Larry's Grenada Uproar Cruise
14 October 2017
Larry Fortress is my best friend from college, room mate, fraternity brother, little brother and craft beer drinking buddy. Now we can add shipmate to the list. Larry may be a dirt dweller but he adapted fine to life afloat. He even skippered Uproar over 10 miles of open ocean passage, north of Grenada.
“Hey, this is fun, handles like a sports car.” said Larry at the wheel. We normally press the “auto” button and Uproar steers herself but Larry wanted to make the passage like a real sailor. We sailed north of Grenada to Ronde Island, anchored for the night and sailed back. The guide book said about 20 people live on this island. Fortunately, two of them approached us with big lobsters for sale. They were at a good price and tasted even better.
We snorkeled at Ronde Island and the Grenada underwater statue park. We rounded the airport end of the island twice and caught a pair of Jacks each time. They provided more fish than we could eat but we did our best. Grenada Roti, Callalou and pumpkin were culinary delights Larry sampled for the first time, as well as a variety of fruits Cutty harvested on our island tour.
Cutty is a driver/tour guide that will show you and teach you as much about Grenada as possible in a single day. Lisa has had the tour 3 times and this tour was my second. The tour included swimming at a waterfall, sampling a bit of most foods that grow on the island, River Antoine Rum Distillery, nutmeg processing plant and vistas and beaches we never get tired of. We even caught up with a former Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas, in his driveway and had a 10 minute chat. His friendly dog was his only “secret service” agent. Tillman Thomas was imprisoned during the 1983 invasion and was liberated by US forces.
A big shock to us all is the River Rum Distillery. This plant has been in operation for hundreds of years and I would add without a maintenance shutdown! They still use the oldest waterwheel in the western hemisphere to crush cane, fed into the rollers by hand. Their pot stills would make a moonshiner green with envy, almost as green as the sugar cane sludge that is fermented and distilled in them. The end product has all of the character of the distillery. It couldn't be more rough and strong! We all took a sample and did not go back for seconds! They could care less, they sell every bottle they can produce right in Grenada.
Twice we found ourselves drawn to the Grenada Brewing Company. Craft beer is as rare as tender beef in the Caribbean! The GBC did not disappoint. They had live music and darts to keep us occupied. Felt like old times that Larry and I shared at his favorite haunts in Indy.
Weather was pretty good while Larry was with us but the anchorages were ridiculously rolly for 4 of the nights. Lisa and I did our best to find quiet spots but had some uncomfortable nights. It is seldom like this, Larry. But you put up with the Uproar dance just fine.
The last thing I heard from my fraternity bro Larry as his cab pulled away for the airport was, “Thank you sir, may I please have another?” Sure thing, Larry, you are welcome back aboard Uproar any time.
12 October 2017
Oh Dominica. This island is the most unexploited island in the Caribbean from what we've seen.
Between the tropical rain forest, waterfalls and trails, it is the most beautiful. We loved the time
we spent there. The islanders don't have much in terms of materials things. They don't need
things. They have a richness in their lives that can only be explained by the beauty that
surrounds them. Boudah is a tour guide we met on a couple of occasions. He is a botanist and
healer. He said if you go to bed hungry on Dominica you are stupid. There is always something
in season to eat. Growing on his property alone was, cocoa, coffee, soursop, papaya, pineapple
and many other things I don't even remember. The abundance was pretty spectacular.
The devastation caused by Harvey, then Irma and finally Marie in a single season to the
Caribbean was unprecedented in our lifetime. As each of these hurricanes spun through, there
was a distinct quietness in the cruising community as everyone was waiting to hear news of
people they knew. As Marie made its way through Dominica all I could think of was the
destruction it was bringing to the people and their island.
Dominica has to basically start over. From housing to farming, nothing was left undamaged.
Houses are in ruins and the crops have been wiped out.
As major governments were bringing aid to their own protectorates, a big concern for many was
Dominica. They don't have a protector. They broke from the in UK in the 70s and are completely
independent. It was heartening to see how many people were thinking along the same lines.
While Dominica doesn't have a big brother, they have many friends.
One such friend was the Flying Buzzard and the people who organized aid from the
communities on the islands of Grenada, St Lucia and Antigua. It's not government sponsored.
Mike and Jules on the Flying Buzzard offered the services of their boat and crew if the
communities could fill it they would deliver the aid. They've done just that and as of this writing
they are heading to back to Grenada to pick up another load which they will deliver. They've
also delivered Medics and native Dominicans who were struggling to get home to help their
I spent 3 days with the Buzzard loading the cargo holds. Met an amazing group of people. It
was a heart warming experience. We packed 30 tons of cargo onto the boat. They've delivered
that cargo and are coming back (after rounding up stores from St. Lucia and Antigua) to
Grenada for round 2. Uproar will heading north before they arrive back in Grenada, but we still
feel the need and want to help.
Thanks to many MAST (Milwaukee sailing group) friends we've collected close to $1,000 USD
to purchase materials needed in Dominica. The items will range from building materials to food
and cleaning supplies. We are planning to head to Portsmouth (the main town at the north end
of the island) and drop off supplies. The supplies will be for whoever needs them but we hope to
connect with Boudah and bring him some items he needs to rebuild his life for him and his
family. And so he can share the beauty of Dominica once again.
Uproar on the hard
04 September 2017
On the hard is pretty descriptive. Cruisers dread the time when their boat will be hauled and they have to live on it....OTH! That's why I chose the weeks Lisa is visiting friends and family in Wisconsin to go OTH with Uproar. Sophie and I did this last year when our bottom paint was being redone under warrantee. It was not all that bad. We were OTH for three days and back in the water. That paint also failed and we are OTH for a do-over, again under warrantee. This time Seahawk is supplying a different paint, shipped specially for Uproar. The problem is that we are spending our 5th night OTH tonight and the paint has yet to arrive!
On the water, there is always a breeze. We tend to anchor at least ¼ mile from shore to keep mosquitos away and this mostly works. We have had a few unwanted visitors who love me and leave Lisa alone. Ouch! OTH there is very little breeze and lots of bugs. They don't bother me during the day but at dusk come out to play! The choice is breeze or bugs. If I close the boat up at dusk, it is hotter than hell inside. If I leave the ports open it cools off but I get eaten alive which makes sleeping difficult. We are in day 6 and I think I have the solution. Mosquito Coils. They are supposed to last 12 hours and kill Mosquitos within 2 minutes. If I don't wake up tomorrow, I hope you have enjoyed this, my last blog!
Uproar has an 8 foot keel. To brace the hull on land, we need a 12 foot ladder just to reach the back platform. I have gone up and down that ladder countless times. Many of them carrying Sophie to do her business. Oh, and can't use the heads which flush overboard. There is a bathroom with one toilet for me and all the other guys here.
One of the attractions to the Carriacou Marine Yard is that they repair fishing boats here. These fishing boats are about 50 feet, made out of wood and lovingly repaired here. I watched a very skilled craftsman shape a plank with a hatchet. It was carved perfectly. The fishermen are very nice. They are friendly, especially when I break out some beer at quitting time! This place as all of Carriacou just feels right.
OK, I have been busy fixing some pressing issues like our steering pedestal. The bearings are totally shot and the gears even slipped during the Carriacou Regatta. We had to steer very carefully for the rest of the race series (and still won all).
This was a very messy job. Dis assembly involved removing all wiring to our chart plotter, steering linkage, wheel and the pedestal itself. To fix the pedestal I imported stainless steel ball bearings from the US which arrived just in time. The fix involves sawing the stainless steel shaft, whacking out the rusted bearings and re-assembling. Manny is a skilled welder and welded the shaft back after I did the assembly work. Putting the pedestal, wiring and nav system back together took another whole day. But it now works perfectly!
I could have rented an air conditioned room with cable TV for $36/night. But staying OTH on Uproar is kind of a Zen thing for me. We are bonding like never before. Maybe it is also proof that I'm a tough guy, not a snowflake. Hope those Chinese know how to make really toxic mosquito coils!
Uninvited Dinner Guest
26 August 2017
Devin and Liz from Moosetracks were joining us for a dinner of Duck Curry. Yes, we have found another way to enjoy the canned duck we get in the French islands. It must have smelled good as we had an uninvited dinner guest join us.
We are anchored next to Oyster Thief, a catamaran inhabited by Tim and his Chocolate Lab, Bertie. Bertie would be that dog who chases every car that drives by her yard except for the fact that she doesn't live in a yard. Instead, she barks at passing dinghies and dives in, trying to catch them! She is especially vocal if there is a dog riding the bow of the dinghy. There are a lot of dogs here in Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou so Bertie is busy!
Not to worry though, Oyster Thief has steps up the transoms right at water level. Bertie can easily climb back aboard and shake the water off.
We were finishing dinner and everything was quiet in the anchorage. We enjoyed a green flash at sunset and it was quite dark at 7:30. We heard scratching on our swim platform and Bertie sprang into our cockpit. What a shock! She was very friendly and pleased to join us. This is one time when our 60” wheel blocking the cockpit proved to be a blessing. Devin and I were able to grab Bertie before she bounded into our laps and shared the scraps on our plates. It took some effort to keep her at bay. We shoved her back onto the swim platform.
I wasn't comfortable with just pushing her back into the bay. What if she was lost and thought Uproar was her boat? I got her into the dinghy and we putted back to Oyster Thief. Bertie jumped back on her boat with a wag of her wet tail.
Today, Simon, Holly, Daisy (their 1 year old daughter) and Scrumpy (Jack Russell Terrior) stopped by. We made water for them because their tanks are fouled with mold and all were sick from drinking it. Scrumpy jumped aboard and made himself at home. He is a really sweet Jack. Good thing Sophie was sleeping below or she may have decided to teach Scrumpy a lesson.
It is good to have dog visitors....OK, at least the dry ones.
Cruising is serious social.
10 August 2017
Tuesday night we went to the Round House Restaurant with a group of 12 cruisers. Jo from Serenade, organized a bus to get us to this unique, high end restaurant on Carriacou.
Wednesday morning we did water aerobics via noodle with a dozen cruisers. When we got back to Uproar, Lisa had "errands" to run. She took Sophie for shore leave, got dinghy gas and visited six boats. She had to return items left on Uproar from racing and retrieve other bits we left on friend's boats. She also had to make arrangements for the Thursday night Potkje (South African iron pot stew Liz from Moosetracks was making on the beach).
I visited Gary on Mai Tai to discuss my solar panels and get a plug from him to replace one that broke during a squall (the panel blew off and I barely caught it. But the plug and wires were damaged). He hooked me up with a spare. We decided to exchange a can of French Duck for an English pot pie!
Afternoon brought us to the Slipway for 3 hours of Mexican Train dominos with 8 friends. I was the big loser, not my day. Lisa came in third.
We had popcorn (popped in duck fat!) for dinner and watched a dumb movie, can't even remember the name as I write.
OK, that's a day in the life of a cruiser. We hang out with a lot of friends and have real contact with them, not texting!
Back in Bequia for Bags
22 July 2017
“You know those bags we bought in Bequia? Let's stop there and get some more.”
Lisa and I were debating whether to sail from Martinique to Carriacou or stop in Bequia. We love Bequia but need to get Carriacou to get ready for Regatta and join the fitness friends there for noodle, water aerobics and beautiful, strenuous hikes. I also enjoy bike riding in Carriacou. Oh, our hurricane insurance is not in force north of Carriacou and we have been out of the “safe zone” for three weeks already.
But the slightest reason to return to Bequia had me eager to visit again. Sailing into the harbor sure reminded us of the great times we have had here. I snorkeled in the crystal clear water to check the anchor set and saw a few schools of fish observing me. It is good to be back.
We cleared customs, ate chicken at our local favorite restaurant. The owner recognized us and greeted us with a big smile and huge plates of chicken and local vegetables. Hairoun beer was on special, 3 for 10 EC. That's $1.20 each!
Our next stop was Alec sails. We received a warm welcome from Alec and Selma. Alec and John Dillon's boat, Eclipse had just won handily in the Petit St. Vincent regatta. They had a large trophy to show for it. Alec was pleased to hear about our Antigua Race week victory too. We will be joining the racers later this afternoon for a discussion about the upcoming Carriacou Regatta. We will be racing Uproar in the yacht regatta but there are also days of local boat races. I was invited again to crew on Eclipse but declined unless I am really needed. Last time I was just ballast and bailing. But I hope I am needed, it was a blast!
Back on the boat, we heard “Uproar” from the back of the boat. Bill from Overstreet invited us for cocktails and a beach barbecue on Sunday. Carriacou will have to wait. I'm glad there are no roads on the ocean and Uproar's rudder turns whatever way we wish.