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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Hash House Hariers Hike
08/11/2007, Florida, Grenada

A wave is predicted to come of off Africa in the next couple of days that the forecasters are fairly stirred up about. I don't like that kind of foreshadowing. We'll keep an eye on this one.

We took a trip inland today to do some hashing. I had no idea what this was before we arrived in Grenada. The Hash House Harriers are apparently world wide. The story, as I have heard it, is that some Brit ex pats in Indonesia used to hang out on Saturdays at the Hash House and drink. At some point someone decided that they could drink more if they did a hike right before the drinking. The rest is apparently history.

Each hike is different and somewhat ad hoc. One of the regular hashers is assigned to Set the Hash (establish the route) by the Hash Master. The Hashers in Grenada go out every other Saturday and once a year they trek to Cariacou for a special Hash.

We caught a right with CYM (they have a really fast dinghy) to the Carenage where the newbies wait for a ride to the Hash. The regular hashers stop by and pick up everyone they can at no charge. We got lucky enough to catch a ride with Arthur, a native Grenadian. He worked at a museum associated with one of the old Rum Distilleries on the island. It was a long ride to the town of Florida but Arthur made the ride interesting and gave us lots of information about the places that we drove by.

Florida is a little town up in the mountains in the center of Grenada. It started to rain right after we arrived. It stopped right after we left. The hike was awesome. It literally trekked right through the jungle. No path to speak of other than the one the folks in front of you had trod down.

The Hash setter drops confetti on the ground to mark the course. The setter for this hike got a late start and didn't hook the trail up with the other half that had been marked. The rain made tracking the trail down a little difficult as well. Hashers have their own lingo for these situations. If you call out to folks ahead of you they will say, "On On!", to indicate that the trail is afoot and you should head their way. However, if you hear, "On Back!", you know things have gone south up ahead and you need to go back to look for the place that you lost the trail. We on backed all the way to the start since our half of the trail never met the other half. It was still a great hash and we hope to do it again in a couple of weeks. I really enjoyed being in the rain forest and some of the vistas were fantastic.

At the end of the hike folks hang out and mix over beers. During this window, hash virgins, are singled out for indoctrination. We discovered that this involves running a gauntlet while everyone sprays said beer at you. At the end you get a certificate that supposedly protects you from such wasteful beer spraying in the future. We were already soaked so it wasn't so bad.

The little restaurant/bar that was hosting the hashers had started to prepare the national dish, Oil Down. It is a delicious mixture of dumplings, chicken (often but not always), Saffron (this is the local name but I think it is turmeric), bread fruit, coconut milk, and other ingredients. Our ride had to go before it was finished but it smelled great and we ended up having some for lunch later in the week.

We all felt bad for Arthur's car, because to the man, Peter, Debbie, Josh, Mathias, Hideko and I were all soaked with beer. I guess he knew it was going to happen anyway. Serves him right for not telling us.

Arthur dropped us off at the yacht club where Peter had tied up the dinghy. We all thanked him heartily for the wonderful hospitality. Back at the boat we stayed conscious just long enough to take a shower. We slept soundly.

Dinner at Port Louis
08/10/2007, Saint Georges

It was another flat calm day in the Ross Point anchorage. We declared it official catch up on your reading day and proceeded to do so. We dinghied into the lagoon for dinner at Port Louis with the Audrey crew and CYM. The food and music were both great. The tunes were loud so discussion had to give way to dancing.

Bottom Cleaning Finale
08/09/2007, Ross Point

We were enjoying the Ross Point Anchorage. It is not as pretty as Morne Rouge but it is very close to the port. It is also just a hop around the point to Grand Anse. You have to look around for reasonable depth and good bottom in this anchorage but there's lots of space when you find it. Hideko and I really like to anchor out. Marinas and close harbors have their advantages and are nice from time to time but there's nothing like space, facing into the wind and being able to swim (without being scared) right off the back of your boat.

Hideko decided to do just that this morning. She got on her snorkeling gear and head out to explore the area around the boat. I had found some eels hiding in rocks and a lot of other interesting sights while taking a break from the bottom cleaning yesterday. I walked forward to watch Hideko swimming out. As I did I noticed a huge black shadow in the water. I got very concerned and started calling to Hideko as I jogged up to the bow. Then I realized that it was a Manta Ray! His little white wing tips would come out of the water every now and again.

When I got Hideko's attention and pointed the Ray out she swam over. She swam with the Manta for a minute or so and then he took off faster than she could keep pace. That was the first Manta sighting in the wild for both of us, and not soon forgotten.

I went through another two tanks of air completing the bottom clean up. What a job. The barnacles and the grassy algae at the waterline are evil. We are at the 10 month point with the bottom paint. I think the bottom is probably still good for another six months to a year. The waterline is another matter. It is hard to get rid of the grassy stuff and you scrub the waterline more often. I don't think that there's any paint left at the waterline. I'd like to hold off as long as possible on the next bottom paint because I'd like it to be fresh for our Pacific crossing in April. Services get pretty sparse between Panama and New Zealand.

Hideko made fantastic Churasco Steak sandwiches as a treat for completing the bottom cleaning. Our friends Jenny and Kenny who own the Wake Zone at the Lauderdale Marine Center gave us the recipe. I wonder how they're doing and whether they've gone off sailing.

Peter and Debbie invited us over for dominoes tonight. We had a nice time and got a tour of CYM which is a Prout 50. I never realized Prout made a 50 until I saw CYM. It is a great boat and very well built. They have an Aero rig which is pretty wild. Peter and I wiled away the evening discussing catamarans. It is nice to have another cat skipper to jaw with from time to time.

Ross Point
08/08/2007, Saint Georges

Hideko and I were really enjoying the convenience of the lagoon. Free wifi, Island Water World is across the street, there are several restaurants, the capital is across the way and even the grocery store even has a dinghy dock. On the down side the rain has brought all of the trash thrown into the creeks and rivers upstream into the lagoon. Plastic bags and other unidentifiable objects have been drifting by since last night. My bottom is already in need of attention and I don't want to make matters worse. The bugs are really bad right after the rain also. Add to that little breeze, questionable anchoring practices and close quarters.

We decided to move outside later in the afternoon. This decision set off a raft of plans for taking advantage of the lagoon today. We picked up a few things at Island Water World and visited the Ace Hardware/Napa store across the parking lot. When the grocery store opened we ransacked the place. I had never seen Little Star so full. Good thing it was only 100 feet back to the big boat.

Later in the morning we met Audrey and See You Manana for brunch. We met some new cruisers there as well and had a great time discussing various travels around the Caribbean. Cruisers are always trying to pick each other's brains for info on future anchorages. It's great when you run across someone going the way you came and coming from the way your going. This is usually a good opportunity for a chart swap as well.

Peter and Debbie on CYM have two sons enrolled in the Yacht Club's sailing schools. It is an amazing deal and gets the kids out on little cat boats every day for a few weeks. The kids were really enjoying it.

CYM was having some maintenance done and Peter wanted to swap out one of his folding props. We decided to both move out to Ross Point and do the job with SCUBA. So after our relaxing breakfast (for the first time every I think the carib folks were thinking we were taking our time!) we motored out of the harbor to the anchorage at the point.

Although we were only in 10 feet of water I asked Peter to go through the Discover Scuba session with me. He was a great sport and we knocked the basics out quickly. Peter had all of the tools setup in a net hung off of the rail. Once we were under the boat it took a while to get the folding prop off. Lots of parts, many very small. We didn't lose anything I'm happy (and surprised) to say. I am famous for dropping important things into the ocean. I am very close to buying one of those underwater metal detectors just for this reason.

We took a little break after getting the first prop off which took the better part of a half hour. The prop Peter was putting on was a one piece. I was ready for a similar process but the one piece took two minutes to get secured. As I swam back to Swingin on a Star I saw the grassy algae waving in the current. Ug.

I bit the bullet and started scrubbing. You typically want to brush the bottom very lightly so that you take off only the outermost layer of paint and the critters along with it. Unfortunately barnacles, and I had a lot, don't come off unless you really get after them. The grassy stuff at the waterline also takes a bit of elbow grease to get rid of.

I went through two tanks (which is some serious bottom time at 3 feet average depth). I had one hull really clean and made a little impact on the other. One part that needed no cleaning at all was the props. We had them painted with Prop Speed and the stuff is amazing. It is really expensive but it work like magic. The drive legs were worse than the rest of the boat however. I always worry about these because on a saildrive boat the raw water for the diesels is drawn up through the drive leg. When the little vents get grown over you get water flow restriction. I think that I may spring for Prop Speed on the drive legs and the props next time around.

Topside Hideko had noticed a skiff on a mooring in front of us that had taken on so much water in the rains that the boat was swamped with the outboard totally submersed. Some folks were trying to swim it to the shore. Hideko went out to give them a hand and ended up towing the boat ashore, not to mention giving the kids a ride.

Saint Georges Lagoon
08/07/2007, Saint Georges

We had a bit of weather move by this morning. Some time around mid morning we saw a bit of west wind. I watched things for a bit to see if it would follow through. It did, enough for me anyway. It was light but the boat was slowly sliding west and nearing the anchor. I think we could have gone all the way west and still been afloat but I wasn't completely sure. Beaching your boat is one of those things you want to be sure about.

We picked up the anchor and decided to move to the lagoon to see what that was like. Two of our friends, the boats Audrey and See You Manana, were already there and enjoying the proximity to the stores and restaurants. There's a bit of reef on the sides of the harbor entrance so we followed the shipping channel in. This takes you right to the cargo ship dock. Just in front of the dock you take a right and follow the markers in to the lagoon.

The lagoon is about 12 feet throughout and was very crowded on this particular day. We went all the way to the back near the market's dock and took a spot that the guy next to us said had poor holding. We set the anchor with no real problem and we were definitely holding.

It rained a lot today and the wind did a bit of light and variable on the anchorage. This caused the usual collision scare and set up some anchor fouling for the bigger winds to follow. Boats were constantly moving about the anchorage reanchoring. In my book this is a sign that you should leave. It kept raining off and on all day though so we stayed put for the night.

Our Splendid washer/dryer broke down when the genset overheated in Rodney Bay. We have been wanting to fix it but have had a hard time figuring out who at Splendid to contact and then how to contact them.

Island Water World is right on the lagoon and they offer free wifi for the boats in the area. Very kind of them! After a lot of hard work by Hideko, she got on a chat with the Spendid rep over the Internet. Our washer/dryer is in the bow in front of the owners bathroom. It is tricky to get behind it and that was, of course, the first thing the rep wanted us to do. Hideko looked at me. I looked at her. Then I said, you're the smallest!

Hideko climbed up behind the Splendide and took the back off as I typed frantically at the factory rep. After a bit of work we, surprisingly, got it working. A lead had come loose on one of the sensors.

We are not at the one year mark yet but my goal is to have everything setup the way I want it and working properly by then. We are getting close to this elusive state. A big part of it is learning the multitude of things you need to know to take care of all this stuff. A cruising boat is basically a power plant, a water district, a weather station, a radio station, a gas company, a home, and, oh yeah, a boat. There's a lot to know just to be able to operate everything properly not to mention performing the necessary maintenance and handling the unexpected.

Morne Rouge
08/06/2007, Grenada

I started cleaning the bottom today. I did some underwater work on the boat in Leverick Bay, BVI, but have not touched it since. There is a coral reef on the bottom of our lovely boat.

Things got going in the Maya Cove lagoon in Tortola. We were there for a few weeks and it was not a source of pure spring water. Next we sat in the Saint Martin lagoon for a few weeks getting some work done. I wasn't getting in that water either and I was scared of what was happening down there. After that we were underway with a purpose. Now that we're in Grenada and in a fairly safe zone, hurricane-wise, we have finally started to slow down.

Some say that cruising is working on you boat in exotic places. That is certainly part of it. I spent about 4 hours scrubbing today and I have barely made a dent. I'm guessing that I'll need two or three more such days before she will be respectable again.

We are really enjoying the beautiful Morne Rouge setting. There are a fair amount of pleasure boats and folks on the beach during the day but the early morning and evenings are very peaceful.

Morne Rouge
08/05/2007, Grenada

It was flat calm this morning. I know I've been saying that but today it was crazy flat. We decided to head down toward Saint Georges but there was really no wind so we up anchored and motored down the coast.

Saint Georges is a pretty town. The Carenage bay is basically a flooded volcano with a charming town climbing up the hill sides from the harbor. There's a cruise ship dock on the Caribbean Sea side and a shipping quay at the southeast side of the harbor. Just past the shipping dock is a channel that leads to the Lagoon.

There is a marina in the lagoon and many boats anchor in the lagoon itself. There was a second yacht club on the west side of the lagoon which has been leveled and the new Port Louis Marina is on the way. The Port Louis Marina will ultimately take up the entire lagoon but presently there's just a construction dock and a nice restaurant. Good burgers here.

As we cruised by we noticed that the lagoon was fairly crowded. They don't like cruising yachts anchoring in the Carenage, but there is an anchorage right outside the harbor on the south side by Ross Point that is pretty good and close to the town. The anchorage doesn't have a nice beach of its own but it is close to Grand Anse which is lovely.

We ended up passing the Saint Georges area by, and on Hideko's guidance, we headed for a little harbor called Morne Rouge. You are not allowed to anchor Grand Anse but Morne Rouge is just to the south and said to be just as beautiful. They don't list Morne Rouge as an anchorage in the guide because inside the actual bay the depth is in the 5-6 feet range.

Not a problem for us. We crept into the bay slowly looking for a good spot to drop the hook. There are not many sand patches here and the bottom is more generally littered with live rock and coral rock. There are lots of creatures living in environments like this and big swinging chains aren't very conservation minded.

After some looking we finally found a good patch of sand in about seven feet of water. We were still pretty far out but if the wind shifted west we would swing into some sand on the shallow side of the anchor. Things were settled for the foreseeable future though so we decided to stay. We took a swim to look the anchor over and enjoy the clear refreshing water.

Many of the locals were enjoying the sun on the beach. The carnival in Grenada was starting to heat up. I don't exactly understand how the carnivals schedule out but at least a weeks worth of festivities are involved and things get more and more crazy toward the end. All of the islands do their carnivals at different times also. I'm fairly certain that you could start with Trinidad in February (supposedly the mother of all carnivals) and keep carnivaling all the way to August in Grenada.

Hideko, Roq and I relaxed in the cockpit to enjoy the cooling evening and the amazingly flat Caribbean Sea. Once the sun is down it doesn't take long before we're down for the count as well. We turned in and just as I was getting to sleep I heard a ruckus to the south. I looked out of the boat and fireworks were going off. We rousted ourselves to enjoy a nice fireworks display (I think launched from the airport). There's no better place to watch fireworks from than a boat in the bay! The unexpected things are some of the best experiences in cruising.


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