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Going nowhere fast
24/05/2012, Woburn, Grenada

Yet another fun-filled action packed few weeks here in paradise. So .. what's been happening?

We ran out of water and had to make a trip with the Buzzard into St. George's to fill up at the dock. Stan, Cora, Jeanne, Ron, Chris, Linda and Jeff came with us for the ride, which was just as well as we still don't have any crew. The water's cheap ($80 US for 30 tonnes) but because we're over 200 tonnes we have to pay $300 US for a pilot to take us into the dock. Still it's good to know we're full again and won't have to worry about that for another six months or so. By which time, fingers crossed, we should have the new awning up and be catching our own anyway.

The weather was relatively calm which was good as we've been having quite a lot of wind recently. A squall came through the other night and several boats dragged, including Calabuig, the 100ft yacht anchored near us. We didn't hear anything above the wind and the rain and because we're the furthest out and the wind was blowing in, but apparently there were horns blaring and dinghies roaring around and people shouting for help.

We bought a new (used) 15 hp Honda 4-stroke outboard with the hope that it would be more economical that the gas guzzling Yamaha and easier for me to run. Mike promises me it will be once he fixes the choke and carb, but so far we've had to be towed twice which doesn't inspire my confidence. We now have five outboards, or parts thereof, on the deck ... maybe we should open a shop. (Breaking news: Mike's fixed the problems and it now starts first pull.)

Last Saturday we were at Island View to watch the Champions League Final which was a great afternoon, not least because Chelsea won and our friend Joe is a Bayern Munich supporter, but the whole atmosphere and local involvement was quite something. Afterwards we went to see Stan and Cora et al play their final gig before leaving for the summer and Mike was in such a celebratory mood he was up dancing on the table.

We finally got rid of all the truck tyres that we used to use as fenders which has really opened up the back deck and created some space. It started a bit of clean up campaign which included the crews and led us to a stash of rotten fish that had been buried under a pile of flags on the shelf just inside the crew quarters' door. Tony wasn't a particularly keen fisherman so we think they must have been there since Johan left; the smell was horrendous and days later we're still trying to fumigate the place.

Last Friday night we thought we'd lost Toby on the beach. He's normally not far from the water and constantly bringing sticks or coconuts or conch shells for us throw, but when we went to leave he just wasn't there. Mike wanted to leave him there till the morning but in the end we stayed and had two more beers waiting for him to eventually show up. The next night we found out some locals had come hunting and left a young bitch on the island. We've seen her twice now, a cute little brown and white thing which may or may not be in process of creating Toby dogs ... if she does there's already a waiting list of people who want a dog just like Toby.

Yesterday we went with Jeff to take his boat round to St. David's ready to haul out. It was fairly rough and we were heading straight into the wind so it was motoring all the way but it all went ok. He leaves next Tuesday and is really looking forward to getting back to the family ... apparently there's only so much sun and rum you can have before you get bored, but we'll miss him and will endeavour to stop off in Toronto to see him and June when we're in Canada.

After St. David's we went up to Grenville to visit a friend of Mike's on one of the Cariacom mini-freighters that go between here and Trinidad. The local dock was a hive of activity reminiscent of our time in the Cape Verdes. There was yelling, and bustling and crates being loaded and crabs being tied in boxes, there was also supposed to be cows but they didn't want to go. As so often happens when we're out and about and not in the tourist areas, we were the only white faces to be seen and were more than welcomed.

We heard from James today to say he'll be back tomorrow, and this time I'm holding my breath; there can't possibly be any more people to die on Union. Once he's back we've got a week or so of work that Mike needs help with and then we're booking flights to Canada. It will be the first time Mike's been off the boat for years, and it will be great for him to see all his long lost Canadian friends.

Yesterday afternoon we were supposed to be having a stuffed breadfruit cook-off on Hog Island. Mike mixed up his three different stuffings and off we went, only the locals who were supposed to be joining us didn't turn up (probably something to do with the rain we had in the morning. It's now the end of the dry season, not that we had much of one, and the beginning of the hurricane season so we're getting more rain.). Anyway, luckily Jeanne and Ron were there with more than enough food to BBQ so we just cooked the stuffing without the breadfruit and a good time was had by all.

Saturday it's my birthday and I'm not sure yet what the plan is, it may even be turtle watching. Many thanks to all that have sent birthday wishes.

Love to everyone ....

PS It's now the next day and James hasn't turned up ... guess it's time to stop holding my breath, and look for more crew.

Hanging in there
06/05/2012, Woburn, Grenada

Two and a half weeks since Tony left for Indonesia and not much happening. We heard from a friend of his who said his hernia is apparently getting bigger but he's adamant that he'll rely on traditional medicine rather than go for an operation. It's no longer our problem, and there's not much we can do, but we really hope he sees sense soon otherwise things could go horribly wrong.

James still isn't back; he's apparently been to eight funerals since he went to Union at the end of February. Considering there can't be more than 3000 people on the island that's an awful lot of his friends and relatives who are dying ... Mike reckons staying there is a danger to the island and he should leave asap. We should hear tomorrow if he's coming back next week, or not.

I guess we should just be enjoying the peace and quiet while we're on our own but it's difficult to relax when you know there's just so much still to do. We had hoped we'd have started with the decks by now but don't seem to have the enthusiasm at the moment. Things aren't helped by the problems we're having trying to get paid for the work we did for the freighters. They were all over us when they needed our help but now we're getting the Caribbean run around and Mike's constantly on the phone trying to come up with solutions and sort it out.

Jeff's friends, Alex and Gavin, arrived from Canada and we've spent some time with them. Mike took them out fishing last Sunday but unfortunately they didn't catch anything, apparently they even had trouble catching the mooring buoy when they got back!

Our friends Stan and Cora are back from Bequia waiting to leave their boat in the mangroves when they go back to Germany at the end of May. Lots of people are starting to haul boats and leave now the hurricane season is once again upon us and the weather's warming up.

Robin from Bequia also turned up last weekend. He was supposed to be delivering his plasma cutter for repair, only he flew into Grenada and then realised the company it had to go to was in Trinidad. He spent a couple of nights with us on the Buzzard though which was nice.

On the Saturday we took him out to the monthly Victoria Food Fair, which is a bit like the Gouyave Fish Friday but not only fish. We went on an organised(ish) tour with Jeff and his friends, Phil from Beothuck, and a few others from the anchorage. It wasn't the most successful trip we've had. The maxi picked us up at 5.15 pm and, after a making a 30 minute detour to pick other people up, and then going through the St. George's rush-hour, we didn't get up there until 7.30, and when you're crammed in the back of a maxi a two hour journey is an awful long time.

One of the main roads was closed off but the stalls weren't even finished setting up which was our first inkling that it might be a later night than we'd imagined. Followed by the fact that the driver said he'd be back at the maxi any time from 11.30 to 1 a.m. Given that yatchty midnight is 9 p.m, and us oldies are no longer used to such late nights, this wasn't a welcome development.

We wandered off to explore but the pounding music was just a bit too much for us. On either side of the 15 foot wide road there were banks of loud speakers stacked 10 feet high and three feet deep, and the beat was so strong your whole body vibrated and your heart jumped as you passed them. A hundred feet further on there was yet another bank pounding out different music, and on and on up the whole length of the street.

We got to the end of the road, turned down the main street and found a quiet pool bar next to the police station, which is where we stayed most of the evening. We did make one foray out for food, which included iguana, crab, manicou (possum I think), cow-face souse and various other delicacies that were all over priced and under-served. The only thing I could stomach was fried breadfruit.

By 9 pm we were all ready to leave, except Phil who wanted to listen to the steel pan band. At 9.30 we braved the vibrating street once again, getting hustled by the crowd who were all letting their inhibitions go with the music and gyrating to the beat and each other. We found the maxi and then spent an hour trying to round up the rest of the travellers, just getting one on the bus as another went to get a last minute beer. Eventually we headed out around 10.30 and were back just after midnight; the real midnight.

It was quite the experience though and obviously very much a local affair with families dancing and meeting and letting the kids run free. Not quite sure what it would have been like at 2 in the morning though.

Last Wednesday the SV Irene, an old Baltic Trader, came into Hog Island. The boat has been trying to set up a trading route between Europe and the Caribbean, bringing wine and olive oil here and taking rum back. They hosted a wine tasting and tapas night which went down well, apart from the fact that Mike doesn't like wine, not good wine anyway.

I had my last dentist appointment (for a few weeks anyway). They attached the back of my loose tooth to the two adjoining ones which has hopefully stopped its wobble, although it took me a while to get used to what feels like a gob of chewing gum stuck to my teeth. Now I'm just dealing with blurred vision, caused by astigmatism I think, and a right shoulder than keeps going into spasm for some reason ... oh the joys of aging!

Yesterday we were supposed to be sailing from St. George's back round to Hog with Jeff but Mike decided the FA cup final was more important. Then we got over to Island View to watch it and it wasn't being televised. Still, at least he did get to see the Chelsea v. Barcelona match the other week which was quite the event.

We still haven't given up on getting some time off the boat but until James gets back it's hard to organise. At this rate it may well be straight to Canada a the end of May.

Love to all ....

Crewless once again ...
22/04/2012, Woburn, Grenada

All quiet(ish) on the Buzzard. Tony left for Indonesia last Wednesday after refusing all offers to help him get sorted out here in Grenada. We ended up taking him back to the hospital on Good Friday and although the doctor reassured him that he was not in any danger he remained adamant about going back. One thing that was quite poetic/funny was the doctor he saw at the hospital was a 26yr old female, very much to Tony's chagrin. When Mike was dismissed from the translating duties (like having to put 'bowel movement' into something Tony would understand) the doctor asked him to remove his clothes and lay on the table ... the look on his face was priceless, especially given his strong chauvanistic tendencies ................ LOLOL

Anyway, there was not a great deal we could do about it in the end, just pay for the ticket and wish him the best. Can't see that we'll ever meet again.

James has, finally, been in touch and may be back next week, or not as the case may be, so we're on our own. It makes for a calm boat which is good, and we're still managing to get a few jobs done, but unfortunately it also means our few days off the boat, has had to be put on hold.

My tooth is still not sorted and I had to go back for an emergency abscess draining and more antibiotics (the only side-effect of these being photo-sensitivity which made my toes go pink) BUT, fingers, pink toes and everything else crossed, it does seem better and hopefully when I go in the morning the hole in my tooth can finally be filled permanently. Then I apparently just have to have splints put on to check the mobility issue and it's done. I'm a little bit anxious about the cost as I haven't paid anything yet and I've had almost fifteen appointments over the last six weeks ... but I guess a front tooth is worth it.

We managed a quiet night out at Sep's with June and Jeff the night before June returned to Toronto. Just the luck of the draw that we really didn't get to spent much time with her this trip, but you never know we may get to see her in Canada sooner rather than later as Mike has to go back to re-new his driving license before September.

We helped organise a 70th birthday party on Hog Island for our friend Don on Easter Monday which was good and much appreciated, especially the cake I made. He's now in Trinidad painting the bottom of his boat, and Rudi is now in St. Martin looking for crew to sail back across the Atlantic with him.

Mike, Jeff and three others had a guys fishing/bilge pumping day out on the Buzzard last Friday. They took off around 1 pm and went out to the 12 mile bank, getting back just before dark. In amongst the beer and the rum they even managed to catch three barracudas and a tuna. I spent the day on Jeff's boat, in the rain. We seem to be having an awful lot of rain considering it's still the dry season.

Jeff kindly went down and cleaned the prop before they went out. Our friend Scott had gone done a few weeks before to replace the anodes, there being no sign of the ones we attached before we left the UK, surprise, surprise. While Scott was down there he took some video footage of the bottom. We have a scarily big eco-system living down there where we haven't managed to reach with the scrapers, and even our own resident crab colony around the intake valves. All quite beautiful; maybe we could start an in-house reef diving centre. Or maybe we have to start thinking about the necessity of hauling out ... no, that's even more scary!

We're still having outboard problems unfortunately. The 8 hp proved not only to be frustratingly slow and unable to plane but also a worse gas guzzler than the 25 hp. Mike switched them round again and took the 8 hp to get looked at. Apparently it needs a new diaphragm for the carbuerator and also a new reed valve, both of which have to ordered from the States so we're hurrying up and waiting on those.

Ron and Jeanne's heat exchanger went and Mike just happened to have a spare one down in our hold so he's been helping Ron reconfigure his system to incorporate the new one. I sometimes wonder what we don't have down in that hold, well except for the stuff we seem to need.

I still haven't finished the new blog site yet. I'm struggling to find a way to transfer the photo albums from this blog to the new one, without having to individually copy and paste all the photos, of which there are quite a lot. If any of you computer literate folks out there have any ideas please let me know.

Toby and Nellie are fine. There are quite a few young kids around Hog Island at the moment so Toby gets lots of attention and play-mates to help him dig holes. And we actually get to have a couple of beers without constantly having to throw sticks or coconuts in the water, which is a good result all round.

Love to all .... Don't be shy about commenting either !!

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