Friday, January 4, 2019

Christmas in the Caribbean

We would like to wish all of our friends and followers a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

We are still in Granada, but not for much longer. When we check into the country we are given a thirty day clearance for the boat. After that there is an additional charge. Our thirty days are nearly up and it is time to move on. Our first move will be to the island of Carriacou, which is part of Granada. We will check out there and move North to the Grenadines.

We have had some down time and also have been busy. Cori has been busy adding sunshade material to our cockpit enclosure which means she has been using her sewing machine. In order to run the sewing machine we need to run the generator to provide 110 volts and keep the batteries charged. We had been informed over the summer that the generator was not running and we brought parts with us from the States. Unfortunately the shop that was doing the repair was not able to find the problems. It had gotten splashed by saltwater and combined with the salt air it had a corrosion problem. Evidently most of the wiring had gotten corroded. We were about ready to give up on it and were making plans on where up-island we would be able to buy a replacement. Our friend Sperry got the name of another repairman and several hours after delivering it to him he reported that it was fixed and running. The batteries are happy, the sewing got done and we are enjoying our cockpit much more than previously. Before the enclosure every time it rained, which will happen several times a day, everything in the cockpit would get wet and we would have to duck below to wait it out, only to emerge into a wet cockpit. Now we are able to sit out and watch the rain. Speaking of rain, we have found a couple of leaks and have been tearing things apart to get at them. So far we have been successful, but this being a boat more will show up over time. Just one of the realities of living on a boat She has also been working on refinishing some of the woodwork. There is no end to the projects on a boat. One of the definitions of cruising is “repairing boats in exotic places” and there is far too much truth to that.

It hasn’t been all work. Christmas day we went for a local pig roast with a group of cruisers. One day we did some exploring the island and checked out another waterfall and a local museum. We made a couple of trips into the city which is always an adventure with the maxi-taxis. New Years Eve we went to a gathering of cruisers on nearby Hog Island but chose not to stay late. There were fireworks in the next bay but just out of sight for us. There are activities organized by the cruisers most days so we have spent time ashore for various music gatherings, pool tournaments and beach-time. Cori has spent several days with Sperry preparing what they call “sea eggs” which is the roe from sea urchins cooked and stuffed back into a sea urchin shell. It has been windy, 15-20+ knots most days, so there are days when we just stayed on the boat. One of those windy days, after a quick trip to shore, we had another boat drag down on us. It is a weird experience watching a boat with no-one on it coming your way. It seems to happen in slow motion. We heard a noise and saw the boat, Old Bob, bounce off the boat in front of us coming our way. We started grabbing fenders to try to keep it off but it turned at a 90 degree angle to us and then started to try T-boning us. Their bowsprit missed our headsail but was rubbing against the bow pulpit. We were able to hold it off and walk down the deck holding it off until it cleared our stern. After us it was heading to the boatyard when a group of cruisers arrived and managed to maneuver it to the seawall and get it tied up. We only got some scratches to the bow pulpit where a chain rubbed, nothing bent and no other damage. Luckily we had just arrived back from shore. If it had happened a little earlier we would not have been there to fend off.

The forecasts are for the winds and waves to drop in the next few days so we are using that as an opportunity to move on.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Now We Are In Granada

We made the passage from Trinidad to Granada, but more about that in a bit.

At the last post we had been dropped into the water, we are a boat again.  We spent the night tied to the dock because we were waiting for the canvas maker to finish the cockpit enclosure.  We went out for dinner with friends and when we got back the cockpit was enclosed.  The final Trinidad project was done.  If we check out of the country on a weekend we have to pay an overtime fee.  We wanted to get out of the harbor and check the systems before leaving.  We motored out of the harbor and around the corner  to Scotland Bay.  This is a sometimes quiet bay with a long enough trip to check out the engine, steering, etc.  Everything is working properly and we dropped anchor for the weekend.  Now that we are away from the marina we had less interference when using our Single Side Band radio and we were able to check in with friends in North Carolina.  One more item checked off the list.  We had a very quiet night but were disappointed in the morning that we did not hear the howler monkeys.  We had a quiet day until the party boat arrived in the afternoon, but after about an hour and a half they and their overpowered speakers left.  Quiet again.  A little later the Customs and Immigration boat came by to check if everyone was legal.  We thought we were but were informed that after being launched we should have notified Customs that we were once again in the water.  No problem, just a verbal warning this time.  The next morning we woke just before dawn to the sound of the howler monkeys.

Monday morning we pulled anchor and went back to the main anchorage and picked up a mooring ball.  We checked back with the boat yard since we were told that the rigger had been looking for us.  He had not gotten his bill for inspecting the rigging turned in before we paid the yard bill and were launched.  Evidently he thought we had skipped out on him.  After the bill was paid we headed to Immigration and Customs to check out.  Once checked out we were back to the boat to finish getting ready.

About 4:30 pm we dropped the mooring and headed for the cut to make the crossing.  It is about an 80 mile trip and if we leave in the morning we arrive after dark.  We do not go into a harbor in the dark, therefore we make this trip overnight arriving in the morning.  We started out with just the headsail and the mizzen expecting the forecasted 15-20 knots of wind and 4-6 foot seas.  The winds were no where close and we were only making about 3 knots.  We raised the main that we had prepared with a reef in it to make it smaller and we were off.  Within an hour we had the winds and seas that we had expected.  As the night progressed the winds and waves grew to the point we were taking water over the bow and were heeling excessively.  It was time for some changes, we hove-to, which is a way for stopping the boat to get it under control, and dropped the mainsail.  Once underway again we were still doing 7 knots but were riding better and not taking on so much water.  The real good news is that we were completely dry in the cockpit with the new enclosure.  It just paid for itself.  We continued on in the dark until early morning when Cori informed me that we were a half an hour out and it was still dark.  We had about an hour before sunrise.  We turned 180 degrees and sailed away from the island for about 20 minutes and then turned back.  This ate up enough time that the sun was up as we approached the bay.  We dropped the sails and motored in picking up a mooring ball and relaxed.  We had arrived.  We did some cleanup and took naps, it had been a long night and neither of us had gotten much sleep.  After a couple of hours we launched the dinghy and went in to check into the marina to pay for the mooring and to clear in with Immigration and Customs.  We are now legally in the country.  There are a lot of cruisers that refuse to go to Trinidad feeling it is unsafe with the problems with neighboring Venezuela but we have not had a problem and thoroughly enjoy the country and their people.

We spent two days in Prickly Bay on the mooring getting things organized, and taking care of business.  We caught a ride to the bank to get some East Caribbean currency but I unfortunately left the debit card on the boat.  Just one of my bad moments.  The next day I got the opportunity to walk to the bank and back, this time remembering the card.  We had our propane tanks refilled and stocked up again on LLB and Diet Coke.  Once these were taken care of we dropped the mooring and moved several bays down the coast and dropped anchor in Clark's Court Bay.  The advantage of this location is that it is closer for our friend Sperry to bring out the items we had stored with him over the summer.  Also the shop that is repairing the Honda generator is here.

One of my projects that I saved for when we got to Granada was to repair a leak in our water-maker.  After tearing it down, installing the new parts, reassembling and reinstalling it I found that it no longer leaked.  Unfortunately, it did not make any water.  I had done something wrong.  I gave it a day or so to think on it and came to the conclusion that I had one of the poppets installed wrong.  I disassembled it again and found that I had damaged the poppet and crushed the spring.  I was able to file the plastic part back into shape but the spring was done for.  The boat shop did not have any springs but suggested a hardware store.  Time for an adventure.  We went to shore and caught a number two maxi-taxi to St George, the capital city.  A maxi-taxi is a van with three rows of seats and picks up passengers as they drive their route.  Picking up anyone, anywhere that signals them for a ride.  No need to be at a bus stop.  The hardware store in town was closed, many businesses close at noon on Saturdays, so it was off to another one.  This time taking a number one maxi-taxi out of the city.  They don't leave the bus station until they are full and we had twenty-one people in the bus.  They dropped us off at the hardware store and I found a spring that I could cut down and maybe it would work. We then caught another number one back to the city and then another number two back to he harbor.  In all it cost us $20 EC for both of us to take the round trip for a spring.  Twenty dollars East Caribbean is about $7.40 US.  It just sounds expensive.  Back at the boat I was able to modify the spring and once reinstalled everything appears to work properly.

While we were in the city we made a side trip to the public market to take in the sights, sounds and the smell of it.  Granada is called the Spice Island and there are many booths selling bags of spice giving the market a remarkable smell and the bright colors are a treat for the eye.

At one time, before a hurricane damaged the island, Granada provided 80% of the nutmeg to the world.  This is what nutmeg looks like:

 We are planning to spend about another week here before moving on up the island chain.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Back in the Water

We are back in the water. After three and a half weeks of projects we are finally in the water.

It has been a lot of work but the time has gone fast with the last two weeks flying by but Hi Flite has never looked better.

Here is a photo to illustrate:

What is new? the teak wood along the toerail was installed this summer, the windlass was painted, the tan areas of the deck were painted and Cori repainted the white non-skid surfaces. The bow pulpit (those shiny post in the photo) had been removed and it was a couple of days job to remount it. The stanchions that hold the lifelines had to be removed and re-bedded (three days project) and those are new chocks that the dock lines will run through that you see in the photo. All of these involved two people with one trying to reach and attach nuts and bolts in a small confined space. The other big change is the new cockpit enclosure. We have had the clear glass/poly replaced in the dodger, the canvas top for the bimini replaced and now will have side curtains to keep out splashes from waves and rain. We will now be able to stay dry when sailing and when it is raining. It will be almost like having another room.  None of these projects will have to be redone for a number of years.

The other big project was to remove all of the old bottom paint, about 25 layers, seal the bottom with epoxy and then reapply several coats of anti-fouling paint.

There have been many other smaller projects, my list was a full page of a legal tablet plus others that I thought of and didn't write down. Along with painting the deck, Cori had her sewing machine out making new hatch covers among other items. Here is a photo of the materials for one of my projects:

I needed to replace the screws, nuts and washers on the Dynaplate. That is a metal plate attached to the hull below the waterline to work with the Single Side Band radio, our means of communicating and getting weather reports. What is special about them? They are gold plated, that is about a hundred dollars worth of hardware in that photo.

Cori has made several trips to town for provisions but unlike the Bahamas there are grocery stores on most of the islands. It is not necessary to stock up with as much as we have had to previously. There are a number of things that we need in volume and this is one of them:

It is LLB or Lemon, Lime and Bitters. It is sort of like a 7up or Squirt but also has Angostura Bitters. 
Angostura Bitters is one of those products you will find behind every bar and is used, if I remember my days as a bartender, in an Old Fashioned. It adds a unique flavor, Cori also likes to add a bit to her drinking water. The bitters is a product of Trinidad.

We learned a few lessons last year that we did not want to repeat. We tested the windlass and the chain wash down pump before going and anchoring. I don't want to have to pull in a hundred feet of chain and anchor by hand again and it helps to be sure the pump is working so I can wash the mud off of it before storing it away. There are a couple of systems that we tested making sure they still work after spending six months unused.

As I stated, there were a lot of small and large things done and I don't think Hi Flite has been as ready for another years adventure.

What is this years adventure going to be? Who knows? Our plan is to leave Trinidad next week for Granada, spend some time there with friends then start moving up the chain of islands visiting familiar locations and discovering new. How far north? Our plans at this time to to work our way up to Antigua and spend some time there, we haven't been there yet. At some point we will turn around and work our way back to Trinidad where we will put the boat up for another summer. We have been talking about working our way back to the States the following year and then continuing as we had previously with trips between New England and the Bahamas, once again becoming full time cruisers.

As always we keep in mind the old adage: "plans are written in sand at low tide" and are often subject to change.

Check back often, I will try to keep this blog updated often but it will depend on where we are and how good of data connection we are able to get.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Back in Trinidad

We are back in Trinidad. We have been here since the 14th and have been busy getting Hi Flite ready for the next seasons adventure.

When we left last spring we had contracted with several workers for projects while we were gone.  The big one was to have the teak rail that goes around the boat on the deck replaced.  That is completed and looks amazing.  The old cap-rail had been sanded so many times over the years that the bungs covering the screws were coming out and we were getting leaks in a variety of locations.  In order to do that project we had to have her covered.  We are still under the cover but it is helping with Cori's project to repaint the non-skid decking.  Another project that I was not aware of, was painting the areas of the deck that are not non-skid.  Several years ago we had the cockpit painted a new color and were planning to follow up with painting the rest of the boat.  It kept getting pushed back in the project list and hadn't happened.  This year Cori was talking with one of the workers and he pointed out that it would be easier and cheaper to have the painting done while the cap-rail was off.  She told him to go ahead and do it as a surprise for me.  We now look complete, no longer two-toned.  We are also having the bottom paint removed down to the bare gel-coat and will be sealing the bottom and giving her a couple of coats of anti-fouling paint.  The last layers were not doing their job of preventing growth and needed to be repainted.  The contractor, said there were about twenty five layers that he stripped off.

Once the cover is off the canvas maker will be able to finish the cockpit cover and enclosure we ordered.  We have always had a cover (bimini) for the cockpit but not side curtains.  We are now to the point we no longer want to keep getting wet when a wave splashes into the cockpit.  This will also make the cockpit more livable in inclement weather.  We should still be able to be in the cockpit when it is raining instead of heading below every time it rains, which can be often.

Once these and several other smaller projects are completed we will be back in the water and ready to start "wandering aimlessly about the Caribbean".  Our first stop will be in Granada to pick up some items that we have stored there and to drop off some goods we brought for some friends.  After that we are planning to work our way North visiting some of the spots we have enjoyed in the past and will be checking out several islands and anchorages we have not visited yet.  At that point we will work our way back down to Trinidad to put the boat up for another summer and we will return back to the States.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Summer Update

We are again spending the summer In South Dakota while Hi Flite sits patiently awaiting our return in November.  Not that any of us are inactive.  Cori and I have returned to our part-time summer jobs and have added a new activity.  We bought a used four wheel ATV and are having the time of our lives with it.  Living next to the Black Hills National Forest we have access to over six hundred miles of trails and have been out exploring them.  Hi Flite on the other hand is having the teak caprail/toerail replaced and the bottom cleaned of all old anti-foul paint and will be receiving a barrier coat and then new paint.  There seems to be a limited number of layers of paint you can apply until there is too much of a buildup.

Our plans at this time are to return to Trinidad in November to finish projects and then spend another winter cruising various islands in the Caribbean again.

That's it for now, thanks for following us.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

We Have Closed the Circle

We have closed the circle.  We are back in Trinidad and have been hauled out and are getting the boat ready for the summer.

We prepared to leave Granada by offloading a lot of “stuff” that we would not need on the boat over the summer.  Our friend, Sperry, is storing it for us.  Once we had everything off we then needed to decide when to go.  We had an appointment at Power Boats in Trinidad to be hauled out May 4.  Checking with our weather advisor we decided to take the opportunity that was coming up on Tuesday, April 24th.  Better to arrive early then to be stuck with weather problems.  Tuesday we pulled anchor and motored to Prickly Bay to take on fuel and to check out of the country.  As we entered Prickly Bay the engine started to act up, losing power and then died.  The symptoms were the same for running out of fuel.  We still showed a half a tank on the gauge but we all know that they can be wrong.  Were we out of fuel?  Opening the fuel filter showed that it was empty.  It wasn’t getting any fuel.  We quickly put out the headsail and proceeded to sail into the bay making several tacks to get into a position to anchor.  We picked a spot and dropped the anchor.  We dropped the dinghy from the davits and I headed to the marina to see if I could get a can of diesel.  All of our fuel jugs are now in storage.  With a borrowed can and five gallons of diesel, I headed back to the boat.  We added the fuel to the tank and primed the filter and pump and she started right up.  We then pulled the anchor and maneuvered to the fuel dock and tied up.  I was a bit surprised when it only took 41 gallons.  We still had a half tank.  Something else is the problem, I am suspecting there is something in the tank that is blocking the pickup and causing the engine to starve, drops off when the engine dies.  I need to look into it a bit more.  After checking out we ran into Dean and Kim from Dreamcatcher and sat down to visit for a bit.  They had watched us sailing in and thought we were just showing off, they had no idea how much adrenalin was pumping through our systems as we were coming in.  After the visit we moved out to a mooring to get everything ready for the trip.  We figure at best it is a twelve hour trip and if we leave in the morning we arrive in the dark so instead we leave in the evening and arrive sometime in the morning.

At 5:00 pm we dropped the mooring and headed out, next stop Trinidad.  We had decided to just run with the headsail and the mizzen since the forecast was for winds out of the ESE at around 15 knots.  Usually they run a bit higher so we did not want to have too much sail up.  We set a waypoint and we then had a line on the chart plotter to guide us.  After a couple of hours it was evident that there was a strong west flowing current.  We adjusted the sails and our course to minimize it but at one point it had us about five miles west of our line and heading to Venezuela.  Eventually the current weakened and we were able to work our way back on coarse again, even moving a bit east.  In the morning the current started to build again but we and had gotten enough easting that we were still on course for our waypoint.  The track on the chart plotter looks like we were drunkenly weaving our way along.  Most of the night we had better then a half moon and it was a beautiful night to be sailing.  Eventually we lost the moon but in a couple of hours the eastern sky was getting lighter.  We saw the lights of a number of boats but nothing came close to us until the next morning and we still had a lot of room to pass by.  During the night the winds died off and we started to drop from five knots to four, to three and by morning we were down to two.  The winds had died to below ten knots; it was time to start motoring.  We had 25 miles to go and the gps said it would take another fifteen hours to the waypoint.  We made our waypoint, went up the channel between two islands without the rough water we had experienced when we left in December and motored into the bay to pick up a mooring.  We had arrived.  We dropped the dinghy and made our way to the dock at Customs and Immigration to check in.  Once that was taken care of we dinghied over to the boatyard to let them know we had arrived.  Since we were showing up a week early they had offered to move up our haul out.  We would be hauled out the next day, after lunch.  It had been a long trip, nineteen hours and we were beat.  We keep four hour watches; someone is always on deck and keeping a watch while the other tries to sleep switching off every four hours.  We are able to get some rest but we still get very tired.

We were up early the next morning to get ready for the haul out.  Just before noon we dropped the mooring, maneuvered to the dock and positioned the boat to be lifted.  Once tied up the work crew left for their lunch and we waited.  The haul out went without any problems and soon we were resting between the stands and a worker was giving the bottom a good cleaning.

It was our first night without the boat rocking or rolling since we were launched December 11, 2017.  We had traveled 876 nautical miles, or just under 1000 statute miles.  Most years we will stop and spend a couple of days at a marina to service batteries, take on provision or just take a break but this year we did not.  Every night was either on the anchor or on a mooring ball, a first for us.  We visited six countries and I am not sure of how many islands.  Our Spot reports that we stopped in 26 different locations.  I have entered these locations into a Google map and have added a link to it over there on the right side of the blog page.

We have about three weeks to work on the boat and then we will be flying back to South Dakota and Minnesota for the summer.  Next year’s pan is still in the works but obviously it will begin in Trinidad somewhere around November, where we will end up is still to be decided.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Back to Granada

I have been informed that I am overdue for a blog update.  I can’t argue, I can only make excuses.

When I last I reported we are in St Pierre, Martinique.  It was our last day so Cori went to shore early to search for more sea-glass and I ran the generator to give the batteries a little boost.  Midday we pulled the anchor to move on, we were headed to Grand Anse Bay further down the coast.  Grand Anse is a bay that has a lot of small restaurants, several resorts, a couple of shops catering to divers and tourists, it is not a town.  We spent two days, one relaxing on the boat and another hiking over the ridge to the next bay.  Being as the restaurants and bars cater to the tourists they are open late and as usual have their music turned to full volume so everyone in the anchorage can enjoy it until 2:00 am.  After two days we had enough, we knew the next bay was more peaceful.  The highlight of the stay was dinner one evening delivered from another boat.  It is a boat that travels to various harbors, in the morning they announce the menu for day in French and English, and will deliver to your boat.  The price is reasonable and the food is good.  They have found a way to go cruising and make money as they go, not a bad way to live.  Sunday morning, Easter Sunday, we pulled anchor and motored around the peninsula and dropped anchor in Petite Anse, a smaller but quieter bay.  There is an actual town here and we had spent about a week here on our trip up the island.  Since it was Sunday and the town was shut down I just hung out on the boat while Cori went in her kayak in search of the elusive sea-glass.  Monday was a holiday so it was another relaxing day of reading, napping and of course Cori was off for more sea-glass.

It was time to move on so the next morning we went to shore to hit the bakery and checked out of Martinique with Immigration and Customs.  Back at the boat we pulled the anchor and headed out.  We were making for Rodney Bay in St Lucia.  We beat into the wind for a bit until we got clear of the island then had 15-20 knot winds on the beam.  We did a nice comfortable 6 knots across the gap and pulled into Rodney Bay and dropped anchor about 2:30, a nice quick passage of 28 miles.  I took the dinghy to check into the country and Cori stayed on the boat to make sure we did not drag on our anchor.  We try not to be those sailors that pull into a harbor, drop their anchor, quickly make the trip to shore and come back later to where thy left the boat except that it is no longer there.  We try to wait to make sure the anchor has set and is holding properly.  There was an incident several years ago in the Bahamas where a sailor anchored to go ashore to check-in and when he returned his boat was no longer there and has never been seen since.  We don’t want to be in that situation.  The next day we went ashore to hit the shops, have lunch and pick up some groceries.  There have been a number of dinghy thefts this year in Rodney Bay (14 at last count) and there was an attendant at the dock leading to the shopping area keeping an eye on the dinghies.  Maybe they are catching on that cruisers are starting to bypass them feeling unsafe.  Where we were anchored was close to the marina entrance and there was a fair amount of traffic so we pulled anchor and moved further along the bay to re-anchor by the National Park.  The next day we went ashore, paid our park entrance fee and hiked Pigeon Point.  There is the remains of the old fort overlooking the bay entrance and another hike to a higher point overlooking the North end of the island and across to Martinique.  It was a tough climb but worth it for the view.  Once back down the hill we toured the rest of the fort, stopped at a cafĂ© for Wi-Fi and a late lunch.  We went back to the boat for a couple of Ibuprofen and a nap.  In the morning we heard via the radio net and listening to the Martinique Coast Guard that that there had been a mayday call from a boat making the passage we had just made reporting he was taking on water and was sinking.  They were broadcasting for all boats in the area to be on the watch for a man overboard.  After several days the search was abandoned.  This was a stark reminder of how things can go wrong and lives are in danger when they do.  There is no pulling off the side of the road and calling AAA when you have a problem.  There was a mooring close to us that boats from the resorts would tie up to and disperse groups of snorkelers so I decided I needed to see what the attraction was,  I dropped overboard and swam over to see.  It was very disappointing, there were hardly any fish, there wasn’t much coral and most of it was dead.  It was one of my most disappointing outings.  The next day, Saturday, we spent on the boat relaxing while Cori polished the stainless steel.  Salt water will make anything, including stainless, rust and corrode if you do not keep at it. Sunday morning we tried to pull anchor and move down the island but had a small problem.  In the switching winds our anchor chain had wrapped around a rock.  I tried diving down to see if I could dislodge it but it was below my diving depth.  I swam over to our neighbors on Party of Five to see if he was a diver.  Travis came over to see if he could help.  With him in the water and Cori at the bow he was able to direct us so that we were able to free ourselves from the rock.  After thanking him profusely we were able to pull the anchor and head off to Soufriere.  Soufriere is at the base of the Petons, two volcanic peaks that are the pride and national symbol of the island.  Cori was able to get a couple of nice pictures of Hi Flite with them in the background when she went out in her kayak.  

This harbor has a reputation of having aggressive boat-boys, guys who come out in their boats to help get you tied to a mooring, sell you everything from fish, fruit, vegetables and homemade jewelry.  We didn’t experience that aggressiveness but there were a number of them but left when we declined to buy their wares.  The anchorage is in a marine park so in the evening the park rangers come by to collect the mooring fee, no anchoring is allowed but they provide secure mooring for a fee.  We scheduled a water taxi to pick me up in the morning to take me to shore to check out of the country.  We had the dinghy secure in its davits and didn’t want to take the time to drop it, make the run to the dock and then stow it again.  It was time to move.  The taxi arrived on time in the morning, Customs went without a hitch and then the Immigration officer was an hour late.  So much for getting an early start.  We motored against a headwind and current until we got to the bottom of the island and the winds shifted again from the east.  We had been fighting the wraparound from the winds funneling through the gap.  We had 20 knot winds with 4-5 foot swells and we ran about 5-6 knots with a reefed headsail and the mizzen.  With less sail out we had a fairly comfortable ride until we got into the lee of St Vincent where we lost the wind.  We continued to motor along the island trying to decide where to stop for the night and where we would be able to check-in.  Our planned stop was not as protected as we had hoped and we were arriving late so we would have to spend the night before checking in.  We continued several miles until we arrived at Wallilabou Bay and pulled in.  We got tied to a mooring with a line off the back of the boat to the pier and were set for the night.  It turned out that the Customs and Immigration officials were there so we were able to get checked in right away.  The appeal of this bay is that besides being well protected it is one of the locations used in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  We were in the movie site of Port Royal.

Some of the buildings built and remodeled for the movie are still there and house a small museum.  The next day we did a hike, more of a walk up the road, to a small waterfalls, for a swim under the falls and in a freshwater pool.  A nice break from swimming in saltwater.  After that we dinghied around the area to check out the other bays and the caves carved into the shoreline.  That night it was a nice break from loud music blasting from shore, all we had to listen to was the natural sounds of the critters on shore.

WE wanted to go back to the Tobago Cays since the last time we were there I was not feeling well and the wind was blowing so hard it was hard to get off the boat.  Everyone says the Cays are beautiful with short hikes on the islands and great snorkeling on the reef.  We left Willilabou Bay towing one of the boat-boys to the next bay so he didn’t have to paddle.  He had what was busily a salvaged boat with home-made oars and had to stop to bail every few minutes.  After dropping him off we set sails for Tobago Cays.  We motorsailed against the current until we reached the bottom of the island and then caught the east trade winds blowing 20 knots with the swell on our beam causing a rolling rough ride.  We arrived at the Cays and motored into the central harbor and decided to pick up a mooring instead of anchoring with the wind still blowing 20 knots.  The reef cut down the big waves but the wind was kicking up small waves after that causing a lot of rolling during the night.  In the morning the wind had not let up and we decided to find a more protected harbor.  We dropped the mooring and once clear of the reef we sailed downwind under a headsail to Chatham Bay on the west side of Union Island.  We dropped anchor in the bay, got the dinghy in the water and headed to shore stopping first to say hello to our friends on Heavy Metal that we had spent time in Margot Bay with.  The evening was spent having beers at a beach bar and visiting with a group from Burlington Vermont.  In the morning we went snorkeling with Koen and Yvonne from Heavy Metal.  Koen and I snorkeling and Cori and Yvonne stayed the dinghies keeping them from drifting off to Central America.  I have never seen so many fish, schools of small baitfish all moving as a group.  I tried getting pictures and video but I’m not happy with how they turned out.  After that Cori and I hiked up to the take in the view from the top of of the ridge.  Up there we got to visit with “Bushman”, one of the locals who takes care of the cows grazing in the area.  Instead of building fences they have a rope tied around its neck and tied to a tree or to some rocks and periodically move them to another spot.  Later as we were walking down the road we met up with one of these just walking along dragging a small bush still tied to its rope.  It ignored us and just continued on to wherever it was going.  We did not see it on our return so it must have gotten to wherever it was going.

We also see a lot of goats out grazing this way, some tethered to a tree or just dragging their rope behind them.  Back at the beach we stopped at one of the bar/restaurants but had not brought money with us on the hike.  Our credit was good and with a promise to be back later to pay we had cold beers.  While there we learned that the bartender, Claudia, could take care of our checking out when it was time to leave.  Saturday we went ashore, did the hike to the road and then hiked over the ridge to the small town of Ashton.  There are only two towns on the island and from there we caught a bus to Clifton.  Clifton is where we would have to go to check out and the anchorage was rough with the wind still blowing 20 knots.  We checked out the shops, had lunch at one of the non-tourist cafes, bought some of the best tomatoes we have had on this trip and caught a bus back to Ashton.  For an extra fee the bus took us to where the trail from the beach met the road, we didn’t have to make the hike over the ridge.  That evening’s entertainment was watching the fishermen pulling their nets real close to us; quite an operation with lots of yelling and it seemed everyone was giving orders.  Sunday morning we slept in then went to shore to have lunch and give our paperwork to Claudia.  She lives in Clifton and would take the paperwork to the airport first thing on Monday and have it for us at 10:00 when she got to work.  She gets a ride to work on one of the boats that travel back and forth.  Monday morning at 10:00 we jumped in the dinghy to get our paperwork and as soon as we left the boat it started raining.  One ashore, soaking wet we waited out the squall, got our paperwork, paid her for the service and then back to the boat to pull the anchor.

We had plans to go to Petite St Vincent and Petite Martinique, two small islands nearby for a couple of days, but the wind was still blowing 20 and it would be an unwind trip.  We decided to just head down to Carriacou, stop in Tyrell Bay to check in and spend a couple of days.  This turned out to be a classic example of why we don’t travel with other boats.  By the time we arrived at Tyrell bay we were having such a good sail we decided to continue on to Granada.  We estimated we would arrive at Dragon Bay to pick up a mooring about 4:30.  We were off by a little, arriving after 5:00, but there were no moorings available.  This being a marine park there is no anchoring.  We continued on to St George Bay off the capital city of St George and set the anchor while it was still daylight.  St George Bay is reported to be a very rolly anchorage but with the wind direction it was a fairly calm night.  In the morning when we pulled the anchor there was a rock caught in it.  Evidently it was not as well set as I thought.  If the winds had kicked up we would have dragged and had to reset during the night.  We were lucky.  We motored around the southwest point and turned east heading to Prickly Bay.  The winds were kicking up some big waves and we pounded into them for about an hour until we made the turn into the Bay.  We scouted out a spot to anchor, dropped it, set it and shut everything down.  We were back in Granada, about a week earlier then we had planned.  I made the quick trip to Immigration and Customs and we are legal again.  Later we made a trip to shore to walk to the bank to get some local cash and a stop for more groceries.  I got real excited when I found 12 packs of Diet Coke.  It is not available on very many islands and I had run out of my supply.  That night we rolled violently and were uncomfortable, so in the morning we pulled the anchor and moved over to Clarks Court Bay where we had spent Christmas and New Year’s.  It is much more comfortable.  Cori took the kayak over to Hog Island to help her friend Sperry prepare the “sea eggs” he sells and I made a trip to the nearby marina for a loaf of the best bread you can find anywhere.  Sperry is going to store a lot of our extra stuff for the summer while we have work done on the boat so we started sorting and offloading some of to him.  In the evening we went ashore for pizza night at the marina.  The next day Sperry picked up us with more of our stuff and brought us to his home where Cori got several loads of laundry done.  He also brought us to the grocery store for more provisions then we spent the evening with his family.

Friday, the 20th, Cori was off to the island with Sperry to help out again and I was on board for projects.  I need to clean and prepare the watermaker for summer storage.  When that was almost done I noticed a smell of something burning.  I checked outside since there is often someone burning something but didn’t see or smell anything.  It seemed to be coming from the aft cabin.  I checked the hanging locker where all of the electrical connects are and found a wire that was melting its insulation and smoking.  An overheated wire.  It was the feed wire from the solar panels to the solar controller.  It doesn’t have a switch, just a fuse and it was the fuse holder that was melting.  I cut the wire, breaking the connection and everything was okay again, we just had no solar charging.  The next morning I caught the scheduled shopping bus to Budget Marine, running the dinghy out of fuel on the way, to buy a new fuse holder and a solar control.  I hoped the controller was okay but bought one just in case.  After inspecting the old controller I found a component that had failed and melted.  Now I knew what caused the problem.  After removing the old and installing the new controller we had lots of power going from the solar panels to the batteries.  I don’t want to think of what could have happened had I not been on the boat when this happened.  There are a lot of jackets and such hanging in that locker and there was the possibility of a fire breaking out.  About the running out of fuel, I had the fuel jug ready to put in the dinghy to top off but got into a rush and forgot.  I also left the boat with the hatch above the bed open but was fortunate that it did not rain.  I just got into too much of a hurry worrying about being on time for the bus.  As my friend Bill puts it: “I don’t know how you mere mortals do it”. I was able to get a tow back to the boat so I didn’t have to row.  Sunday we spent the day with Sperry’s family with games being played and sea-glass jewelry being made.  Sperry’s daughter, who is going to cooking school, did the cooking and made some of the best fried chicken we have had in a very long time.

It is Monday and our weather advisor says that we should have good conditions for the trip to Trinidad on Tuesday.  We plan to move back to Prickly Bay to top off the fuel and check out of the country.  We will leave late in the afternoon or early evening for an overnight sail.  We estimate about 12 hour to get there so if we leave in the morning we will arrive after dark, therefore we leave in the evening and arrive in the daylight.  We will spend a few days before we are scheduled to be hauled out and then will meet with the workers we have scheduled for the summer projects.  After that we will be flying back to the US for the summer again.