Ciao a tutti!
So, we're still stuck in the West Indies... alright, alright, go ahead and say it..."Stuck
in the West Indies? Really? That must be awful
...". Well, if, say, organized systems (and I don't mean as in the development stage of a hurricane with the same name), functional processes, clear-cut rules and regulations, up-to-date information and well-cared for civic structures are your thing, then it can be pretty awful. Otherwise I see your point: how can you feel "stuck" in a place whose best features include ocean blue, beaches white, sugar and spice (nutmeg and cinnamon in particular) and everything that's nice (local chocolate is excellent)? So, irony accepted. As a little reminder, being "stuck" here simply means we're waiting out hurricane season (for obvious safety reasons and our insurance won't cover losses from a named storm north of 12° 40', if you're even in a condition to claim them at that point, that is...) and we are limiting our sailing movements as we monitor the Covid 19 traveling rules
for the islands (and the world, really), which are always... in continuous development.
So for the last couple of weeks and more (my apologies for the vagueness, but the need to keep accurate track of time seems to fade to the background on occasions; partly it's age, partly the location), we've been at a mooring off Sandy Island, off the west coast of Carriacou. We sailed here from Grenada, where we spent most of August hopping between our familiar hoods and were waiting for a new freezer install to be completed, including adding a second plate which has made a huge difference in its performance (it took several sessions of refrigerant injections to "get it going", think mad seasoned celebrity wanting more and more cosmetic fillers - but what eventually did the trick was tweaking the expansion valve...don't fall asleep, there will be a quiz at the end). It's been working great, knock on wood, and we've been able to stash meat, fish and bread no problem. Most important, we've been able to going back to make iced - rather than room temperature - caffè freddo
in the afternoon!! You gotta focus on your priorities!
Once in Carriacou, we spent a night in busy Tyrell Bay (which, in charming Caribbean fashion, is spelled differently depending on what sign or building you're looking at). There were many boats at the moorings, we're guessing some out of quarantine from Saint George's, Grenada, and others doing quarantine in the area of the bay thick with mangroves. Tyrell is nice but the presence of commercial docks, a main road not far from the water, end-of-the-road boats and a general sense of the...rusty, both literal and metaphorical, (not to mention a gasoline stain with its characteristic iridescence on the water surface that welcomed us after we laid anchor) casts a "Heart of Darkness" tinge to it all. We were outta there the morning after and came here.
We're not sure if we like Sandy Island yet, that's why we're still here 😉: a long and curvy sand-spit with lots of palm trees and surrounded by turquoise waters. Fish-feeding frenzies throughout the day (unfortunately I don't have a visual for this, so if you're not familiar with this type of event, here's an example in larger scale
)bring together birds of all kinds: pelicans, boobies, sooty terns whose white breast turns aqua color as they fly over the water and geometric frigade birds which look like flying origami... At times the feeding takes place around our boat so we get to see all the action up close, including the motions and sounds in the water as the fish jump in and out or sprint through it. And the birds flights are amazing - think Caribbean Hitchcock - including the "bomb diving" by the pelicans, which is particularly impressive... unless of course you happen to be the fish at the other end of the bomb dive...
Swimming and snorkeling have been excellent. The water is the clearest we've seen in a while and makes you want to spend hours in it. The Cap'n has even come up with the idea of sitting on a couple of our life jackets - our version of the popular foam noodles - for when you feel just like floating around. It's been ideal, especially during the extremely hot, zero-wind and ultra-flat calm days we've been seeing at times, partly a consequence of the various hurricanes and hurricane wannabes that can suck in all the wind for miles. Yesterday, one of such days, back from a quick errand into the town of Hillsborough - which had to be scheduled for early in the afternoon, when the last thing you want to do is to be on shore, we literally went from dinghy to boat to drop down our stuff to swimsuit to sitting in the water on the life-jackets for the next hour or so.
Snorkeling both at the reef off the island northern tip and also at the reef at nearby Jack Adan Island NE of us, we've seen many juveniles of different species, including butterfly fish, damsel fish, rock beauty...then a population of trumpet fish - some really big, more like trombone fish if you ask me - cowfish, trunk fish, sand divers... schools of bright blueheads and wrasses. A small wave breaking against the reef seen from under water created a cloud of vivid white, and against such background, schools of gobies looked like long ribbons draped around it.
There are many varieties of beautiful and sculptural coral heads, mostly in excellent conditions: no "bleaching" or other damage from warming waters... hopefully they won't have to see it. Talking about warm waters, one morning we swam our way to the reef through small patches of sargassum, and what was new to us is how much heat can be trapped in an area of water blanketed by this rather problematic type of algae
. One moment you're there thinking oh, what a nice and warm undercurrent I've just found, and the next you realize it's no undercurrent and this is what a spaghetti must feel like in boiling water! Can't be too good for the marine life...
A little more about marine life: an octopus lives inside one of the holes of the big concrete block to which our mooring is chained to (I've bashed Caribbean moorings many times in the past but these ones are checked regularly and seem to have a strong hold. We've been using moorings a little more frequently - when we trust their solidity, that is - because, especially after being still for some time, the anchor rode comes up be full of weed etc., and it's a bit of a pain having to clean it as it goes back into its locker. Although it would make good material for the tv show "Dirty Jobs"). I've seen it trying to pull a rather large and inhabited shell inside the hole and kept thinking maybe he was redecorating and that was its marine-themed coffee table?😂 I know, extreme heat can play tricks on your thinking patterns.
Also, during a very still night - an aftermath of hurricane n.5, not to be confused with the famous Chanel n.5, named Nana, who had dropped a big squall with thunder, lightning and all that jazz as a business card on her way to Belize - under a full moon and with the sea as serene as the corresponding Mare Tranquillitatis
on the lunar surface, the water was so clear that we could see the shadow of our mast sharply defined on the bottom (about 14 ft) and a little later, as we kept grokking the almost supernatural atmosphere, a school of stingrays swimming very close to each other emerged from seemingly out of nowhere, with silent and elegant movements. We discreetly pointed a flashlight at them for a better look, and it was like following a group of ballerinas with a light as they twirled and leaped on the stage.
Stargazing has been great. Scorpio and Sagittarius have been a predominant sight for most of August and, as September unfolds, Pegasus, Cassiopeia, Hercules and Cygnus (and Orion, for those earliest risers amongst us) make their entrance. But the fact is that in the right conditions (new moon and as little man-made light as possible, for instance) many other stars and celestial bodies are visible to the eye, together with the more well-known and beautiful constellations. And did I mention the shooting stars? I was actually impressed at how much and how sharply our boat binoculars can capture of the night sky, my only complaint is that they should also have a screen capture function.
To catch several glimpses of the Neowise comet
speeding away from the Earth while in Grenada in August was very special. We were able to see her both from Calivigny and Port Egmont, as she proceeded along her track at what looked like an...andante moderato
😊 pace, whereas she was actually traveling at a mean 40 miles per second! Her next stop in this part of the galaxy is gonna be in 6,800 years... it does make one think, doesn't it?
Recently we've been spending a little less time outside at sunset and after dark, as a brand of small and obnoxious mosquitoes comes out to party. Oh well, this too shall pass and we actually get some lovely "cutouts" of starry sky looking from our (screened) hatches.
. I'm gonna stop the blabla and put together some pictures in the Gallery for your visual amusement. Circumstances allowing (wi-fi, weather, etc) I will post another music video. In case you've missed it or you need a quick music fix, scroll down to the entry previous to this one and you'll find one.
Before I close, I'm going to share with you the current map of the National Hurricane Center
for the latest hurricane snapshot. Paulette is whacking Bermuda and Sally is cozying up in the Panhandle. Can you believe we've had already twenty between hurricanes, tropical storms and miscellaneous systems already, it's crazy! And peak season has just begun! Did you know that if they run out of the 21 names selected for the storms at the beginning of the season, letters of the Greek alphabet will be used instead? We better refresh our alpha beta gamma... and keep monitoring developments.
In the meantime, thanks for reading, for your fabulous comments (this website doesn't let us reply to them directly from the blog page, but we do read them!) and... καλίνιξα!😊🇬🇷