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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Eagles Nest
Randy
09/11/2007, Clifton

The wave that passed by yesterday really whooped up some wind and rain. The tighter gradient between the ridge to the north and the wave has left us with 20 plus knots of breeze. The wave had a huge foot print and we are expecting 20-25 knots until sometime tomorrow. The anchorage is a little choppy where we are but pretty flat given the conditions. The reef a hundred yards in front of us usually has a little pattering surf along its course. Today it was like the Hawaii Five O intro.

We went in to town to meet up with the Island Girl crew for lunch at the Eagles Nest. September is a very slow month here and there are only a hand full of places still serving food. On the way over we stopped at the bank to get some EC, we were down to our last 5 (that's $2 US!). Not only was the bank closed (it was 12:30 and the hours say 1PM) but the ATM was down as well. Joe informed me that it had been down for 3 years once. I decided not to get my hopes up for tomorrow. Joe and Elaine ended up buying us lunch. We all put our best hex on the low pressure brewing around 11N 43W and spent the afternoon talking and having some good laughs.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Island Girl
Randy
09/10/2007, Clifton Harbor

A large band of rain and squalls associated with last night's wave is moving through the area today and tonight. We decided to stay put for the day and catch up on some reading. Early in the morning an Irwin 37 came and anchored nearby. I could tell the crew knew the area because they slipped right in to the best spot, reef all around, with no hesitation. The boat is Island Girl and she and her crew, Joe and Elaine, have been sailing between Bequia and Trinidad for the last eight years. They stopped by to ask about our Walker Bay and we picked their brains about anchorages and eateries (we never hesitate to mine the goods when running across a treasure trove of information). We had seen Island Girl on the way down to Grenada several weeks back so it was nice to finally meet them.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Hammock Day
Randy
09/09/2007, Clifton Harbor

A cool breeze ran late into the morning today. We made good use of it by sleeping in. I declared the day "Hammock Day" shortly after getting up. Hammock Day is a day where no one asks anyone else to do anything and everyone can do anything they want (as long as it doesn't involve asking someone else to do something). This generally eliminates any sort of organized activities and usually produces a lot of reading in the hammock. Sometimes an ambitious project begins, but not usually.

A big (wide and long) tropical wave is supposed to arrive tonight with a bit of rain, possibly squalling in and out over the next day and a half. The wind was coming northeast in the late afternoon and I fully expected to wake up facing southeast.

We moved the boat deeper into the anchorage to cut down on the potential swell. Note the position. This is the place you want to be in Clifton Harbor. You're close to the beach, you have beautiful views all the way around, it is a flat spot in what can otherwise be a bit of a rolly harbor, no dinghies have any reason to zip by your bow, and it is a short trip through settled water to the town dinghy docks. There are reefs all around this little hole but the bottom is sand and it is 10 feet or more throughout. Set up to the east with 75 feet of chain and you'll be good for anything except a west wind or a southern swell. The only draw back is that the reef break brings in a light but steady flow of sea grass bits and plant parts floating on top of the crystal clear water.

Hideko ran some errands in town and I did my duty, reading in the bow hammock. Swinging in the breeze and looking out over the blue water with one foot dragging in the current, I had to pinch myself a few times.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Star Trek Marathon
Randy
09/08/2007, Clifton Harbor

Star Trek Marathon. Nuf said. The Original Series is in the bag and we are charging forward in to the movies. Every once in a while I look out the window and think how much I love the fact that we live here. I can watch Star Trek without feeling like I need to run outside and jump in the ocean because we're always on the ocean, every day as beautiful as the last.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Recoup
Randy
09/07/2007, Union Island

We love entertaining friends. I think Hideko and I would be great at running a charter yacht. The only problem would be that if it was our boat, we'd toss the average charter client overboard in the first five minutes.

We had a great time with our friends aboard. Having guests sort of drives you to do fun stuff. There's nothing better than sharing great experiences and places with friends. Also when friends are aboard you sort of put all of the projects and chores on the back burner.

So back to the front burner. Today was boat clean up day.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Goodbye
Randy
09/06/2007, Union Island

All too soon it was time for Razmig and Atsuko to get back to LA. We dinghied ashore for breakfast at Bougainvillea before they caught their flight. Bougainvillea is a tourist hangout which means that the prices are high by island standards. They do a nice job of it though and served great fruit, all you can drink coffee and juice, all you can eat toast and jam, as well as the standard bacon and eggs. We've been getting a great lunch for $5US so you still feel robbed when you pay $25.

Razmig and I stopped by the airport to clear them off of the boat papers and onto their flight on the way to breakfast. The best round trip deals to the southern Caribbean always seem to be through Barbados. It worked out well this time because you can get to Barbados from everywhere. Razmig and Atsuko hopped over to Grenada from Barbados and back from Union. The inter island flights can be pricey, however.

We sadly saw Razmig and Atsuko off at the airport. The guy at the desk let us just walk right through security with them. I don't even think the metal detector was working. We waved as long as we could see their plane.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Tobago Cays
Randy
09/05/2007, Tobago Cays

This was Atsuko and Razmig's last day with us and we had saved the best. Everyone was up early so we weighed anchor and headed out to the Tobago Cays. We were anchored in front of Jamesby, the southernmost of the four main islands, by 9:30. The Tobago Cays are simply idyllic. When you think of inviting water and beautiful deserted islands, this is what you see.

It can get crowded here but the park was blissfully empty. Our early arrival had something to do with it but it was also part of our payback for skipping around the storms during hurricane season.

Everyone enjoyed snorkeling and exploring Jamesby. Somehow I ended up scrubbing the waterline for a bit. When I climbed back aboard I was rewarded by fresh pizza. Hideko had made pizza dough from scratch and whipped up some fantastic za.

In the afternoon we moved over to Baradel (a whopping quarter mile away). There's a turtle sanctuary marked by a buoyed line around the south side of the island. There are turtles galore here. Everyone had a great snorkel with the turtles and it was hard to keep track of how many we all saw. Many of the local folks in the Caribbean eat sea turtles and they are typically a bit shy when it comes to humans in the water. They are protected in the park however and seem to know it, more or less ignoring the large mammals with bright colored fins careening about.

The sun was getting low in the sky and I had never sailed out the south exit of the reefs surrounding the Cays. We piled everyone back aboard and made our way slowly out through the reef. Hideko was on the bow but with the sun only 20 degrees or so above the horizon it was just about impossible to read the water. Our charts had proven very accurate in this area and I had some bearings to work with from the cruising guide so it wasn't too hairy.

We anchored off of Palm Island to give Atsuko and Razmig one last amazing beach to play on. No one ended up going ashore but Hideko and Razmig went for a snorkel. They were generally nonplused (I don't think they went all the way around to the north where the amazing reef is). Right as they were about to return they sighted a huge Spotted Eagle Ray making the effort worth while.

We cooked up our now famous (to us anyway) Steak Frites, complete with Béarnaise sauce, and enjoyed our last night together in the Grenadines.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

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