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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Chili Cook Off
10/02/2007, Martin's Marina

We have parted ways with our friends Fred and Cindy on Kelp Fiction II several times now. They left Lauderdale Marine Center before we did and it took us months to catch up with them in the British Virgin Islands. We spent lots of time together in the BVI and traveled from the BVI to Martinique together. Then we had to press ahead to meet some other friends in Saint Lucia. We caught back up with KFII at Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia and traveled to Grenada together but split up three times due to different routes and friends visiting. Now they are heading to California for a month and we are going on to Tobago. It is fairly likely we will not see them for a very long time.

A going away dinner seemed in order, especially since they didn't have any food left after cleaning their boat out for its month of storage. We invited Tami and Jay from Blue Star, which just about includes everyone living on the dock here in Martin's Marina. Hideko and I did a mega shopping trip to the Grand Anse Mall where the IGA is. We returned to Swingin' on a Star loaded down then spent the rest of the day giving the boat a good cleaning.

I love to cook and I'm decent at it. Hideko is a great cook and cooks for us almost every day. I tend to cook the large meals when we have company. Hideko and I would really love to go to a Cordon Blue school, or something similar, and get some real polish though. In the mean time I try to come up with interesting things for the menu when we have guest over.

We had a nice meal with the crew and spent a great last few hours together. Here's the menu we printed for the table:

Swingin' on a Star
Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Guest List
• Cindy
• Frederick "Ricky-Baby"
• Tami
• Jay
• Hideko
• Randy

• Sweet and Savory Chicken Tostadas with a Cinnamon Whisky Cream Sauce
• 2002 Babcock Pinot Noir, Tall and Sassy Californian

• Green Salad in a Watermelon Vinaigrette
• 2004 Mendoza Malena, Argentina Red

Main Course
• Texas Firehouse Chili, garnished with shredded cheese, fresh red onion, sour cream and vine ripened tomatoes
• Tart Apples in a Lime Cr่me Fresh
• Garlic Toast
• 2005 Barton & Guestier Cuv้e Sp้ciale, French Table Wine

• Three layer Blueberry Cooler (Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Blue Berries, and Sweet Vanilla Cream with shaved chocolate on top served in a wine glass)
• 2003 Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir

10/17/2007 | Pablo Ramos
Mmmmmm!!! Chili! Wine! Chili, bread, chili, sour cream and more chili. So for thanksgiving Lou and I are taking Lou's mom to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving and play bingo. Should be much slower than the usual Texas hold em'. Gonna try and get a game in. We are Hititng the T.I. for Chicken Mole. Oh and for Thanksgiving we are having all you can eat SUSHI! It's a cool little place lilly and Jason found, I'll send you the info so the next time you hit Vegas or anyother of your sailing buddies want to check it out you can recommend it. Awwww MAN!!!! CHILI!!!
10/17/2007 | Randy
Sushi is always welcome here. We only get good sushi when we catch it...
09/20/2007, Saint Georges

We decided to ship few final things to the boat before taking off to Tobago next week. Our mail forwarding service has been shipping us things FedEx and it only takes two days to get here from the US. Not bad. I have now discovered that you can actually clear things through customs in about an hour yourself, if you know what you're doing, which I did not until today.

My first stop was a the FedEx office in Saint Georges with my FedEx delivery notice. It was worth a try, right? Perhaps not, but I needed them to berate my attempt just long enough to discover what paperwork I was missing. They obliged and informed me that I needed to get a provisional release from customs. Provisional, hmmm. I didn't like the sound of that but I dutifully marched down the Carenage in the blazing sun to the shipping port to see customs. After bouncing around the customs building a bit I finally wound up in an office with the right officer.

"You don't have a proper invoice", he said. I was unruffled. This is what they always say, no matter how complete your invoice is. The invoice read, "Computer Software: $400", "DVDs: $75", or something similar. I asked what the problem was. He said, "what is computer software?" This did ruffle me. "Programs for a computer?", I offered. "Yes but is it a CD?", he demanded. "uh, why yes", I responded with no real idea as to whether it was a CD or DVD, but fairly certain that it did not matter. "Ok that's what I need to know", he replied. "How many DVDs?", was the next shot across the bow. "Uh, 75 divide by 20, approximately 4", I responded, trying to maintain a tone of respect. The dialog continued for a few more rounds. Once it had been made entirely clear how inadequate my invoice was he set about preparing the sheet of paper I needed. The expected break to chat with any of his friends who might be walking by included I was in there probably a mere twenty minutes.

I emerged from the customs office and, after shooing off the ravenous customs brokers lurking about the dock (who will charge you $50 US for this process), I made my way back around to the other side of the port where the FedEx office sits facing the waterfront. "Hi, here's my delivery notice and the customs form you asked for", I said with an upbeat air. "Where's your permit to import ship's stores?", came the retort. "What is that?", I said meekly with a down beat air. "You need it to get the special yacht-in-transit duty reduction", said the lady in a what-kind-of-idiot-are-you tone.

Perhaps I'll just pay the extra, I thought. "What would it cost to get the package as is?", I ventured? "Oh, you'd like to know, wouldn't you? Well, sure enough I'm going to tell you then." This all in a fairly curt manner with rising exasperation. "Four million, seven hundred and thirty five dollars EC", she said. Not really but it was something like three hundred US for a box of stuff worth maybe five hundred. "I'll just get the permit then, why don't I?".

In my head I said, "why didn't you tell me that I needed a permit the last time?" No, better not go public with that one until after I have the package. Instead I queried, "is this the last document I will need to collect my package?". A hasty yes was offered as the lady disappeared into the back room. I had to subpoena another employee to find out where I get such and article. The customs office you cleared in at, was the response. Lucky for me I cleared in at the Grenada Yacht Club this time around, only a little farther than the port customs office. Somewhere on the south shore would have required a taxi and probably another day.

The quest continued. I hiked around the Carenage, up over the hill between the Carenage and the Lagoon and down to the yacht club. I was terribly fortunate not to have run across any of these facilities during a holiday, after hours or on a lunch break. The customs guy at the yacht club was watching a James Bond flick on the laptop and was fairly put out that I should interrupt him with business. All the same he gave me the form to fill out and upon my return signed and stamped it a few times and went back to his movie.

Back out into the blazing sun, this time armed with a Coca Cola, I marched back to the FedEx office. Assured of my just cause and righteous array of paperwork, I yet maintained an even disposition to avoid engendering yet another form requirement. I neutrally presented my paperwork, all of which had thus far been acquired at no cost, and waited. I had to print and sign in a huge ledger in the back and pay $40US, was offered a banana (a prize for perseverance?), and sent upon my way.

As I walked down the street I reflected upon the day; delivery notice [you get from your marina or use Island Water World], customs clearance [from the port], permit to import ship's stores [from the customs office you cleared in at], package pickup [at FedEx], at about 15 minutes each if you know what you're doing. It dawned on me that not one person ever required a single piece of ID or legal documentation (other than those I acquired that afternoon without showing ID or legal documentation). The only thing I had on me at the start of the day to prove I deserved this package was the failed delivery notice from FedEx. Anyway, it's nice to have some new movies to watch.

09/24/2007 | Pablo Ramos
Man... Had I seen that guy watching a bBond flick while on duty, I would have busted out with a spoiler comment and told how it end in the most innocent mannor known to me.
10/04/2007 | Rosario
I went through the exact same thing when we were there. I had several shipments of gear sent preparing for the crossing, and each one was a different adventure of pure chaos. In other words, I feel your pain 100%!

Hope all is going well. Someday we'll bump into you again. All our best, David and Tni
10/15/2007 | Randy
Pabs: You would never get anything through customs, remind me to leave you on the boat when getting mail...

David: Great to hear from you! Hideko and I follow your travels. It will be a couple years before we make it to Europe but your blog is a guiding light for us. If you're not going to the South Pac you should come join us for a while.
Leaving the Lagoon
09/19/2007, Saint Georges

After wrapping up some heavy internet usage on the boat we prepped for departure. The lagoon is the only place around Grenada that we have found good internet access while aboard (and free at that). Prickly Bay has service but it is a little tough to lock in on the boat. Others have been down when we tried them. I'm sure things are a bit more functional during high season.

The wind was gusting a bit in the lagoon but generally 10-15 from the east. We were getting a late start at 16:00. We could have sailed south down Grenada to the point but it isn't much more than 2 miles and once around the point you are dead into the wind and also getting the pleasure of a one to two current setting directly against you along with the cape effect cranking the wind up 5 or so knots.

So off we went on a short motor. We headed south along the coast trying to make the shortest path to the point. Long Point Shoal is charted at 5 feet so I suppose we could sail right over it but I just get the heebee jeebees going over anything less than 10 feet at more than a crawl. We cut it close enough that the 10 foot depth alarm went off but left the really shallow stuff to port.

We made good time to the point averaging around 9 knots. As soon as we cleared the point it piped up to about 25 knots and got choppy. Most of the water you traverse on the inside when heading to Mount Hartman Bay is less than 30 feet. This doesn't help the chop any.

This was my first time entering Mount Hartman Bay using the western most entrance. Having been through in the other direction twice, both tracks still visible on the plotter, I felt pretty good about following my nose in. The pier and Tara Island are my main above water visual marks, but the water color is important as well. If you have good light it is a pretty easy channel to find. Like all of the narrow southern entrances here in Grenada you have to really watch the current, which viscously attempts to set you upon the leeward reef.

Upon later examination, my third track followed a course quite a bit to the east of the two exits on file. This is probably partially attributed to paranoia but also to the strong current. I had a COG and heading about 45 degrees apart for a bit.

We arrived at the dock and it was like we never left. Kelp Fiction, Blue Star, Odyssey and Monaco were all still there, along with the standard uninhabited boats.

Fred and Cindy helped us back onto the dock. The wind was blowing us straight off of the dock at about 15 knots and it took me a couple of tries to get her in tight enough, bow and stern, to tie up. We bid all of our friends a fond hello and began prepping for our departure from Grenada.

09/18/2007, Gand Anse Beach

Hideko and I celebrated our two year anniversary today by walking the length of Grand Anse beach and testing out all of the beach chairs we could find.

09/24/2007 | Pablo Ramos
Happy Anni you two bannanis
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.


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