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