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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
09/13/2007, Petite Saint Vincent

Where does the time go? I can't believe that it is the middle of September. Time for us to start heading west. Hideko and I had been at Union island for a while but now that the wind was back below 20 knots we decided to start the next leg of our adventure. We will start at Tobago and work our way across the north side of South America.

There are a lot of security concerns on this part of the trip. Venezuela is a problem country and Colombia, while supposedly greatly improved, still has a questionable reputation. Unlike the small island nations we've been through recently these are very large chunks of turf. If you don't like Dominica, 4 hours later you're somewhere else. Not so Colombia and Venezuela.

Prior to taking off we ran through our departure check list (which is getting quite long). As we went through the list we discovered that both of our RuleMate 1100s in the engine rooms had failed. I have had terrible luck with these pumps. They just don't hold up to the basic requirements of bilge or sump duty. They are not cheap by my reckoning at two or three hundred a pop, yet they are cheaply made, no replaceable parts etceteras. I suppose if I was in the US I could just constantly return them to West Marine and install a new one free of charge every four to nine months. Unfortunately we're not in the US or anywhere else for more than a few days. I will definitely need to research the net for a really robust pump that I can hook up and forget. I mean after all it is a bilge pump. It should pump out ball caps, olive oil and soggy dog treats if that's what's in the bilge. Any bilge pump that you need to baby and check on regularly to ensure that it still works is not the kind of thing you want to rely on in an emergency.

After replacing one of the pumps (only had one spare) we set off for Petite Saint Vincent. I was looking forward to taking Hideko to the restaurant there. I have heard good things about the ambiance and the food. It was a short 2 mile sail from Union through lots of reef strew water. The charts are good so there are no problems as long as you keep a good eye out in fair weather. There are strange currents making their way around the underwater obstructions though and they switch right as you get close to danger so you have to stay alert.

Petite Saint Vincent is part of Saint Vincent and Petite Martinique is part of Grenada. Both are nestled into the reefed area just to windward of Cariacou. It is a beautiful area with lots of good spots to anchor. It can be quite rolly though.

PSV is a private island and operates as a resort for folks who want to really get away from it all. You can actually raise a flag at your bungalow for service and never leave the hut your entire time there. It looked like the resort was shut down for September, as so many places are (later discovered they are closed September and October). We hailed them on the VHF a few times but got no response. Instead we enjoyed the lovely view from our boat and had some nice home cooked pasta for dinner.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
09/17/2007 | pablo Ramos
I know I'm bad at spelling but when it comes to my second home country it is COLOMBIA amigo. Have a safe paseo going through las paises latinas.
09/17/2007 | Randy
opps. I actually did that on purpose to see if you were reading...
09/12/2007, Clifton

One thing I have discovered in my brief travels to the third world is that folks living on small islands with no real agriculture or farming capabilities eat everything around them. There is almost no fish, crustacean, invertebrate, reptile, amphibian or mammal, which they can catch, that they don't eat. From the stand point of the developed world, many endangered, threatened or politically incorrect species are harvested. You can't argue with subsistence, however.

Whaling is still in fashion here and folks go whaling in traditional open boats. Fortunately for the whales they are not as successful as the modern whaling fleets of the world. They must row in open boats! That said they do kill a few most years and there is a glory about it that seems to obscure the conservation issues.

Smooth Trunkfish, from the Box Fish family, are considered some of the best eating fish in this area. Most folks think of these guys as decorative reef fish. Parrot Fish, Squirrel Fish and Big Eyes also end up on the table often. In fact just about anything that ends up in the seine net or on a line will get pan fried in most places.

Some of the more endangered species are protected in various ways, usually through specific hunting seasons and size restrictions. Two of the area staples, Conch and Spiny Lobster, are harder and harder to find. Commercial conch farming seems to be making some progress but I have not heard of any lobster farms.

The human population continues to grow but it doesn't seem like the sea is keeping up. Not only are the numbers in the Caribbean increasing, but they are also supporting the fishing needs of countries that have nearly fished out their own waters. Large public works projects can be found throughout the islands with commemorative plaques thanking the Chinese and Japanese governments in particular.

As I walked down the road to clear out today I saw a group of local guys wheeling a cart toward me. I said hello and they asked if I wanted to buy something. I didn't understand what they had said but as I looked down at the cart I realized that I was looking at the bloody insides of a 3 foot diameter Green Sea Turtle Shell. They had bagged up most of the meat in zip locks and were inquiring as to whether I wanted to buy some. I politely declined.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Eagles Nest
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
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
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
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
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

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