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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
The Bus
09/17/2007, Grand Anse

Today we took a public bus, our first in Grenada. We were headed to Grand Anse to meet up with Kelp Fiction and Blue Star for sushi. The busses are actually just Vans with lots of bench seats. I have wanted to ride the bus because I wanted to see how the Grenadians live everyday life, not to mention the fact that the bus is way cheaper than a taxi (about $1US per person). I've also been missing riding roller coasters and the way the bus drivers drive makes you feel like you're on the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney World. The bus doesn't come to Martin's Marina where we were staying previously but in Saint Georges and Grand Anse, taking the bus is easier and faster than catching a cab.

We left the dingy at the Grenada Yacht Club and asked a lady at the bar where we could catch the bus. She told me to just cross the street and stand there. OK. They do have bus stops, but usually you can just hail them and they will stop for you.

Just as we reached the street we heard, "BEEE BEEE BEEE", and a sparkling burgundy painted van with shiny wheels showed up. It sounded like the Road Runner and moved at about the same speed, we wondered if they would stop before they hit us. A guy opened the door and ushered us in. Each bus has a crew of two, the driver and the guy who sits right next to the door, handling the opening and closing of the door and collecting the money. Coming from a fairly conservative country I would never imagine a van with pumped up shiny wheels and extra fancy eye catching paint to be a public bus. In the bus they cranked Dance Hall or Soca even when young children and old folks fill up the seats. I enjoyed seeing almost all the passengers grooving with the music. An old lady next to me was humming along to a song, and shortly, I was humming the song with her.

I was looking around for a stop buzzer but there were none to be found. It is not a huge van so I was going to yoo-hoo when it came to our get off spot. Then an old man sitting in front of us raised his hand and knocked on the side. Immediately the man who was sitting next to the exit knocked on the ceiling to let the driver know that someone wanted to get off.

Now with the "get off" trick in hand we managed to exit at the proper location and avoided ending up in the wrong prefecture. Our first ride on the bus in Grenada was a success. The experience reminded me of riding a public bus by myself when I was little and also riding a bus in San Francisco when I first came to America and didn't speak fluent English. It makes you sort of nervous trying not to look like a rookie when you don't know the system.

A quiet evening at Port Louis
09/16/2007, Saint Georges

Hideko, Roq and I had a nice quiet evening at Port Louis Marina. It is not yet really a marina, though they say they'll be complete by the end of the year. I think that's bold. Even so they make a great burger and the Lagoon side restaurant and bar is very nice.

Our waitress was a charming young lady who wanted to work aboard a yacht and see the world. She was also pursuing the exams for the police department. Maybe yacht security? She was a lot of fun and we had a nice chat.

The Lagoon
09/15/2007, Saint Georges

We grabbed lunch at the Grenada Yacht Club today, a favorite hang out of the wintering cruisers. Beers are $3 and lunch is $25 (EC of course [$10US=$26EC]). We ordered Lasagna and they were out of tomato sauce so they put Callaloo soup on top. Interesting and assertive. I think I liked it. The GYC has a great sailing program for kids and we watched the kids graduate while we ate lunch.

The Lagoon has been flat and calm today. Very peaceful. We both worked on the Internet for hours. It is amazing how much stuff piles up when you're out in the hinterlands. A certain amount of gratuitous browsing included of course.

Morning Rain
09/14/2007, Petite Martinique

We had decided to head back down to Grenada to wrap up some final preparations before offing to Tobago. Tobago is supposedly out of the way and short on services. Just the way we like it. That said, it is always nice to stock up and take care of any Internet business before heading out to the boon docks.

We took a quick harbor tour of Petite Martinique on our way. PM is supposedly the wealthiest Caribbean island per capita. It seems like a very nice place with a nice harbor town and a large anchorage.

As we motored out of the anchorage and around the tip of Cariacou things started looking gloomy. If you're in the middle of the ocean and the clouds roll in, you reef down and sit it out in the saloon. If you are inshore and viz goes to 0 it is a bit more dramatic.

Hideko and I decided to anchor up quickly to let the weather go by. We found a little cove called Sparrow Bay and made our way in. Hideko lost the Rock/Paper/Scissors match and was up on the bow getting the anchor out just as it started to drizzle. We were set just as the little squall started to hit and it began gusting over 20 from the southwest. This was blowing us a little too far into the shallows for my comfort. It was fine really but from the dry comfort of the cockpit I shouted to Hideko that we needed to reanchor. It was really pouring now. Hideko gave me a look. I quickly revised my prior announcement, "or we can just stay here...".

There we stayed. We did drift into some 6 foot water but things quickly came east again and the rain settled down after a short white out and an hour or so of drizzle.

We had a wonderful sail down to Grenada and didn't have to kick in the motors until the wind dropped to about 3 knots from everywhere just above Saint Georges. We motored into the lagoon about an hour before sunset.

The lagoon is usually calm, and therefore hot. Like most mountainous harbors, however, the wind can pile up and dump down all at once. From time to time things get gusty. This is bad news for folks with insufficient ground tackle or for those who have not set their anchors or for those who have been in there for a month and have turned around their hook so many times that they are hopelessly fouled.

The bottom is also nasty mud. If you get set well it can be great holding. Mud isn't as easy to set in as sand though and you certainly don't want to dive on you anchor in here (not that you could see it if you did).

There's a shoal area marked on the charts just on the starboard side as you enter the lagoon. There's actually a lot of water here (20 feet in most areas) and it is usually open. We decided to anchor up there even though the lagoon was not too crowded. The first attempt was a bust. The anchor held as we worked the throttles up to about 1,600 and then we started to slip. If I can sit still for a minute at 2,000 rmps I know I am going no where in anything less than a serious storm. At 1,600 rpms we'd probably be fine in the lagoon, but I don't sleep well on probably.

We hauled the anchor up and prepped to reset it a bit to one side of the spot that didn't hold. This was actually the first time I can recall that the Rocna did not hook up on the very first attempt. I suppose I could have babied it down into the mud a bit more. We took it extra slow on the second go. I let the wind blow us down, then to idle reverse, then slowly up by 200s to 2,000 rpm. No problems.

The lagoon is great in many ways. We get Wifi Internet access right on the boat, thanks to Island Water World. Food, shops and supplies are close by. By 10PM I had also realized that it was Friday night. We slept fitfully until about 3AM when the blasting subwoofers finally stopped rattling our hatches.

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

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