A congenial evening with friends we are missing!
Sorry for the long delay in posting, but after a very quick (and rough, wet and grey) trip north to the Cays with Captain Craig and Inez the last week of February we have been in a whirlwind of travel.
Late Feb - Our friends from Ocean Jedi joined us on the trip north with the honeymooners as OJ was not quite ready for habitation and I can honestly say that this was the roughest of our five trips from Grenada to the Cays to date. As it is LATE February...do you suppose a moderation of the Christmas winds and unseasonable high winds and sea would be too much to ask? Apparently so, and we experienced high winds (25-30) with the correspondingly rough seas (up to 12 feet at times). However Inez was a trouper and we all had a great time anyway!
We arrived back in Grenada and said goodbye to Craig & Inez, then hello to Paul and Sue, our brit friends, who are boat sitting for us. They came aboard as we left on Tuesday Mar 1st to head home. Over the weekend we skyped with our friends back on Regenero and I cannot tell you how strange it was to be seeing her from the other side...and very wrong. Good grief, what were we thinking! We are FREEZING back in Chicago, and having sun-withdrawals after 5 months aboard in 80+ degree weather. Our friends informed us that the moment we boarded the plane in Grenada the sun came out, the rain dried up and it has been lovely with mild weather and a 10-15 knt breeze. I am trying not to take it personally.
After a week at home where we saw most of the family, our spectacular Grandsons, and celebrated Mom's birthday we packed suits and warm clothes and were back on a plane and landed in Bucharest on Thursday, Mar10th where Jim is teaching this month. Now in Romania the weather is quite nice, for March, with today's temp hitting 60 and the sun shining everyday so far. As usual Jim contracted a cold, and has had to teach with a stuffed head and sleep deprivation. Unfortunately, I (Ms. iron-constitution) also got sick this time around. I suppose a temp drop of 50 degrees plus traveling 15,000+ air miles in 10 days can do that to a person. Added to that, the hotel, while quite nice in most aspects has the usual Romanian indoor temperature of near 80 degrees, with no circulation and a dry winter heat.
However, all that said, we are glad to be here, revisiting old friends and making new ones, even though it is the middle of the cruising season and we are decidedly NOT cruising.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
WOW - end of Feb already. We are here in Grenada and have had company this past week as our friends on Ocean Jedi stay with us while overseeing the work on their boat. Our dear new friends John and Sandy came in last week, and just left this morning to points north where we are planning to meet up with them in a few days and we are waiting for Cap'n Craig and Inez to join us Late Monday and make a run for the Tobago Cays on Tuesday. Of course the winds are forecast to be 20-22 and 6 foot swells, what else is new? But we are planning to have a great run anyway!
Looking forward to seeing everyone at home in a very short time.
Wednesday, Feb 9th. A long day home
We wake at dawn, and hear a nearby windlass hauling chain...looks like we are not the only ones attempting to get moving today. After the coffee is cooked and we have our morning prayer we up anchor, set a single reef in the main, and head out to the south. We can clearly see a squall moving on us, and so leave off the jib for now. We follow the Stadt Amsterdam, a beautiful 245 ft Dutch Schooner out of the harbor and follow in her wake, as she is heading down to the Cays today. The anticipated squall arrives, and blows past us bringing 30 kts, and a bit of rain...however it is thru relatively quickly, and the day starts looking a little brighter. We set the Jib and kill the engines and enjoy a downwind sail...with 6 - 8 ft swells that were relatively comfortable after some of the conditions we have had these past weeks. The boat handles it just fine! We decide to leave the Jib out even though a second squall is approaching...this one makes the Amsterdam disappear ahead of us and again brings us sustained winds at 30....when the boat speed goes from 11 kts to 14 as we are surfing down a wave Jim decides we really do have too much canvas out and so we shorten sail to less than a storm Jib while it blows....sorry Admiral, the boat sailing speed record is now 14 knts....and personally...I would rather NOT see it again anytime!
We skirt by all the Grenadines, and sail to the west of Union Island to sneak a peek at Chatham Bay. It looks spacious and protected, with a lovely beach and we decide we'll have to stop there sometime. The wind, which was blowing 20 without the squalls settles here on the protected West side on Union to 10-15, and boats leaving Chatham Bay are setting full canvas outside and heading North....umm, NOT a good idea people...but they will soon see. In fact we toy with turning on the engines, as the boat speed has slowed down so much...then we realize that we are still sailing at 6 knts! After running a sustained 8.5-10 for the last 4 hours....6 seems really slow!
After we clear the wind shadow of Union Island, we are back to 15 - 20 knts of breeze and cruising again. However the seas are blocked just here so we are in 3-4 foot swells only. The sun has come out and the day is looking really lovely...however kick'em Jenny is still ahead of us, and we cannot see Grenada ahead of us as she is shrouded in clouds... we are out of the woods yet!
As expected the seas south of Carricou are their typical washing machine, so after being shaken for about 10 miles we approach the north end of Grenada, and our last squall of the day..this time we shorten the Jib waaaay down, and breeze thru it with no rain. Then haul the full Jib out, the seas lay down completely and we sail the last 12 miles of the trip in picture perfect conditions. After the winds completely ease we start the engines only to find that one is not spitting water as needed, so we shut it down knowing we must now dock the boat with only 1 engine...doable...but not our preference, depending on where they need to put us. Oh well, we still have one engine....after all, that is one reason we bought a catamaran!
Near 4 we drop the sails and call into Port Louis to arrange berth. I advise that we are short an engine, and request they put us in an easy spot...Derek laughs thru the radio, and places us at the end of the long floating dock ... easy, easy in and Jim walks her right up to the slip like he had two engines running. Quickly we are tied up, checked in, and here comes our friend Joost to welcome us back! A hot, freshwater shower, and a few pina coladas later, and by 7:30 I am tucked up in my berth and nearly asleep. Ahhhhhhhhhh!
Tuesday, Feb 1st
Today we decide to head to Mayreau, a few miles to the west. Thru the cut and over the other side of the islands we can see the 5 masts of a clipper ship and so we up anchor and cruise out that way for a closer look. We past Walter waiting in his Pirogue and waved goodbye to our friend from the Cays! Then we skimmed around the north end of Mayreau (pronounced my - roo, Not your - roo!) and then south to Saline Bay. We found a lovely wide bay with good sandy holding, and what looks like a great snorkeling spot on the south end. We launched the dingy and headed into town to explore. The dingy dock is ok here, and we go ashore and walk up to town, which is Nearly straight UP! There is a church at the highest point of the island, which the enterprising early priest made sure to build a large water catchment system in order to aid the island. The views from the top are wonderful and you can see the Cays and all the shades of water there so vibrantly. On our way down the hill (a MUCH nicer walk!) we stopped for lunch at Dennis Hideaway and had a very nice (and typically SLOW served) lunch. (Mr. Backseater - eating out here would make YOU Crazy!). one our way back to the boat we stopped and shopped at the ladies roadside stand and I bought a nice top and skirt - typical island attire. Then we headed back to the boat, and strapped on our snorkel gear and were off to discover. For the first time the current was nearly non-existent and so we were able to really relax and take our time in the water. We saw several spotted Moray eels here as well as a balloon fish and many other typical species.
We stopped off also at the beach - which was wide, lovely and deserted. Mayreau rates a hit and must return status in our book!
Wednesday, Feb 2nd
Today we wake to a visit from our friend WALTER, who is usually over at the Cays, but he decided that since he thought we were heading this way, and things were slow in the cays this morning, he would stop over and see if we needed anything. Of course we grabbed some fresh bread from our special friend. We headed out north planning to make Canouan, only about 8 miles from here. We decide to stay at the bay Louise and I saw when kayaking there. It was a bit hard to spot, as it is really not charted, and there were no boats anchored there. Since it doesn't appear to have a name we dubbed it Karen's Bay. When we got in we dropped the anchor in clear water about 15 ft deep, then the Admiral hit the water to snorkel the anchor. Even in clear water it is tough to tell the difference between rocks and weed, and unfortunately he discovered we were hooked on a rock, rather than in sand. So we retrieved the anchor while he stayed in the water and reconnoitered a good sandy spot to drop the hook. After anchoring properly in sand we had lunch, then the boys went snorkeling, while the girls broke out the kayak and explored the bay, the cliffs and the small rocky beach.
It was a perfect afternoon and we made the most of it. Only a few other boats came into this spot, and later in the day we discovered why. The winds are light and the water is calm, we don't get the gusts like on the other side of the bay, but there is a strange swirling current that makes the boats point every which way. Although we were hooked and holding fine, this made for a difficult night sleep for me.
The highlight of this perfect day was the night sky viewing...DARK skies, millions (billions?) of stars and 11 satellites spotted...a boat record for sure.
Thursday, Feb 3rd
Up anchor and away to Bequia. This will be the longest of our Northbound trips this week, and there certainly has been no change to the wind or sea state. So we head out with a reefed main into 8 -12 foot swells and 25-30 kts of breeze. We motor sailed the whole 20 or so miles North, and the only thing I can tell you was that when we got in Jim was exhausted and all I could say was '''that really S@#$*d! Unfortunately it proved a long uncomfortable ride for all of us, however no one got sick and we made it...we are now at Bequia and can relax and enjoy this little jewel of an island.
We went ashore and stopped for lunch at the gingerbread restaurant (next to the snack shoppe) and eventually made it back to the boat for a late, lite supper and an evening of star watching and a few hands of Uno!
Friday Feb 4th
Not moving today so we have a leisurely morning and then the boys went snorkeling while the girls read and relaxed on board. Later we headed to shore to wander the town, and stop at the gingerbread cafÃ© for some lovely snacks, then back to the boat for the night.
Sat, Feb 5th
After waiting for the Charter boat sitting over our anchor to leave this morning we were able to up our anchor about 9am and head the 10 miles North to St. Vincent where we arrived about 11am. The ride north was bumpy, as usual, but not as bad as Thursday's trip from Canouan. After about 20 minutes exiting the harbor Jim handed the helm over to the admiral. The seas are easily 6-8 feet so I was a little nervous about this, and send a message with my stern "JIM". Apparently, that is the same tone used on a day on Lake Michigan when the Admiral was at the helm driving the boat up to Buckingham Fountain. I didn't remember! But the Admiral got right into the groove and was driving the boat well into the swells and well balanced. I stopped worrying...almost! We called and arranged to take a mooring in Young Island Cut (Mar - we are right outside of the resort -and it is beautiful!) from Sam's Taxi. What a great company. They sent a guy, Jambo, to help us moor and see to whatever else we needed. He took us to a mooring right up front, and when I asked him where we could tie our dingy, and he said we should leave it in the davits and take the water taxi in instead. I asked him how late he worked, and he told me...not to worry about it, just have a good time.
Well, with that we arranged to have him pick us up in the water taxi, and have a land taxi take us up thru the Mesopotamia Valley and to the Montreal Gardens. So here Jambo is, driving around the mooring field, on the phone arranging our taxi, while maneuvering his skiff...wonderful...and entertaining. When we got to shore our land driver, Alford, was waiting and took us on a meandering trip up the windward side of the island, and past a black sand beach, also part of the set of the 'pirates' movies. The drive alone was worth the trip, as this part of the island is lush and gorgeous. This was a highlight of my trip to St. Vincent! The gardens were spectacularly beautiful, and we were able to meet the owner, a landscape designer, Timothy, whose special vision this was. 7 plus acres , up in the rainforest, with row upon row of Antheriums, Ginger lilies, hibiscus, fern, and a hundred other plants unrecognizable to me all tumbled together. Paths leading down to a stream wandered thru arches and small sheds making you wonder what you would find beyond the next corner. After leaving this wonderful place, Alford took us along the rim of the crater that formed the valley itself for a spectacular view. After making dinner reservations for the evening, we headed back to the boat for some relaxation and preparation for our final sunset together. The Admiral readied the Conch shell and 2 long blasts marked the suns descent into the sea.
6:45 Jambo collected us for our dinner reservations and we had a terrific fish dinner overlooking the cut and Young Island. After Dinner, Jambo was waiting to take us back to the boat...which is a rare treat, as it is now pitch dark, and only the lights from the boats and the cottages ashore attempt to ease the blackness. A good nights sleep awaits!
Sun, Feb 6th
After a leisurely morning we unfortunately said goodbye to the Admiral & Mrs A as they were off to the airport to head to points north. Jambo returned with our bill, and then we threw off the can and headed South to Bequia. The winds are forecasted to be high for the next few days and we wanted a safer place to sit and wait out the weather. Bequia proved to be the place, but now that the Admiral is gone...the inclement weather returned and while Sunday was breezy but clear, Monday proved to be an all day rain event... with squalls marching thru every hour or so, thru the day and into the evening, good thing we hadn't planned to go anywhere!
By Tuesday the weather cleared and we headed into town, dropped off some garbage and cleared customs in preparation for leaving for Grenada on Wednesday. It looks like we have a good weather window to head south, even though they are still predicting nearly 3 meter swells.
Saturday, Jan 29th
Ready for the Admirals arrival!
We head out to the airport to meet our friends and end up walking a bit to explore Young Island Cut on the way. (Mar - I can see why you chose this as a honeymoon spot! It is remote and lovely, with enough to do...and a great view!) After catching an island bus which had more people than I have EVER seen on it, we hopped out on the way, and walked the last mile to the airport. We had a bit of a mixup and the Admiral and Mrs. A ended up waiting for us at arrivals, while we were on the observation deck waiting to see their plane land...believe me when I tell you this airport is not big enough for this type of mixup to easily occur, but somehow we ended up in the one place we couldn't see them (within the length of a Chicago city block!) When we finally did hook up all was well and Phyllis, was waiting to take us up the West coast to Wallilabou bay for a tour and lunch stop. There is a small waterfall near here and Wallilabou Bay is one of the sets used in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Since Jim and I wanted to see it as a potential anchorage, this seemed to be a good way to do so. The drive was about 45 minutes, and we saw a good bit of the island on the way. After a long Caribbean lunch which for the fish and chicken eaters was good, but the pork eaters (or maybe that was goat?) not so much. Finally we headed back down the coast and after a quick stop at the market were piled in the dingy, with luggage and headed out to the boat. While enroute to us in St. Vincent, the Admiral picked up a conch shell to blow at sunset. As sunset was nearly upon us when we got out to the boat her made ready to sound the Conch! The first attempts were somewhat feeble, but he found his vibe and was able to sound a deep rich tone that resonated thru the Lagoon
Sunday, Jan 30th
We are up and going early today as we decided to make the first day the longest sail of the trip. Of course it helps that it is a downwind run so we set a reefed main, and jib and by 8:30 we are off the can and thru the reef. We were in bumpy seas...but that is nothing new for us, and the winds were blowing 20-23 consistent. After a short time Jim had the Admiral take the helm, and once he got into the groove managed to set the boat sailing speed record of 11 knts...YEOW! Needless to say we covered the 35 miles from St. Vincent to The Tobago Cays in good time and by 12:30 we were anchored and starting the turtle watch. The Admiral and I jumped into the water to snorkel the anchor and snoop around and immediately say a small stingray right beneath the boat. Shortly after, his biiig uncle came by to say hello as well, this one easily three times the size of the first.. The wind is blowing and the current is strong, so we make sure to stay close to ( or upwind of) the boat. Saw a few turtles in the water, but from a distance. My friend Walter came to see us, and he asked about Miss Louise...and if she was coming back. (see, everybody likes Louise!) We arranged for our banana bread and ice delivery, and did a little shopping. We also asked Walter about Saline Bay in Mayreau. He said it was a pretty good holding spot over there, and quiet. We had a bit of rain this afternoon, but it cleared out and we were able to have our first night out on the trampoline watching the stars. As we have no moon just yet we have a very dark sky. The Milky Way stood out clearly, and we discovering that this was the first time the Admiral had ever seen it...wow - what a spectacular place to begin!
Monday, Jan 31st
Today we explore the Cays! We start out by packing a lunch, greasing up with sunscreen and packing the snorkel gear in the Dingy, then off to Baradel to visit the turtles. We prepare to beach the dink on Baradel and so at the appropriate time I jump out, then the Admiral quickly follows behind me as we discussed...unfortunately he got a little stuck on the way out, and did a full body land into the water...ok - that part was not quite as we discussed...but hey...we are going snorkeling anyway! We haul the dingy onto the beach, which is much easier with the extra muscle provided, and have to decide to hike the island, or snorkel first. We decide to hike and so up we go. We explored many new trails I didn't know were on this island, and saw easily a dozen iguana, on the ground, on the trail, in the trees...all over. At one point Jim saw a 10 inch land tortoise sneaking off below the trees at the top of the hill. Never saw that before! Who said these islands were uninhabited. After hiking down to the beach, we jump in the water to visit the turtles. The winds are less today and the current not quite as strong. The water is fairly clear, even close to the beach, and we start to see turtles in water about 10 feet. There were so many today that at one point Jim could see 5 big ones all in the same area. We must have seen a total of 2 dozen within 30 minutes or so, they were all over the place. Mrs. A & I began heading back to the beach, and saw 4 juveniles all together again...some were tagged, but I couldn't tell if they all were. As we got into shallower water we saw 5 dinner plate sized fish, with a long tentacle off the top back fin. Someone said they were angel fish, but they were silver and grey, rather than colored. We later learned they were African Pompano (see photo in the gallery).
After finishing here, we launch the dingy...which goes nearly according to plan, except one of the swells jams the motor down on Jim's thumb and we need to make a detour back to the boat for the first aid kit, before heading over to Petite Bateau which appears deserted. We have worked out our dingy beaching technique and now everything happens flawlessly. I bandage up Jims thumb and we decide to hike before lunch so up we go. About Â½ the way up the hill we meet two guys coming down. We overhear each other saying it is just like the Pacific, and so start a conversation and end up talking to them for 20 minutes or more. They are the Argentine owner and South African crew of a 85 foot motor yacht moored over in the cut. They were a charming pair, but eventually we parted ways and continued up, while they went down. After returning to the beach we discovered our solitude disturbed by 25 or so people wandering down the beach...not to worry - we know just where they are coming from. We continue along the beach and thru the small path to the north western edge of the island. This is the head of the cut and where the day trippers land. They have boutiques set up on the beach and a BBQ being prepared as well. The good news is, the daytrippers only have a limited amount of time on the island, and most were heading back when we were returning to grab our picnic. There was one guy at the big picnic table so we asked to share the space with him, and Jeffrey was happy to let us join his space. HE was alone on this trip as his wife had recently died and he came to the place they most loved to spread her ashes. A sad story, but he had lovely memories of their time together. Shortly Jeffrey and all the other Day trippers heading to the other side, and we were left very nearly alone again. After lunch some of us took a snorkel just off the beach and around to the south...however the current was pretty strong so we quickly headed back to the safety of the reef at the front of the beach.
After finishing up on Petite Bateau, we headed over to Jamesby Island. Launch the dingy, pilot it thru the reefs, approach the next island, identify the reef, pick a spot and beach it...boy do we have this down now! Jamesby is a spectacular beach with a steep trail going up and over to the top. Of course, we hike this, then spend a good amount of time on the windswept top of the island looking out over the amazing water of the Cays. (see pics in the gallery) Personally, I am captivated by the beauty of this place and could spend tons of time here. After a while we decide we are done and so one final launch of the dingy and we head back to the boat to relax...when we get back, we discover it is after 3pm...wow..what a day!