11/18/2012, Anse Mitan, Martinique
Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent
Since leaving St. George's, the main port of Grenada, one word comes to mind.
The Caribbean has a reputation of being filled with charter boats, nice beaches, cheap rum, blue water, steady trades and zero culture. Could be true, but there are options.
We spent the first night out in a totally secluded bay on the North end of Granada, no other boats, sandy beach, 20 feet of blue water with little fish swimming about. Night two we anchored off the Island of Petit St. Vincent. This is the home of a hotel for the rich and famous - we took the dink in to check it out and got offered to partake in their Sunday Barbeque Chicken fiesta......price US $ 120 a head + drinks and tips. We ate hot dogs on the boat.
Next stop, Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent. Outside the Bay we were met by 'Josoph the Rastaman', who escorted us into the bay and had us drop our anchor 200 feet off the beach. His nephew, who was on a beat up surf board took our line and tied it to a tree so we faced into the swell - that cost $ 3 US for the service. These folks all looked like something out of a bad movie, but were pretty nice. Living in shacks on the beach, they appeared to make their living tying boats (3 of us) onto trees and selling wilted lettuce. Judy bought 6 bananas and some greens from some guy on another 'lost' windsurfer. He did throw in some nice shells for free. The next morning at 6 AM when we were trying to leave in a torrential down poor, they wanted another 2 bucks to untie us......... Judy would have none of it. She negotiated successfully with an old man who could hardly walk. We will pay him next time we go back.
Then Rodney Bay, complete with fancy hotels, wind surfers, jet ski's, parasailing and glass bottom boats............very different.
Next Martinique and the yachting center of La Marin, including a huge marina, 100 boats anchored out, 3 fabulous supermarkets, inexpensive duck pate, French cheese, boxed Bordeaux wine and perfect espresso with fresh croissant's.............
Our favorite was probably St. Pierre on the North end of Martinique, where we anchored close enough to the town pier to be able to row in. This town was the cultural and commercial center of the French islands at the turn of the last century. More than 30,000 people lived in what was described as " Little Paris", enjoying the wealth of the sugar and rum trade with Europe and the US. They were 4 miles from the Volcano of Mt. Pelee, that rumbled for weeks in the spring of 1902. Officials reassured the population that nothing bad would happen (because that would be bad for business). Reminds me of the 'fiscal cliff' rhetoric of present times! Anyway, one early morning the whole thing exploded with a tremendous energy burst greater than the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, destroying the entire city and killing more than 29,000 people in the worst volcanic disaster of the Century. Now there are 5,000 souls living there, and it is the most delightful little city, complete with communal seine fishing off the beach, a wonderful Saturday morning market with all the wife's selling stuff while their husbands (and us) were sitting shooting the breeze in a café over an 11 am beer. The husbands had to go pack up the tables after market was over; we just had to go take a swim off the transom!
We were going to leave this week-end for Guadalupe, but true to form, the French folks here close down all kinds of things so they can have a relaxed long week-end. Since we could not get a check out clearance in St. Pierre on a Saturday we backtracked to Fort de France only to find out that you really can't leave France on anything but a Monday - Friday 09:00 - 15:00............maybe tomorrow we will leave?
One more note - all the upwind sailing we did last year is paying off nicely. We have been doing day runs of 20 - 50 NM, have a blade jib and typically a full main up, and are reaching along at 6 - 8 knots most of the time..........nice!
Mary and Peter at Two Harbors
Mary of NEKO sent us a little clip from our delivery to LA in September.
Thought someone might enjoy it.......
11/08/2012, Grenada, Concord Falls
Judy jumping to the safety of Galvins arms
For our final outing before leaving Grenada for Carriacou we figured we would take full advantage of having a rental car until 10Am. So we got out of bed by 5:30, grabbed a quick bowl of cereal and off we went to check out the Concord waterfall's. Judy actually wanted to go the Spice Garden to see all the different spices grown in the Island, but I convinced her they would not be open at 6:30 in the morning. Also, what is better than an early morning hike through the rain forest looking for natural spices along the way!
Smartly we were wearing sensible footwear for a change - I got my foot immersed in mud up to my ankle just as I was getting out of the car. Anyway, up we went on what the tour book described as a 30 minute hike to the upper falls - they must not have updated the info since hurricane Ivan took out all the bridges 10 years ago. After we had crossed the river 6 times wading through waist high water, the 'trail' was getting a little harder to identify, and we convinced ourselves after an hour that we must have taken some wrong turn. Abandon mission, and cross back across the river 5 times before we ran into a gentle giant farmer, Galvin. He rented a plot up in the forest where he, his mother and uncle farmed vegetables, spices and fruits. He knew the easy way to the waterfall and agreed to guide us there for 10 Bucks'
So we crossed back through the same 5 river crossings we just completed twice, this time with a little more speed. Judy - who previously had whimpered that she would probably fall down and kill herself crossing - now was jumping from rock to rock, each time being caught in Galvins strong arms. I still had to do the wading.
As it turned out, we had been on the right trail, and just another 20 minutes above the spot we had turned around we climbed into the pool at the fall, covered in mosquitos. On the way down I only fell twice, Judy once. Her fall was better than mine. She was just standing there trying to catch her breath, then fell over like a clown in a circus. Oh, and we did see a bunch of spices and plants identified by Galvin who was a real nature lover. And we got the car back to the rental agency just a few hours late after our '30 minute nature walk'
We had a nice sail 30 Miles across to Carriacou, our next stop.
11/06/2012, St. Georges Bay, Grenada
The bottling department at Royal Grenada Rum Factory
You're not going to believe this, I mean, I barely believed it myself. But when we left Charlottesville Tobago in the early morning, heading Northwest in a South Easterner for Grenada (where we were going to get our gear shifter fixed,) we clicked on the auto pilot, and guess what happened? ADSOLUTELY NOTHING! Ok, add it to the list. We hand steered the 70 long miles to Grenada Marine. They took good care of us. Installed a new shifter. I added another coat of varnish, and Torben trouble shooted the auto pilot.
He had the whole thing apart. By this time, he really knows his way around this system. Consulted our Auto pilot Guru, Paul aboard SV Georgia via email, put the thing back together claiming he couldn't fix it. He turned it on for the heck of it and OMG it worked!
Currently we are anchored in St. George's Bay which is the largest city in Grenada. It has a two part harbor, one formed by a volcano. There is a lot of history here. The US came over in 1983 to restore civil unrest, after the execution of the Socialistic President and his cabinet. The people here are very friendly. They especially love Americans and seem up on our current politics. They are hoping Romney wins!
Torben and are recuperating from a day of playing tourist. We rented a jeep and headed out this morning to explore the island. We found ourselves at the Belmont Estate which back in the seventeen hundreds, was a sugar plantation but now operates as a coco bean plantation.
Our last stop of the day was River Antoine Estate. Where they produce "Rivers Royale Grenadian Rum". But first before getting there Torben had to take out a couple school boys, backpacks by passing too close as they walked along the side of the road.
The distillery was....interesting. Produced white rum that was only 74% alcohol! I have rubbing alcohol that I use before I varnish that's only 70%! You've got to go to the picture gallery and see the photo's we have posted. A picture's worth a thousand words! I dare say I did not have rum in my evening cocktail! As a matter of fact, I may never drink rum again! The distillery took pride in making rum the old fashion way. Pure and simple moonshine. I wondered to myself if the spiders that found their way into the bottles would have the same effect as the worm in a bottle of tequila.
The bottling process was performed manually by pouring into bottles from a large yellow igloo cooler like the kind you would fill with lemonade and take to the ballpark for the kids. There were four kinds of rum. 74% alcohol, 61% (so that you could take some back with you on the plane.) and two kinds of rum punches for the ladies, she said. Oh, and they only made white rum because ageing it would take too long. As a matter of fact, from the time the sugar cane gets pressed to the time the rum gets bottled, is six to eight days! The 74% rum is the most popular rum sold to the local people on Grenada.
I nominated Torben as the Ginny pig. Now, I've seen him put down some pretty interesting alcohol from his homeland. Ones that would peel Tivoli's bottom paint right off her. But when he took a shot of this "Royale Grenadian Rum" his eyes got real wide and immediately began to water. I thought they were going to pop right out of his head. I couldn't take my eyes off of him! If it was going to happen, I didn't want to miss it! Then a low guttural sound began to rattle somewhere in the back of his throat followed by a hissing sound. Try as he might he could no longer stifle the cough and spray of rum that eventually followed. Once he found his voice he turned to me and said," Damn spider!" That was enough testimony for me. Needless to say, I passed on the tasting and purchasing of this fine rum!
Tobago definitely has a different feel than its sister island of Trinidad.
First of all, we came from a very industrial mega boatyard area, we are now back to beach landings in the dinghy; this has got to one of the few islands left in the Caribbean without a dinghy dock. Second, the folks that live here seem VERY laid back and friendly, No problem mon.
We spend 2 nights working our way up the N. side of Trinidad being the lone boat in both anchorages . We managed to trade 4 beers and 4 packs of peanuts for a nice fish with some local fishermen. We had a fabulous sail across to Store Bay where we have now been for 4 (or 5?) days, alternating between swimming, varnishing, servicing winches, and doing other cleanup chores after 3 months on the hard.
While having a drink at Crown Beach Hotel's bar to get their internet password (so we can poach on connectivity in the anchorage) we ran into bartender Dale, who told us he doubled down as a taxi driver after hours. Perfect, as this was Sunday when lots of folks show up for 'Sunday School' starting at 9 PM and lingering in to the morning hours at some beach village some miles away. So we got to listen to a steel band and some extremely loud DJ music. Dale had been talking about his Russian wife, who was going to be at Sunday School preparing a favorite meal of 'Shark Bacon', which we were pretty sure would be close to a shark bacon burger if such a thing exists....actually, Judy would probably not have gone to the party if it was not to taste this delicacy. As it turned out we still loved the shark Bake, which is a coconut bread sandwich with grilled shark in spicy mayo!
The drive back to the beach at midnight was memorable, as Dale at this point must have smoked something other than a cigarette.........we should have known when we got into the car, as his seat was in the 'max recline' position! Nothing like a guided tour at midnight complete with facts about the Island we are visiting. Quote: I be like this island because there are 11 women for every man here! Romney and Obama should come here for final campaigning.
Tomorrow we will continue up island to Charlottesville before heading towards Granada in a week or so. We are perfecting new techniques for anchoring as we busted the gear cable and subsequently the bracket that holds it in place trying to fix it. So now, Judy is on deck driving the boat. I am in the engine compartment with a wrench. She will call down engine commands via our Machine telegraph - 2 empty coke bottles connected by a string. "Forward 1/3" "Stand BY" "Reverse ½" "Stand By" ..........."Come up to set anchor" The fun goes on!
10/16/2012, Powerboats, Trinidad
Last year it took us 11 days at the dock in El Salvador to get ready, this year we made it 8, and we could probably have been even faster if we had not dragged in the heat the first couple of days.
But now we are ready for new adventures, have checked out of Port of Spain for Tobago and will leave first thing Wednesday morning.
Tivoli at the dock at Powerboats after 3 PM - that is when the rain starts for the afternoon!
We think we have everything working, fixed some troublesome lights, got our outboard running smoothly, engine serviced, Autopilot pump relocated and bled, boat polished and painted.....and as brand new members of 'Price Smart', the local Costco, we are taking full advantage af the new raised waterline!
The weather has been pretty muggy, so we are looking forward to get out of the harbor. We did have a little 'fun action' a couple of days ago from the tropical depression that passed several 100 Miles North of us - it kicked up some very interesting wave action in the slip, and we got pretty busy putting out additional lines - several boats got up close and personal with each other or the docks, but we got lucky and escaped without a scratch.