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31/12/2011, Woburn, Grenada

So that was Christmas. And I actually got my Christmas wish: on the 23rd James decided to go back to Union to visit his family after all so we've been home alone for a week now. The first time for several years and wonderful!

Christmas Eve was spent tidying up the Buzzard, and de-moulding our main fridge because the compressor had decided to pack up, just when it was over-flowing with food for the festive season. Luckily we have an old back up fridge/freezer, which sort of works even though the freezer door falls off every time you open it, but at least it meant we didn't lose everything; and we did manage to get the beer fridge working so that was ok.

There were seven people for Christmas lunch, Mike and Audrey and three guys who are on their own (Jeff, Chris and Rudi). Jeff spends most of his time with us anyway so he was alright but the others were definitely suffering from the Single Sailor Syndrome ... which we've come across quite a lot and means that once they actually get among people they have a tendency to make up for all the not talking they do on their own.

Anyway, it was a good day and no-one over did it, well apart from the food. We cooked a big ham and had our last Venezuelan lomito which was still great even though it had been in the freezer for over two years. We all ate too much, but then who doesn't on Christmas Day.

Boxing Day was ... interesting. The morning was spent cleaning out the cupboard under the sinks in the galley after discovering a cockroach infestation; that was real fun. We've done really well on the cockroach front over the years but apparently they've caught up with us. I should have known they were making inroads when I tipped Toby's dog food up a few weeks ago and suddenly the 'kibbles' were running in all directions (as was I!).

In the afternoon we had a Boxing Day Boat-crawl which was an idea we'd got from our friends Stan and Cora who are now up in Bequia. There were nine boats involved and 13 people. You start on the smallest boat and everyone gets one drink on each boat, then end on the biggest (ours) where you get food and even more drink. We had a variety of rum punches and cocktails and everyone was merry by the time we got back to the Buzzard. There was also some card game involved but I can't quite remember how that worked out and I have no idea who won.

Even though Mike organised it we didn't know all the people taking part but it all worked out well and everyone had a great time and were firm friends by the end. The smallest boat was 27ft and with 13 people on board it's hard not to become acquainted. It was also good to have a look at different boats and their set-ups, just in case we ever decide to down-size.

The last few days have been fairly quiet. Apart from getting the refrigeration people in, going to buy a new compressor, picking up our pump seals, getting the drawings for the generator on the side of the engine, having a few drinks in the yacht club, oh and spending time on our own. The Christmas winds died down for a few days at the beginning of the week but they're picking up again now ready for the new year. And the hills around Woburn have suddenly sprung a whole host of yellow trees (which I'll try to find the name of) and look really pretty.

Thursday we were hoping our fridge would be up and running again. The guy came out at 8.30 am to fit the new compressor and was still here at 12, plus the thermostat apparently isn't working right so he has to come back. We had planned to take a maxi-taxi up to Gouyave to try and get the solenoid fixed on the Onan starter motor but that had to wait another day as the quick job fixing the tilt on the outboard has turned into something of an ordeal and we ran out of time.

Friday morning the fridge man was supposed to be coming back to fit the new thermostat but, after several phone calls and promises, he still didn't turn up. Mike went over to Hog Island, with a whole heap of 2 x 4s we had in the hold, to help Roger and a few others reconstruct the stage so he can start having bands again. The last one was deemed unsafe, which is hardly surprising as at high tide the musicians were standing up to their knees in sea water and electric shocks were not uncommon.

Saturday morning still no fridge-man so it looks like we'll be struggling until after the new year now, aaarrgghh!!!! It's raining and blowing but still warm enough to sit around in next to nothing clothes wise, so we're just hanging out reading and drinking coffee. Guess we won't be finishing the stage just yet, but the band isn't due until Sunday afternoon so I'm sure it'll be done by then.

We've had several phone calls from Totong in Indonesia who is enjoying being back with his family. Apparently our friends Julie and Twent are going to Indonesia to visit with him and maybe also Johan and Anton (ex crew, who returned there some time ago). I hope they have fun, it will be quite the experience either way.

We don't, as yet, have plans for tonight although I'm hoping we get to see some fireworks somewhere ... wherever you all are, we wish you a Happy New Year (or Old Year's End depending on your point of view) and hope that 2012 is good year for us all!

Lots of love ...

21/12/2011, Woburn, Grenada

Just wanted to wish a very Merry Christmas to all our wonderful blog readers ... and to give you a quick update since the last one.

We finally got the Onan generator working at 9 pm that night and luckily the old wind-up Lister/Isanthall did its job the next morning. And the main engine was ok once we'd bled the fuel rack. So then we were all set to go.

Thursday morning James (our six months AWOL crew from Union) re-joined the Buzzard and we left Carriacou about 1 pm with the aim of getting back to Woburn before dark. We got about 2 miles out and had a phone call from Fred (on Dream, a 37ft sail-boat). Earlier in the week we'd taken his broken mast out for him and he was now on his way motoring back to Grenada, now he was about a mile ahead of us, and his engine had broken down, could we tow him the 30 miles to Woburn?

Even though it was flat calm, by the time we got a rope over to him and then slowed down to accommodate the tow, it was 5.30 by the time we got to St. Georges and we decided to anchor there for the night; much better than trying to navigate the reefs in the dark, especially when you're towing another boat.

Unfortunately St. Georges was particularly rolly and we were up at 5.15 am after listening to doors bang, stuff clang, and chairs slide around the top deck. As we were in the metropolis we took advantage and I caught the bus up to the travel agents who had messed up Tony's flight once again which meant that he now had to change from Gatwick to Heathrow when he was in London. Oh and then my credit card wouldn't work so I had to get a friend to go in with a cheque to secure the flight.

Mike and Jeff spent most of the morning with customs trying to retrieve our awning material that had been shipped in from Miami whilst we were in Carriacou. And also taking in our exciter coil to be re-wound, along with Tanya's starter and windlass motors, none of which are light items.

Eventually the Buzzard, with Dream in tow, left St. Georges around 2.30 pm and made it safely back to the mooring buoy well before dark. I wasn't on board at the time as I was out having a girly Christmas shopping/drinking afternoon with Angie and Lucy.

The weekend was relatively quiet although we did take Tony over to Hog Island on Sunday afternoon. He spent Saturday shopping (more successfully than I did), and then Sunday morning cleaning his cabin; wherein he found seven glasses and various items of cutlery that had been 'lost', but not my black knife which went missing yet again about three weeks ago.

On Sunday we also picked up 17 gls of 2-pack epoxy paint that a friend of a friend had brought up from Trinidad. First thing Monday morning James, Devon, Mike and I started the outside of the gunwales, and we now have a bright, red shiny, much better looking boat than we've had in a long time. We've had four 200-300ft mega-yachts anchored in Woburn over the last three days and one of them came real close to wave and take pictures, so we must be looking good.

Monday morning Tony went in to send himself some money to Indonesia so that he didn't have to carry it all with him and Monday afternoon we were off to the airport, courtesy of Lucy. We were almost late as Tony was starting to panic a bit and couldn't find the new socks he'd bought himself in readiness for his English encounter. He didn't miss the plane though, and sent us a text at 5.56 am the next morning to say he was in England and it was cool; not sure if he was referring to the weather or the country. By now he should be safely home although we haven't heard anything as yet.

Tuesday we went to pick up the coil, only they made it wider and it doesn't fit so we had to take it back for a further tune-up. Oh and the starter motor on the Onan's gone so we're struggling with generator issues once again.

Our friend Peter is now back from Canada for the winter and we had supper on his boat last night. Freshly caught and cooked whelks, snapper and slipper-lobsters in a spicy coconut soup. One of the beauties of living here and snorkelling for your food, just wish we had more time to do the fun things ourselves.

The Christmas winds are picking up and there's a strong north-easterly swell. Tanya's boat in Carriacou was rolling that bad they had to go book into a hotel to get some sleep, and Mike and Audrey have just arrived back to St. Georges and have gone to the marina as they haven't been able to sleep properly for nearly a week. And when our friend Don sailed up to Carriacou on Tuesday the normally 3 hour (for him) trip took ten and he ended up travelling 64 miles to go 30.

Given the state of the weather (although it's still sunny and 28C so we're not complaining too much) it looks like we'll be staying put here for Christmas. Just need to go shopping at some point as we have no turkey, no vegetables, not much of anything. We (I) had hoped that with Tony gone we'd manage some time alone on the boat over Christmas but James doesn't want to go back to Union, he doesn't want to get caught up in the Nine Mornings of Christmas where everyone drinks from sunset to sunrise from the 16th to the 25th. Can't say I blame him.

We're both feeling tired at the moment (not helped by some particularly sad news I got from home at the weekend) and we're more than ready for a break. Hopefully all will be working normally by Friday and we can actually take some time off.

So ... we're wishing you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS from the sun(and RUM)-soaked lands of the Caribbean and we hope you have a good one wherever you may be!!

Love to everyone .... Jules and Mike and the Flying Buzzard Crew

BREAKING NEWS: The Yanmar is now up and running and normal service has been resumed, well except it's not running the crane for some reason.

It never rains ...
14/12/2011, Carriacou, Grenada

We finally left Woburn a week last Saturday (only a day late this time) and made it all the way (30 miles) to Carriacou, with a slight 40 miles detour out towards to Tobago.

Tony and Devon are on board and Jeff has come along for the ride. The first leg of the trip was fairly uneventful as the Christmas winds haven't kicked in yet and the weather has been relatively calm for the last month or so, and we caught a good sized tuna (the first one we've had for quite some time). Unfortunately I got a bit sea-sick which wasn't so good but I'm hoping that is was just because I haven't been to sea since we went to Trinidad which was over four months ago. We left Saturday afternoon around 4.30 and were at anchor by 10 am Sunday morning; in plenty of time to get to the Slipway for lunch and then back for a well deserved nap. I'd forgotten just how crystal clear the water is out here, without the run off from the rum factory that we get in Woburn.

Most of the week has been pretty hectic as we haven't been here for a while. We've had meetings with Andy the sail maker who made a cover for our steering rack and is going to make the awning for the top deck when our material eventually arrives. Andy has a virtual menagerie in his tiny sale loft: five red spotted tortoises, one that only has one foot and that he reckons would be really great on our boat, three cats, and a resident humming-bird that has built her nest in the rafters and has produced five sets of twins in the last eight months.

Tanya is in Hillsborough, the next bay to where we are, so we've made a couple of visits over there to help her with it her winch. The shaft seized-up and she burnt out the motor trying to raise her anchor; Mike had been trying to solve the problem over the phone without success but now him and Jeff have managed to get the shaft moving again and we're going to take the motor back to Grenada with us to get it re-wound.

Their little boy, Jesse, who is now 18 months is a delight, although how she copes with him on the boat I'm not too sure. As we were leaving I couldn't find my shoes which Jeff said he'd last seen Jesse carrying. The fear was that he'd decided to do a float test with them over the side, which he apparently has done with quite a few things. We looked all over the boat and in the end I left wearing a pair of Tanya's. The next day she phoned to say she'd found my shoes in their shoe closet so there may be hope for the future yet!!!

We've also been working on the boat, as usual. Mike and Jeff put new seals on the steering ram and tightened up the packing which seems to have worked well and got rid of the oil leak on the back deck. Tony and Devon worked banging and scraping the shelter deck and the grating over the steering. Devon's 'English' is all but indecipherable and we're having trouble understanding him, he's not proving to be the most able bodied seaman either. He almost caught his hand in our one of our mooring ropes while trying to tie it off, dropped a ladder on his finger and got a massive blood blister under his nail, which Mike had to puncture with a hot paper-clip, and then whacked his head coming out of the crews.

We went to the Friday night Lambi Queen pan night, met up with a few other people we haven't seen for a while, and actually managed to get home at a reasonable time which was good.

Last weekend we did two trips out to sea with our friends Mike and Audrey, and Tony from Ragin Cajun who was hauled out anti-fouling his bottom. On the Saturday we left around 5.30 pm and got back in at 2 am after meeting up with Troll, a tug we've met before. We went alongside them for a while and ended up feeling like a Senior Citizens Pirate Club; apart from Tony and Devon I was the youngest on board.

Sunday we went out at 1.30 pm and were supposedly going to be back by 7 pm. Going out was fine but as we were coming back in the fuel pump started playing up, and we got air in the main engine system. We limped back into the bay at around 11 pm and I was oh so pleased to hear the anchor go down. We started up the crane to lower the dinghy and our main generator died on us, completely. We ended up having to lower the dinghy over the side on ropes, which we probably should have done before we opened a bottle of Pussers to celebrate being back safely, then maybe someone would have checked that the plug was in before it got to the water.

As you can imagine the last few days have been busy. The main Yanmar generator needs a new exciter coil which we won't be able to get until we get back to Grenada, if then. Mike and Jeff have been working on the Onan trying to get that going so at least we have our own household power (at the moment we're running on a borrowed portable), then they have to get the old blue wind-up Isanthall going so that we can get 3-phase to pump up the air-bottles, run the crane and windlass, oh and the bilge pump too. And then we have to fix the main engine ... it never rains but it pours as they say.

In amongst all this I've been trying to organise Tony's ticket to go back to Indonesia for a few months. After the problems we had with Johan being returned from Barbados I decided to go through the travel agent we ended up using in Grenada. All was good and we booked a ticket leaving the 14th Dec and coming back on the 8th Feb. Only by the time the itinerary came through he was leaving on the 21st and the price had gone up nearly $500. I was not best pleased, and neither was Tony as he'd told his family when he would be back.

After lots of phone calls, emails and internetting I eventually found another flight leaving on the 19th for the same price and called up the agents who then booked it. Maybe I should become a travel agent.

I guess the next blog will be around Christmas. Not sure where we'll be for it. Last year was Bequia and the year before Venezuela, I think we'll probably be in Grenada for this one ... but then who knows!

Love to everyone ....

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