy if it is not protected in some way.  I took the opportunity to service a couple of winches which means disassembling, cleaning and giving the parts a good coating of grease before reassembling, without dropping anything overboard.  We had an unusual interaction with one of the boats near us one evening.  One of the men swam over to explain that they were fixing dinner and had run out of propane.  Could they bring their pot over to cook for about ten minutes to finish it?  How do you say no to that?  They were from Poland, spoke good English and visited while the dinner continued to cook, thanked us profusely and gave us some of their desert before going back to their boat to eat.  On the 24th the weather patterns changed back to somewhat normal so we pulled anchor to move up the coast to Rodney Bay.  Rodney Bay is a big bay and many boats had been riding out the winds there and were eager to move.  We arrived, dropped anchor and settled in to spend the night before moving on in the morning.  Rodney Bay is a very popular location for the cruisers as it has a large anchoring field, a marina, shopping and a lot of restaurants.  Unfortunately, this year it also has dingy thieves.  At one point I had counted seven reports of dinghies being stolen or attempts to steal before we arrived.  We kept our dinghy securely attached to us overnight.  We plan on checking it out further on our way back down.

It was time to move on; we had checked out of St Lucia and were headed to Martinique in the morning.  The winds were cooperative and we had a great sail up to St. Anne on the Island of Martinique.  We joined the crowd of about a hundred boats and as we arrived we were contacted by Dean and Kim on Dreamcatcher.  We had first met them when we were in Nassau getting our transmission replaced several years ago.  They filled us in on what is going on and gave us some suggestions for shopping and dining.  They were taking advantage of the fair winds and were leaving in the morning.  It was good to get caught up again.  In the morning we went ashore to check in.  In every country we have to check in and out with Immigration and Customs.  This being a French island it is much easier.  The French have figured out how to put the whole process on a computer and have set up several locations to simplify the process.  St Anne has a small cafĂ© with the computer so we were able to check in and have lunch later.  The other countries give you the forms to be filled out in triplicate and may or may not have carbon paper to help.  Yes, they are still using carbon paper and using it over and over.  We spent the rest of the day checking out St Anne which is a small town with a lot of shops catering to the cruisers and tourists.  Like many of the towns we have visited they have a beautiful old church.  We are visiting a lot of churches this season.  Further into the bay is La Marin, large protected harbor with several marinas, a mooring field and an area to anchor.  They also have dinghy access to grocery stores and marine stores.  After the devastation that the hurricanes did to the Virgin Islands many of the cruisers have moved here to spend their winter and the harbor has several hundred boats docked, moored and anchored.  We provisioned, walked around the town a bit, had lunch and went back to our boat and got ready to head out again.  Large crowded anchorages are not our thing.  We moved up the coast to a small bay, dropped anchor and settled in.  Our friends on Artic Vixen were here so we were able to get together for drinks before they moved on in the morning.   We stayed for a couple of days, checking out the town, the church, did some snorkeling and Cori kayaked to some beaches to look for more sea-glass.  The weather forecast started warning about a change bringing in a west wind and few of the harbors are protected for west winds.  We moved again choosing to go up to Fort du France Bay and tuck into a corner with excellent protection.  While others were dealing with winds and waves we were sitting in flat calm waters.  We were at the community of Trois Ilets, which I believe translates to Three Islands since there were three small islands next to us.  The biggest thing to have happened in Trois Ilets is that it is the birthplace of Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon who caused all that commotion in France and eventually sold us the Louisiana Purchase to help pay for his wars.  Yes, that Napoleon.  Once the winds turned back to normal we moved across the bay to Fort du France and anchored next to the fort built in the 1700’s.  We spent a couple of days seeing the sights, doing a bit of shopping and being tourists.  I didn’t mention but this being a French Island everyone speaks French and a few speak English.  We however know about four words of French.  I can greet you hello and good bye, say thank you and try to excuse myself (pardon) and that is about it.  From here we moved up the island to St Pierre.  The history of St Pierre is that it was the first settlement on Martinique in the 1600’s.  It continued to grow and prosper, being referred to as “the Paris of the Caribbean”.  By 1900 it had a population of 30,000.  In May of 1902 the volcano, Mount Pelee, erupted sending a super-heated cloud of gas and ash into the city and within minutes approximately 29,633 people died.  There were only two survivors, one who was in a basement jail cell when it happened.  He eventually went on to appear in Barnum and Bailey’s circus side show displaying the burns he received.  The town has rebuilt and now has a population of about 4000, but there are still ruins hat have not been removed or built over and it is said that almost every building is using at least one wall that was built before the event.  We did a hike up Mount Pelee one day.  We made it about a third of the way then called it quits and worked our way down.  It was one of the more difficult hikes we have tried this season.  I have been trying to get pictures of the mountain without its customary cloud cover and this day the top was clear.  Cori is in seventh heaven since she found that the beach is filled with sea-glass and has been collecting jars and bags of it.  After about a week we checked out and in the morning moved up to Dominica.

Our original plan for the season was to go north as far as Dominica.  After the devastation caused by hurricane Maria, we decided not to go there.  While in St Pierre we met up with our friends on Roxy who had just returned from Dominica.  They strongly encouraged us to go.  As we say “plans are written in sand at low tide” we made a change of plans, checked out of Martinique and headed off to Dominica.  In the process of checking out we found a restaurant that offers a check in/out computer and good Wi-Fi, finally.  In the early morning we motored out of the anchorage and up the coast, catching a good wind when we approached the northern tip of the island.  From there we had one of the most enjoyable sails of the season.  We made the decision to stop for the evening and night in Roseau, the capital city.  We picked up a mooring ball, payed too much for it and settled in.  The cruising guide suggested this anchorage and gave the identifying feature as the Anchorage Hotel with the white roof.  Things have changed.  The hotel is still there, the windows are all missing and the roof is also.  Taking a good look around with the binoculars it was plain to see that most of the buildings with blue roofs were blue tarps covering a missing or damaged roof.  We spent the night, not bothering to go ashore and check in and left the next morning to go to Portsmouth.  Portsmouth has a large protected bay and a lot of services enjoyed by cruisers.  You are met coming in by a “boat-boy” who welcomes you and offers to help with a mooring or you can anchor there.  We chose a mooring with the thought that they ae trying to recover from the hurricane and any money they earn will help work its way through the community.  The “boat-boys” in this bay have organized themselves to eliminate competing with each other and offer many services.  You need water?  Not a problem, Need to get rid of you trash? Not a problem.  Need a ride in and to Customs? Not a problem.  Interested in any tours? Not a problem.  Most islands you have multiple boat-boys coming around offering the same services and it can become annoying.  Here they stop by to say hello and ask if you have any problems and what can they do for you.  Also, there is a lot of “thank you for visiting our island.”  We decided to stay for a week.

Now some information of hurricane Maria.  Dominica took a direct hit from a category 5 storm in 2017.  Winds were reported as sustained 160 mph with gusting even higher.  There is a population of about 70,000 but miraculously there were only 37 deaths.  98% of the building lost or received roof damage, half the houses received frame damage or were destroyed, the leaves on the vegetation was stripped off and many trees were blown down along with virtually all of the power poles supplying electricity.  The once lush tree covered mountains were cleared of their leaves and many branches, only now are the trees trying to push out new branches and foliage.  All crops such as bananas and any other above ground crop were destroyed.  We heard many stories during our stay.

Back to our visit, what did we do?  We took a tour up the Indian River.  This is a very scenic ride with no motors allowed (National Park) so we got a lot of information from the guide as he poled us up the river.  At the turn around spot there is a small bar and we were taken on a short walk to learn of the plants and wildlife in the area.  We also saw what the river looked like after the hurricane, completely covered by fallen trees and brush, completely impassable.  Prior to the hurricane the river was covered with a canopy of trees.  They have done a great job of clearing the fallen trees.  We spent a morning at an elementary school helping paint to cover the damage done by flying debris.  We took an island tour, quite an eye opener seeing the damage all over the island.  The highlight of the tour was when we stopped for a swim at what they were referring to as “the caves”.  It is a narrow gorge that you swim into and about 200 feet in is a waterfall.  Fortunately the area under the falls is shallow so you can touch bottom and enjoy the falling water.  It was breathtaking.  This is my all-time favorite activity since we started cruising four years ago.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.  We did some hiking with one trail just about doing me in.  The sad part was when we reached the end of the path that has been cleared we could not continue and had to turn around and follow the path back.  We visited the fort and climbed to the upper gun batteries.  Everything is uphill since the island is really nine volcanic mountains jutting out of the ocean.  We found the bakery and ate at several restaurants and the final night of our stay the PAYS group (the boat-boys) had one of their BBQs to raise money for the relief efforts.  There wasn’t much we could do for them other than spend money to help the economy so we did our best.

Our week was up and it was time to leave again.  Now we would start making our way South.  We left the anchorage with a good wind but quickly fell into the shadow of the island and had a variety of wind conditions along the way.  When the winds died we motored, when the winds came up a little we sailed with all of the sails up and when the winds built we reefed the main to reduce how much sail we had up.  As we approached the bottom of the island the winds were funneling between the two islands and they built to 20-25 knots.  We still had the mainsail reefed but we should have taken it down and sailed under the mizzen and headsail but neither of us wanted to go on deck to drop it so we continued with too much sail giving a rougher ride then necessary.  Too much sail causes the boat to heel over excessively and actually makes you sail slower.  We were however doing 7-8 knots but it was uncomfortable.  Further out into the gap the winds dropped a bit and stayed pretty constant at 20 knots.  The highlight of the trip was being greeted by a pod of dolphins when we reached Martinique.  We have not seen dolphins for a long time.  We continued down to St Pierre and dropped anchor.  In the morning we went ashore, stopped at a bakery for croissants, coffee and a diet coke then went to the tourist office to check in.  Cori headed to the beach to pick more sea-glass and I went back to the boat to read and update this blog.  We met back for a late lunch at the restaurant with the good Wi-Fi then back to the boat where I relaxed and Cori went back to shore for more beach combing.  This morning Cori is back on the beach picking more glass and I am hanging out on the boat relaxing, reading and writing.  Later I will go in and see about posting this.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Grenadines to St Lucia

It’s been a while since I have posted but not a lot has happened.  It has been windy, very windy.  We are having what Chris Parker, our weather expert, considers an unusual weather pattern.  Basically a number of things are happening causing the prevailing winds to be from the northeast and blowing consistently in the 20’s and into the 30’s at times.  This means we just find a good harbor and hunker down.

We left Bequai hoping for a less crowded harbor at the island of Mayreau.  We ended up staying there four days while the wind blew.  We did make it ashore a couple of times but it is a small island and doesn’t take too long to see it all.  The winds were supposed to drop for a couple of days and we were rolling side to side almost constantly so we moved to the other side of the island and anchored in what is called the Tobago Cays which is part of a National Park.  It is a group of small islands with a reef protecting them from the ocean swell.  We were not the only ones that thought this was a good idea; there were a lot of boats there.  We chose our spot to anchor and settled in.  There were a number of boat coming and going on a regular basis, everything from small boats in the 30 foot range up to several mega yachts.  We were down by a section favored by wind surfers so we had several groups on day charters that would come out, anchor by us, spend the day windsurfing then go back to wherever they were staying and another group arriving the next morning.  My hip was still not feeling well so I stayed on the boat watching the neighbors and reading while Cori took the kayak to shore to see what there was to see: iguanas and a hike up to an overlook for a great view.  We had paid for two nights so we tried to take advantage of a weather window to move further north.  We stopped at Union Island to check out with Immigration and Customs then motored back to the anchorage in Mayreau to get in the lee of the island and raise the sails.  We choose to use just the main with two reefs and a full headsail.  This reduced the amount of sail we had up to compensate for the winds in the low 20’s.  We set a course pointing as close to the direction of the wind we could and set sail for an overnight trip.  The super-moon had been full two nights before so we had a very bright moon to keep us company, along with several cruise ships and various other maritime traffic.  What I did not notice was that the winds were shifting slightly and the current was pushing us more to the northwest.  In the morning were off of the island of St Lucia but were about 30 miles offshore.  We tacked and as we started to get into the lee of the island our speed was dropping.  We choose not to enter a harbor at night so it was time to fire up the motor and motor in.  The engine ran perfectly, we may have solved the problem.  After about five hours of motoring we entered Marigot Bay.  There is an anchorage area as you come in and then an opening that lets you into the inner harbor.  The inner harbor is filled with mooring balls, a marina and a resort along with a number of small bars and restaurants.  We choose to take a mooring from the marina- $30 US per day – and settled in for our first night without rocking and rolling.  It was bliss.  We booked for two nights but since the winds were still howling out in the anchorage we decided to stay several more.  The fact that we also had limited privileges at the resort didn’t hurt either.  We spent several days hanging out at their pool.  Our next problem was that along with the winds we got several short rain squalls each day.  This limited how much the solar panels were able to put out and the protection from the wind canceled out our new wind generator.  The boats were so close together that I didn’t want to ruin someone’s vacation by running my generator in the cockpit so our batteries were very low.  It was time to move out to the anchorage.  We have friends, Phillip and Theresa on Sea-Ya that were out in the anchorage so we moved out and anchored by them.  We had met them when we were in the Bahamas.  Now we were able to run the generator and make water without bothering any one.  On a side note we were able to watch the Superbowl at a close-by bar/restaurant called Doolittle’s.  It is named after the movie Dr. Doolittle that was filmed at the beach next to it.

We have been hanging out here in the anchorage while the wind blows.  We had several days of rain, more than just squalls and Cori was able to collect a half a tank of water with her rain-catcher.  The wind still has not let up.  One of the boats decided to make a run up to Rodney Bay which is about seven miles up the coast where the majority of the cruisers were waiting out the weather and after about four miles he turned back saying it was the worst conditions he had ever been in.  So we wait.  It isn’t as bad as it sounds, we are still able to go ashore, usually in the morning before the wind kicks up and we are getting to know most of the boat boys that come around selling fruit or whatever they have to sell.

The winds are forecast to drop in the next couple of days but then fire up again for another week.  We need to make the decision whether to stay put or move up to Rodney Bay and join the others.  There are advantages either way.

That’s it for now, as I said, not much has happened.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Bequai and local medical experience

We have made it to Bequia, part of St Vincent and the Grenadines. we left Granada on Monday, the 15th with plans for an early start. first we wanted to top off our fuel so we called the marina just at opening. There was already one boat at the dock and another waiting. We told them we would hang out and to call us when our turn came up. An hour and a half later we were called. No idea what that boat had been doing. Once at the dock we topped off the diesel and refilled the gasoline jerry jugs and were ready to go. It was now 11:00 am. So much for an early start. We motored out of the bay, turned downwind and put out the headsail, we were a sailboat again. We sailed down to the point and turned north. At this point we needed more sail so we put up the mizzen. This gave us more speed but as we started to get into the wind shadow of island we had to hoist the main. The winds were right off of the nose so we were beating into the waves and pinching into the wind. Not the most comfortable point of sail. After about ten miles we started to lose the wind and fired up the motor. After a couple of hours the engine started to act up. It was like it was being starved for fuel. The wind had come up some so we shut down the engine and continued to sail but not on a direct line. It was becoming obvious we were not going to make our destination, Carriacou, before sunset so we opted for plan B and motored slowly to Ronda Island and a small bay there. By motoring slowly we were able to keep the motor running. There was one other boat in the bay and after two tries we were securely anchored for the night. It turned out to be a very rolly night. In the morning I changed the fuel filter thinking that may be the problem. Off we went under sail again for Carriacou. We arrived in time for lunch then went ashore to check out of the country. Rather then stay the night in Tyrell Bay we chose to move around the other side of the island to get an early start. We picked up a mooring ball at the park at Sandy Island and went ashore to enjoy the beach. By morning no one had come by to collect the mooring fee so we raised the sails and sailed off at 7:00 am. We were again not able to run a direct line to the harbor but continued on as best we could. At one point when the winds got over 20 knots we had to stop and reef in the main to get better control of the boat. When we reached the halfway point we opted to start motoring the direct line, against the winds again. After several hours the engine started to act up again, it was evidently not a filter issue. I tied making a fuel diversion system to feed from a jerry can instead of the main tank but was missing one important part. We continued to sail making several tacks to get us close to the harbor then took our chances of motoring slowly until we chose a spot to anchor. Once again we got the anchor down before sunset.

In the morning we went ashore and met with Customs and Immigration and we are now officially in the county. We took the opportunity to walk around and see the immediate sites and pick up a few vegetables at the vegetable market. After a quick lunch we made a visit to a marine supply store to check if they had the parts I think I needs or the fuel system. Then it was back to the boat to rest.

All of these days just sitting while we traveled from island to island had pinched a nerve in my hip and I was having a hard time walking or sitting comfortably. By Friday morning it was much worse and I decided to see someone for help.

Thus begins my first experience with out to the US medical care. We chose a doctor that was advertised in the tourist guide and made our way to his office. His office was in a side room of his art gallery. He is a very good artist. The office consisted of an examination table a desk two chairs a stool and a small cabinet and the walls were covered in artwork. He is French but spoke passable English and I speak no French. I explained my problem several times, he checked my pulse and poked at the site of the pain. That was the complete examination. Then he pulls out several drawers and starts sorting through a variety of drugs. He finally settles on a pain pill that he poured into a zip lock bag and a muscle relaxant that he put into another zip lock. He apologized for not having enough of the other drug but gave me a prescription to have filled. This was the first time either of us wrote something down and he spelled my name wrong. He added the dosage instructions and we were done. No paperwork had been filled out by either of us. I asked how much I owed him for the visit and drugs and he replied “$100 EC or about $37 US. Off I limped to the pharmacy and after getting a weeks worth of Prednisolone and paying $8.40 EC or $3.10 US we were back to the boat. His advice was to go to bed and stay off the leg for several days. He also mentioned losing some weight. Quite a difference from seeing a doctor in the US.

I used the days laying around to run the generator and make water and read. The main reason we came up to Bequai was to attend the music festival. I rested all day then in the evenings went to the different performances. It was a very good time with a wide variety of music from many of the islands and from the States. The performances started at either 8:00 or 9:00 in the evenings so it made for some late nights for us. Fortunately I had been taking a lot of naps. On the second night we ran into our friends Ricardo and Signe who we had met last year in the BVI. They are back this year from France with their new boat, and what a boat it is.

We were able to watch the Vikings game at one of the bars but it didn’t turn out the way we had hoped. Cori has been out exploring some of the island while I have been layed up, she has an idea of what to do and where to go when I am up and about which should be any day now.

We plan on staying in the area for about a month visiting the various islands before checking out and moving north again.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Granada for the Holidays

The Holidays are over and we are still in Granada for a few more days, at least that is the plan.  As we sailors say “plans are written in the sand at low tide”, meaning they are subject to change at any time.

We have been taking part in a variety of activities while we are here.  We have participated in several more hashes.  Cori convinced the hash officers that she had been wrongfully accused of misdeeds and they agreed and subjected the accuser to the same punishment Cori had been subjected to.  She was not a happy hasher at that point.  The other hash was in the rain.  We thought it would stop raining in the afternoon and we would only have to deal with mud but were wrong.  It was a long hike in the jungle in the pouring rain, not the most fun.  We have done some touristy stuff such as checking out two of the forts built back in the 1700’s.  Unfortunately they are not in very good condition and not much is being done to preserve them.  We made a trip to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls for a day in the mountains and swimming in the pools.  We only made it to two of the falls but it felt great to be in fresh water instead of salt water.  We have attended several of the music nights at both the Brewery and at Nimrods Rum Shop as well as a trip to the container park.  The container park is close to the University and is sort of a food truck event, except instead of food trucks they have set up shipping containers to work out of with an open bar and seating area in the middle.  It is very popular with the students since the food and drinks are not expensive and very good.  Last weekend we attended the “Pure Granada Music Festival.  It is a completion among six singers for who will perform on the main stage at the big festival in April. There was some pretty good music performed.  This weekend there was a dinghy concert in the next bay.  They set up a barge and floating dock tied to an anchored tug and ferried people out for the show.  Everyone with a dinghy was then tied up to the barge/dock and then others tied off of them as more arrived.  There ended up with better than fifty dinghies tied together and you just climbed from one to the other to move around or to get to the bar on the barge.  There were two singers from the previous weekend and they put on a very good show.  At the end the dinghies all untied from each other and headed back to their boats.  We also went to tour the Spice Island Garden where it was interesting to hear of the medicinal uses for the various spices and plants.  We then visited a botanical garden with over 250 identified plants from around the world.

Those were some of the touristy things we did.

We spent the first week on a mooring ball in Prickly Bay and then moved further along the coast to Clarks Court Bay.  This bay is very popular with the cruisers for its easy access to Hog Island beach, a very popular hangout.  It also has the advantage of being closer for our friend Sperry to pick us up at various times.  Sperry is the local fisherman that we met last year and his wife is the teacher Cori brought supplies over for.  He dropped his kids off to ride with us on the trip around to the new bay, their first sailboat ride except that we motored all of the way.  We were invited to their house for Christmas Day and had a great time and got to eat a number of local foods that were new to us.  We also have been taking their daughter with us on several hashes and the trip to the waterfalls.

Several days leading up to New Year’s we had a rainy spell, but is has passed and everyone is out and about again.  With overcast days and intermittent winds I have had to run the generator more than I had planned.  This gives me the opportunity to make water since the water maker is an energy hog.  It is warm during the night and we try to keep things open for a breeze but we have a hatch just above the bed and it wakes me whenever I feel rain coming in.  Then we have to get up to close the open hatches.    After it passes we will open them up again until it rains again.  One night we were up at least four times to close things and then up again to open when it gets too hot to sleep.  These are just some of the trials and tribulations of cruising in the tropics.

New Year’s came and it was a quiet evening on the boat.  We had invited Sperry and his family to come out to the boat to watch the midnight fireworks but only he and his son were able to come out.  There was supposed to be fireworks off of the private island near us but they evidently got moved to the next bay where he now has a marina.  It also started to rain just at midnight but we did get to see some of the higher displays over the hills.  Around 1:00 am it let up and we got another display that had been postponed due to the rain.  The weather being what is was we invited them to spend the night.  The next day his son got another experience learning to kayak in Cori’s kayak.  I think spending the night on a “yacht” was high on his story list when he got back to school.

We have been here just over a month which is a problem since Customs only gave us a 30 day permit and we were on day 31 when I thought of it.  Today we made the move back to Prickly Bay and picked up a mooring ball and went in to Customs to get an extension and pay an overtime fee for doing this on a Sunday instead of a weekday.

Friday, December 22, 2017


First and foremost we want to wish anyone reading this a Merry Christmas!

We are in Granada, we thought we were ready and we almost were.

First we need to go back to Trinidad and revisit our final experiences there.  We had planned on being launched on Monday the 11th just before lunch so we could sit in the launch slip and check everything out.  We had serviced all of the thru-hull fittings and the rudder post and needed to make sure everything was good and there were no leaks.  Usually this is rushed since the yard needs to move on to the next boat.  There was evidently some miscommunication since they picked us up and then went to lunch.  This gave us a chance to touch up the last spots with bottom paint but now we would not have the luxury to take our time once in the water.  After lunch we were moved to the launch slip and lowered into the water.  Everything checked out okay and we fired up the engine to move out.  This was my next worry, would we start?  Fortunately she started right up and we pulled out of the slip.  That is when it got interesting.  The wind was starting to push us to the right (starboard) and I began counter-steering, and steering and steering.  I had the wheel full over and instead of turning to port she just kept going more to starboard.  I gave it some thought, quickly, and tried turning the other way.  Sure enough we straightened out.  I had connected the steering backwards.  We moved out to a mooring but it took us several tries to pick it up because I kept steering the wrong way.  Once tied to the mooring I went into the depths of the steering area and tried to figure it out.  It turned out the steering cable needed to be crossed as it goes down the pedestal.  We took the pedestal apart and reinserted the cable, connected it all back together and it appeared to work.   We spent the night on the mooring and made plans to check out of the country the next day and move up to Scotland Bay to spend the night and leave the next day.  On the way in to meet with Immigrations and Customs we stopped to talk to Ron, Penny and Jessica on Arctic Vixen since they had just returned from there.  We were informed that Immigration would check you out and you had 24 hours to leave but Customs gave you 3 hours.  It was time to change plans.  We decided to spend the night in Scotland Bay and come back the next morning to check out.  We motored to the bay without incident and dropped anchor in one of the most beautiful quiet bays on the island.  We were greeted then and in the morning by the sounds of the howler monkeys but did not see any.  In the morning we went to pull the anchor and check out but there was one hitch: the windlass would not work.  150 feet of chain out and no windlass.  After a lot of pulling by hand I had the anchor on the bow and we motored back to the mooring field to go in to check out.  Check out went smooth with the exception that Customs gave us an hour and a half leave or pay an overtime fee.  Back at the boat we dropped the mooring and headed out at about 3:45 pm.  Next stop Granada.

The weather forecast was for winds 10-15 knots from the east with waves 3-4 feet.  They were partially right – there was wind and waves.  The wind was more from the north-east and just at the limit we could sail against it and the waves were running a bit more than 4 feet but from the east, right on the beam causing considerable roll.  After about an hour and a half the sun set and we were on our way in the dark.  The winds settled to about 15-18 knots and shifted a little more to the east but we decided to just keep motoring instead of trying to raise the sails in the dark with the boat rolling severely.  We made good time, running 6-8 knots and made our way North.  Just before sunrise we were arriving at Granada and had to slow down a bit to wait for the sun to come up.  We do not enter a harbor in the dark.  Once it was light enough we moved into the crowded anchorage and picked up a mooring just after sunrise.  Another successful night passage with a couple of rain showers.  We waited aboard until Immigration and Customs opened up.  We got checked in and then paid the marina for a week on the mooring and went back to the boat for a long nap.

Friday Cori took care of some business getting propane tanks filled and such while I started taking the windlass apart.  It turned out that water had gotten into the gearing and over the summer rusted everything.  With lots of scraping, wire brushing and spraying with solvents I got everything cleaned up, got most of the bearings turning and left it overnight to loosen the remaining bearings.  While taking a break from this a boat came over and informed us we were on their private mooring.  We dropped off and motored around to pick up one of the marinas moorings.  They were all full; we decided to pick up another one marked “Private” just before sunset.  In the morning I put the windlass together with a lot of grease and tested it.  It ran intermittently; time to tear it apart again.  The marina apologized profusely for not checking which mooring we were on and promised us we could move to one of theirs when a couple came free about noon.  We moved to the new mooring when it came free and made a quick dash to shore to get picked up for the hash.

A hash is a walk or run in the woods and a party at the end.  There are some rules and ceremonies and Cori got caught up in one.  There is a rule that since we are on private property we are not allowed picking or collecting any of the fruit.  Cori was interested in finding out what that one fruit was and was given one by the person tending them.  Once pack to the end she was accused of picking fruit and had to suffer the consequences.  They put a piece of PVC pipe that runs from your shoulder to your wrist, are given a beer and you are required to drink it which means pretty much just pouring it on your face trying to get some in your mouth.  The penalty also includes several people spraying and pouring beer on you.  This is a flagrant example of alcohol abuse but what can you do?  There is a very good possibility that she was set up but on the other hand they did not know about the cocoa beans and nutmeg that she had in her bag.

The next day, being Sunday we spent with our friend Sperry and his family as Cori went over the things that she brought for his wife.  She is a teacher at an all-girls school and Cori brought several large suitcases of supplies for her.

On Monday I got the Honda generator out to make some water and charge the batteries.  Unfortunately it ran for about five minutes and quit.  Attempts to restart it were in vain.  The marina contacted a mechanic to check it out but one last attempt to start it before bring it in succeeded.  I canceled the mechanic and went back to the windlass.  With more grease and testing with the motor removed everything looked good and I put it all back together.  It works!  The next test will be next week when we move off the mooring and anchor out.  The next morning I made another attempt at running the generator and making water and everything seemed fine for about an hour.  At that point it was running but not making any electricity.  A call to the marina lined up the mechanic and we brought it in.  While I waited for him Cori went off to get her hair cut.  Once I turned it over to him I caught up with her and we took a walk to the bank and shopping center to pick up local money and supplies.  In the evening we came in for showers and to go with friends to the brewery for beers and to listen to the music the cruisers were providing.  At the office l ran into the mechanic and he was very apologetic that it took more than the two hours he had promised.  It seemed to run so we paid him and went our ways.  The evening was enjoyable with a number of different cruisers getting up to play with the highlight of a bagpiper in full Scottish dress playing a number of songs.  You never know who will show up to play.

On Wednesday I finally got to run the generator and make some water and charge the batteries.  We annoyed the neighbors with our noise for five hours and made enough water for another week or so.  The generator did not run as smooth as before but it was running and making power.  That evening we went into the marina for bingo night.  This was the special Christmas bingo with a variety of cash and other prizes including a microwave, an oven and a refrigerator and a number of other small and gag prizes.  I didn’t win anything but I really don’t need the items they were giving out but would have taken the cash if it came down to it.  I ran into the mechanic and told him of my concerns of the generator and he said to bring it in the next morning.  When I came ashore with it the marina attendant was waiting for it since he had checked with them as soon as they opened.  I did not get back in the afternoon to pick it up but it was sitting in the office when I came in this morning.

It is now Friday the 22nd; we have been here just over a week and are getting ready for Christmas.  We think we will stay a couple of weeks then begin moving up the chain of islands.  Cori is back on the boat making a batch of her caramels and listening to the only Christmas CD we have on board.

We hope that everyone who reads this has or has had a Merry Christmas.  I will try to post again before the New Year.

Hi Flite in the slings ready to launch

Scotland Bay Trinidad

Arriving in Prickly Bay, Granada

Banana tree

The hash (hiking)

Orange tree

Cocoa pod

The bread-nut fruit that caused all the trouble

Sunday, December 10, 2017

We think we are ready

We think we are ready, we have scheduled our launch - just before lunch tomorrow.  Why before lunch?  After they lower us into the water we need to make a check of all of the through-hull valves and where the prop-shaft and the rudder post go through the hull to make sure there is no leaks.  We will have the time to check everything and get ready while the crew is off to lunch and we will not be so rushed.  If everything checks out we will move out to a mooring ball and finish putting everything back where if belongs.

The major projects have been checked off the list with the most recent being replacing some of the steering gear.  The steering wheel is mounted on a pedestal that has a chain running through it connected to cables that run through several pulleys then attach to the rudder post.  One of these pulleys was no longer turning when we turned the wheel and needed to be replaced.  A call to the manufacturer informed us that our system was well beyond it's expected life and most of it needed to be replaced.  Since being able to steer is high on our priorities we agreed.  Of course, any project creates several more.  While the locker that gives us access to the steering was empty we took the opportunity to replace the packing where the rudder post goes through the deck.  Unfortunately I couldn't reach it to do the work so we had to hire it done.  The pedestal is made of aluminum and had some corrosion in a couple of areas that I always meant to get at and now was the perfect time while it was out.  Again, I looked at it and decided there were two ways to do it, my way and the right way.  We opted for the right way and hired one of the workers to strip it, etch the aluminum so it would hold the paint and to paint it.  This turned out to be the right decision since it turned out looking like new.  Replacing the steering gear was almost an easy task, if you consider crawling in and out of locker and trying to work either upside-down or on your side with only one arm easy.  I only lost one nut to the bilge in the process, almost a record.  Of course Edson (the manufacturer) was right, we had reached end of life.  Several of the other pulleys could have been replaced but a local machine shop was able to replicate the worn center pins and there are as good as new.  The new chain and cable assembly went in without too much trouble.  The bearings and parts in the pedestal were replaced and it appears that the rudder is properly turning when the wheel is turned.  Steering is good!

Not all of our time was spent on projects.  We have met a number of other cruisers that are also getting their boats ready and a number of happy hours have happened.  We also took a day off to go on what is called "The Taste of Trinidad Tour".  This is a tour around the island stopping to sample traditional Trinidad foods.  Trinidad food is derived from African and East Indian settlers using their traditional recipes with the local fruits and vegetables.  The tour kicks off when the bus picks up at 9:00 am after the driver (Mr. Jesse James) has picked up some traditional breakfast dishes on his way.   We were eating before we left the parking lot and that is what we did for the next eleven hours.  He would drive for a bit, stop get a dish which we could all sample.  There were nine of us on the tour.  There were many foods I cannot remember, pronounce or will ever have again.  Only a couple of them I would say I did not like.  By lunch time we had made over 13 stops and had sampled around 40 different dishes or fruits.  Lunch consisted of five Indian dishes eaten at a beach on the east side of the island with the Atlantic Ocean behind us.  From there we continued.  We lost count of the number of dishes we tried.  Some of the memorable one were: bbq pigs tails (delicious), cow heel soup (okay), and what Jesse called the "alien fruit" which he was able to get at one of the fruit stands.  It is not a fruit but looks somewhat like a flying saucer, if you use your imagination.  After chopping off the top we found brazil nuts inside with the shells easy to crack open.  Brazil nuts fresh off the tree, who would have imagined it?  We made stops at every imaginable restaurant,(we stayed in the bus), roadside vendor, roadside fruit stands (one selling pickled fruits), and even a stop at a cocoa field to steal a cocoa pod for sampling of fresh cocoa beans.  The day ended with a stop at an ice cream vendor in Port of Spain, the capital city.  Eleven hours of eating, traveling and learning about this beautiful and fascinating island and it's people.  We took one evening to experience several steel band performances.  The steel drum originated here after WWII and has become an art form.  During Carnival in February there is a steel band competition with bands in different size classes.  We saw five bands in the 20 member class perform.  Bands can be up to about 120 members.  We have often heard one or two drums performing but that is nothing like twenty playing their hearts out.  I have posted one of the Christmas songs to our YouTube channel.

We finished a couple of minor projects: touching up the bottom paint and the non-skid paint, scrubbing the boat down, servicing the thru-hulls and just getting prepared for the coming season.  We have made a couple of trips for provisioning, they have scheduled buses that will take the cruisers to several stores and on Saturday to the public market.  Saturday we made the run to the market and then got dropped off downtown Port of Spain to do some sightseeing.

We think we are ready, so continue coming back to read of our adventures.

Steel Band

Barbecued pig tails

Roadside fruit stand

Jesse with the "alien fruit"

Brazil nuts

Atlantic Ocean



Friday, November 24, 2017

Time for an update

It's time for an update.

We are back in Trinidad working on the boat.  There is always something that needs to be done.  Cori has been here for five weeks and has been buffing and polishing almost non-stop.  I am not sure Hi Flite has ever looked better.  I arrived three weeks ago and have been checking off jobs while adding more to the to-do list.  Every job seems to create several more.  For example: there was a small leak above the nav-station.  It had caused a shelf to delaminate and was loose, also ruined a number of CD's that were stored there.  We gave it to one of the shops here to have it remade and since it was out Cori decided it was a good time to varnish the area.  As the table top was being sanded she found a small problem with one of the hinges (there is storage under the tabletop) that we thought could be replaced.  In order to get at it we had to remove the two shelves under the table, and then remove the bottom of the storage area all in order to get at the hinge from below.  Of course all of this did not help since the hinged top cannot be opened far enough to get at the screws that need replacing.  Basically the boat was built around the station and short of a saws-all it is not coming apart.  However, it all looks really nice with its new coat of varnish and it is all more secure with the old and somewhat corroded screws replaced.

The biggest news is that the wind generator got installed.  One of the reasons we got jobs this summer was to buy some new stuff for the boat and top of that list was a wind generator.  Just before Cori left for Trinidad we ordered the generator to arrive just after she did so she could pick it up after it cleared customs.  Then she had to fine a shop that could make the mount for it and arrange for a rigger to remove the old TV antenna and install the mount when it was ready.  Now remember we are in the islands and are dealing with "island time".  Of course they need to know how soon we need it, "no problem mon, it be ready".  After several weeks, he shows up to test fit it and says it will be ready Thursday.  Thursday comes, no mount.  Rigger gets rescheduled to Monday.  Saturday comes and here is the mount to be checked for fit before adding the support piece.  "No problem mon, it be ready Monday".  Monday morning, lo and behold here it is and it is beautiful.  Where is the rigger?  Cori finds him up another mast and he will be here is the afternoon.  Afternoon comes, no Gary, still up the mast. "Be there in the morning" and shows up after lunch.  He had been up another mast in the morning.  Once up our mast and measuring, marking, drilling and feeding the power cable it was looking good until he looked out and said "rain in five minutes".  It was only three and work had to stop but they will be back in the morning.  Wednesday morning they are back and after several hours the mount is mounted.  During this I have been working out where to locate the controller and how to run the cabling.  The controller will look real good where the AM/FM radio is mounted.  No problem, I can relocate that later (every project creates several more).  After several days of working out the cables and several trips to one or both of the supply stores it was completed.  The only thing left to do was to connect the wires and mount the generator.  Friday morning Cori winches me and all of the turkey, stuffing and other Thanksgiving food I ate the day before, up the mast.  With a minimum of cussing and a major change in the wire connections it was mounted and tightened down.  Next Cori hoisted up the blade assembly and I got that installed and tightened down just as the wind came up and it decided to start spinning.  Once back on deck the rain started.  We had finished just in time.  A quick check of the controller and it seems to be working.  SUCCESS!!!

It has not all been work.  There is a social life here with different events scheduled such as drumming night at one of the other marinas, pot luck and grilling on Thursdays and music jam sessions on Fridays not to mention trips to town for shopping and a variety of other activities.  We have been able to get into the city (Port of Spain) several times for provisions, a new phone for use in the islands, the public market and Cori even got a trip to a fabric store for one of her projects.  We have several other outings scheduled during the next week.

Along with all of this we have had to deal with insurance problems.  Not a claim, just trying to renew.  It seems our insurance carrier decided to stop writing marine insurance but didn't tell anyone.  Also the agency got bought out.  The bottom line - we have no insurance.  We got several quotes but both are higher than before, go figure, and need a new survey.  We choose a surveyor and he shows up to start going over the boat.  At the end of the day he is not done and is back the next morning.  By mid-day he is done, for now.  We need to call him back when we start working on the steering project so he can check that when we are done.  That is the next big project: replacing some of the steering components under the cockpit.  I am not sure if I can actually fit under there and get the work done but I have to try.  There is only so much we can afford to hire out.  We seemed to have picked a good surveyor since he is looking at everything, stuff that had not been looked at in previous surveys.  Things like when were your fire extinguishers last inspected, not just where are they and how many.  This morning we had to send all of the extinguishers out for inspection.  The spreaders are out of alignment, so we have the rigger go up the mast and adjust them.  More unexpected $'s. He is just looking too darn close.

The sails are back from the sail loft, and are ready to be bent on and we will start looking like a sailboat again.

At the market

The new wind generator

Thanksgiving pot luck