Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Happy New Year from Martinique

Happy New Year 2018-01-03
The computer tells us it is the 3rd of January, and the internet tells us that we are in for even more rain, today and tomorrow, here in Ste Anne, Martinique.  The rainy season has been particularly rainy this season.  It is not so bad, as it rains in 20 minute squalls, then provides us with hot, humid sunshine for an hour or two.  Certainly we should not complain, as Hugh and others from Atlantic Canada explain that they are under threat of a winter hurricane up there tomorrow.  Likely, people will die!
News from home includes the trial of a neighbour of ours who attacked another neighbour.  We should not comment, but when the victim is still under medical care months later, and the aggressor is a head taller with a reputation for violence and insists he was not the aggressor, one must roll their eyes.
We arrived in Ste. Anne on December 7th, after a lovely 3 hour passage from Rodney Bay, but found the anchorage so crowded that we anchored about a kilometre from the main dock.  Good news is that there is a reasonable little dock just 3 minutes away that allows a sweet walk into town, a nice hike to a beach, and a Laundromat steps away.  The large mangrove estuary in which the Marin boat haven is situated is just another kilometre further, however, and the water is often a bit murky, especially on the falling tide.  Our chain looks like a long fuzzy, plush toy, with all the growth on it.  I (Laurie) get in to cool off and to bathe most days.
It is a massive anchorage that spreads a mile or more out along a relatively sheltered coast.  The holding is good in our area, and even with some blistering winds lately, no other boats have slid into or by us.  A 40 knot gust in a squall caught s/v Aspen and laid her over at 40 degrees while it readjusted her at anchor.  It was impressive.  No boats dragged near us, nor were there cries for help.
The temperature here is hot, not cold; but quite manageable in the harbour.  We sweat if we exert any effort onboard with chores, or when we go ashore for walks or shopping, but we are becoming used to it.   We read a lot, and I try to fix one thing per day on the boat, or carry out one maintenance item per day - which leaves me sweaty enough to need to get into the water.  Dawn is similarly busy with domestic chores.  Otherwise it is a lazy time.  We get together with our friends, but still watch our sunsets alone on our boats often enough.  
We have made 5 trips into the larger town of Marin, with its marinas and chandleries - two trips by water – with our dinghies being hauled in behind s/v Tarentela, and three by local bus - to arrange internet services, pick up the consumable boat and engine products, to get big grocery store things, and to increase the variety of our lunches ashore.  Always a crowd, and always fun but for the stress of buying internet data plans from phone companies in foreign tongues, which is apparently a very iterative process. We now seem to have 2 plans finally working from Digicel and from Orange - why and how is too complicated to answer.
We have made our favourite hike to a large beach on the south coast; favoured because after an hour or so, we have a fantastic little meal with cold beer before walking back, and because it is really a large mobile chat session with friends through picturesque shore-side forest.  There is a nice paved walking route through town that we frequent, but other hikes are not being done because of the wetness of the trails.
On board, I got another article completed and sent to the Caribbean Compass; this one on our now-retired meteorologist, Denis (and Arleen), who provided our weather for 12 or so years, but just sold his boat and returned to Canada.  It will be published in the February issue.  John of s/v Stoppknot has started up a net at Denis’ former time and frequency, and we are having fun on it; keeping in touch with the friends we met through Denis’ efforts.
The biggest thing about this period has been our lunches and get-togethers.  We had a giant buffet with 9 other couples on Xmas day at a restaurant called Touloulous, which included all you care to drink and eat; followed by a float in the ocean in front of the restaurant.
Bobbing in the water after Christmas dinner at Touloulous!

Al and Michele in the foreground - frolicking!

Touloulous restaurant Table #1 for 10!

Touloulous Table #2; 10 more of us!
There is also a place called Boubou’s, where Philippe serves bokit  - a sandwich in a bread pocket.  Our favourite is named after the restaurant and includes hamburger, fried egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrot slivers, (all known as les crudités) cheeses, and some very tasty condiments.
In the boatyard is a restaurant called Le Sextant, which has very French cuisine at low prices.  The plat du jour always is accompanied by 250 ml of chilled wine.   We have had crevettes and a chicken dish, always with healthy and tasty sides we do not see on other islands.
I will leave two or three other places out of this, but you get the idea.
I should also add that we had an outrageous cockpit party on New Year’s Eve on Cat Tales, with twelve in attendance.  Initially, one would expect that would be too crowded, but before midnight, there was even considerable dancing.  Check out the pictures.  ...and yes, we made it to midnight and beyond!
New Year's Eve aboard Cat Tales

Turn it up!!

The foolishness continues into 2018!!

Steve and Maria making the long trek over to our boat.  All gussied up for New Year's Eve!

Lorna and Brian are anchored behind us, with Aspen beside us, and Tarentela was just another boat away, until they headed north yesterday.  L&B has just returned to their boat with some people Kristen met at the laundromat last week who are looking for a boat. (L&B want to sell).  S/V Baidarka with Joanna and Bill, S/V Tanglewood with Jenny and Steve, and three other new friends are also all close by; with more heading our way daily from Rodney Bay.  We may soon have to leave just to survive.

After 4 trips up the mast with numerous fittings, I have concluded that the jib furler will have to fend for itself; indeed I do not think the deterioration is continuing.
Laurie working up the mast on a relatively calm afternoon in Saint Anne, Martinique (photo compliments of Aspen, anchored beside us.
The alternator alarm that I was troubleshooting – not just this year but last, was eliminated by changing out the alternator for a spare – suggesting strongly that the problem is some kind of short among the windings or the internal diodes.  So I now have an alternator to be investigated in Grenada.  With a boat with two alternators and two starters, we send something to Al Bernadine of Goyave for repairs most years.
When Cat Tales came home to Canada in 2002, the engine control handles crumbled in our hands and I reconstructed them out of putty, epoxy, polyester, and a few other products; as I could not source replacements.  Well, portions of the work again started to show trouble, primarily as the aluminum core of the original handles was growing as it oxidized.  I have reconstructed them again, and epoxy-coated them.
Laurie working on the repair of the handles for the engine control.  Many steps to finish this job!
With that, we just have small chores to keep us barely involved until the next thing breaks.  No worries - it is a boat; something will give way. We all have a saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t use it!”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Heading for Martinique

It is time for another update – not just because the last one was November 26, but because we are leaving for Martinique tomorrow, and anticipating significant frustration in dealing with communication.
The few days after our last blog continued at the same pace, doing similar stuff: victualizing, getting boat parts, and picking off the constant repairs and chores – especially those intended to be done in the boatyard. 
We could have spent weeks in Prickly Bay, and certainly had intended to spend a week in the anchorage outside St. George, enjoying that city and the second chandlery there.  However, we all had “itchy keels”, and Peace and Plenty, Tiger Lily II, and Cat Tales headed for Carriacou on November 30, during a forecasted weather window.  Tiger Lily II was being sailed by the new owners, but with Denis and Arleen aboard as consultants/guests, as per the purchase agreement.
The weather window promised under 18 knots, low waves, and a little veering to give us a southerly component.  As Carriacou’s Tyrell Bay is to the east of Carriacou, we would either need some southerly breeze or have to tack back and forth to the east.  As it was, we all made it without a tack, and well before dark.  Indeed, as we headed into the harbour, a sweet voice declared that tonight was Pizza Night at the Iguana Pub in the Tyrell Boatyard, with specials on both staple foods: pizza and beer.  We, along with Lorna and Brian (Peace and Plenty) met all four crewmembers of Tiger Lily II, as well as Baidarka and Prism’s crews for what turned out to be a raucous party with great pizzas; a fantastic way to end the “Friends of Denis” era, with Denis and Arleen in attendance.  Sure, we’ll be meeting up with other members of the tribe for the rest of our lives, but can it be the same?
Interestingly, it also signalled the start of my writing an article describing the FOD phenomenon for the Caribbean Compass, and it will probably be in the February issue.  I am checking facts and rounding up the pictures now.

Denis and Arleen toasting to their next chapter.  Last we heard they were looking out at SNOW back in Canada!!

Tyrell Bay also provided the quiet that allowed us to turn the three large bundles of callaloo, onions, peppers and spices, into the biggest and best-tasting callaloo soup to date.  We had Lorna and Brian as well as Charlie and Anina over to try it out, and they gave us – especially me – rave reviews.  (I know – Dawn tells me how and what to do)
A weather window arrived rather quickly, and once more, an island got the short shrift from us.  We sailed for Bequia on December fourth, again having a very nice time of it, as the waves were low and the angle of the wind allowed us to arrive without a tacking duel.  Just as well, for sure, as Peace and Plenty had lost their autohelm, and had to take turns standing at the wheel and reacting to the waves and wind.  At least the overcast sky kept us a few degrees cooler.  It was also a short stay:  We stretched our legs, hit the chandlery, tried a new restaurant over by Daffodil Laundry station (with the crews of Baidarka and Changes), and looked for a weather window.  Getting north at the start of the season is easy – as long as it is at the start of the season.  Soon, things will change with more northerly winds with more strength – and we’ll visit all this real estate on our way back south in the spring.

Laurie just happened to be up the mast doing some work when Joanna and Bill motored by to say goodbye!  They didn't even notice Laurie way up there until I pointed him out.

Laurie up the mast checking things for safety and repairing bungie cord and changing out a lightbulb for an LED bulb.  I'm at the bow trying to stay out of the way in case he drops a tool...

Tyrell Bay.  Baidarka (Joanna and Bill) heading over to see us.

The sail to St. Lucia on December 7th was also quite pleasant, although again arduous for Peace and Plenty – hand steering.  We left at 0400 hours, and arrived at 1800 hours; truly a long day.  While Lorna and Brian stood at the wheel, Dawn and I lounged about and grumbled about a speaker that vibrated too much during a few Neil Young songs.  The wind continued to veer all day, allowing us to make the easting, and only returned to our nose at Castries – forcing an hour of the Iron Jib to make port before dark.  Although Rodney Bay was reasonably empty, it took Dawn and I five tries to anchor.  Terry of Silk Pajamas took pleasure in reminding me, as we passed his boat, that I had a published article on how to anchor in the October issue of Compass – and I should read it.  Mercifully, Peace and Plenty grabbed the bottom on the first try, and promptly went to bed.
We have continued to victualize and socialize while here: meeting John Fallon at the Bread Basket for lunch, re-engaging with the people at the chandlery, meeting Robin Unwin, the friend and local shipwright at the boatyard pub, and meeting Steve of s/v Tanglewood at the mall food court – all the while hauling our other friends around with us; including Steve and Maria of Aspen, who came in yesterday and are planning to leave with us tomorrow.  We have also spent an evening with Terry and Kristin of Silk Pajamas; who have Martin of Providence, one of the Dominican PAYS boatboys aboard to address the ARC participants.  Oh yes, that’s a big thing, as we are in sight of the ARC finish line as these happy sailors cross and are greeted.  Lorna says one came in this morning before we awoke, with a jury-rigged spinnaker on a pole that was not the original mast; so there has been some trouble for some of them.  They have all been sailing across the Atlantic for a couple weeks and are tired and happy to be in Saint Lucia!
Lorna and Brian sailing on Peace and Plenty leaving Carriacou heading for Bequia

One sad note is how so much of Rodney Bay reminds us of Johnny Marley, our friend, who died while we were gone.  We saw him almost daily, on every visit, since 2005; and really did enjoy the friendship.
I have just finished a report for the Caribbean Compass resulting from playing “20 Questions” with Martin (from Dominica) regarding the status of Dominica since Hurricane Maria had her way with the island.  Chasing down pictures has been an event, with us and others emailing out for recent stuff. Hopefully, the report will convince some sailors to visit and help their economy recover.  We are going in today to hear Martin speak formally to the group, and to hear Chris Doyle, the author of our cruising guides, address new sailors into the Caribbean.
Tomorrow, we sail for St. Anne.  The weather looks lovely for the trip!

We are getting kind votes of approval for our newly painted stern steps, and enjoying that immensely; though it does reflect what a mess they were before.  Our new traveler bearings have made sail handling a joy.
Odd jobs continue to be crossed off our list, and leaving more space on our “white board” for other things.  One chore is taking some time:  The handles on the Morse/Teleflex engine controls have been deteriorating, and I have devised a repair.  However, I could not get them to come off the controls due to differential metal corrosion.  Many sprays of penetrating oil, a lot of wiggling, and regular whacking with my new impact driver over a few days allowed access yesterday, and we hope to have a complete, painted repair a day or so after we make Martinique.
I have lost confidence in our forward trampoline’s strength, and have undertaken a stopgap measure until we can source a replacement.  I spent hours feeding through a small line in a zig-zag pattern to make it less likely somebody could be lost.  The picture shows the result.

Laurie spent a few hours out in the sun spinning his web to reinforce the trampoline.  A new trampoline is on our list to find somewhere over the next season.

Furling problems at the top of the jib furler.  A job for Martinique next week.

At present, we have an irregular buzzer coming from the starboard engine, suggesting some sort of short related to the alternator, and the port engine seems to want to set fire to its alternator belt regardless of tension.  I also have a couple of allen screws missing from the top of our jib furler.  I took a picture to show our rigger in Le Marin, Martinique next week.  (We actually didn’t get our mast and rig survey until Dawn cranked me up the mast in Tyrell Bay)  So... there is always something to do on Cat Tales.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Out of the Boatyard and Afloat in Grenada!

We spent 6 hard days working on Cat Tales inside the Spice Island Boatyard in Grenada, and were launched last Tuesday, six days ago.

While Dawn washed off the old wax and installed new, cleaned and sorted inside the boat, I reassembled the engine pumps, hoses, filters, and anodes, reinstalled the propellers, and fixed some major faults at the bottom of the port swimming steps with fibreglass and gelcoat.  Together we put up the bimini shade, removed the sails from inside the boat and bent them on, and put new KiwiGrip antiskid on the swim steps, both sterns.
Repairs being made to the bottom step before tackling the anti skid paint

Laurie showing the "plan" used to get the rolling bearings to stay put.  We  brought the paraffin wax down from Canada because we had this already thought out!

Taping and painting.  The set up time was so fast, you had to remove the tape before the bottom step was started!  Very happy with the finish, and long overdue!

As always, the heat, noise, and dust of the yard were relentless, and we retired to the air conditioned little apartment across the street tired each night.  Actually, that apartment was more inviting than ever, this year, as Lorna and Brian met us inside on the Monday night we first arrived from the airport, with the refrigerator stocked with cold beer, bread, eggs and cheese, and a container of wine.  They also met us for supper many of our nights there.  The landlord and staff allow this, as not only did Lorna and Brian rent there weeks earlier, but the staff have trouble telling the sisters apart.
On one of the nights in the boatyard/apartment, we were able to get together with 5 other couples for a “Friends of Denis” supper.  Although the service at the chosen venue was more than terrible, all enjoyed the evening.  As well, it may have been notable as Denis and Arlene: long-term sailors, close friends, and dependable weather source: have just sold their boat and may not meet with any of us down here again.
Saying goodbye to Denis and Arlene (at the end of the table and to the left) was difficult.  They'll be greatly missed down here.  They are the 'glue' that holds this great group of friends together!!

We left the boatyard without any trouble, unlike past years when either an engine does not start or does not spit water in the exhaust.  We moved out into the bay a bit, and dropped anchor.  Although we had dozens of things that had to be done, we stopped everything, had a beer, and read books for an hour or so before gently attacking the do-list.  Since then, we have the list down to only 8 or 9 items, depending on who’s asking.  We have one pic of Cat Tales in the lift, attempting to demonstrate how small she is compared to what the lift capacity, and compared to the other cats in the yard.
More than that, we have attended a wonderful cooking course at a nearby resort and attended a Hash House Harriers trail race last night, complete with beers and an “oil down” local meal.  And....we both have finished two books each.  Last night’s Hash was loads of fun; as we were able to join Al and Michele of Tarantella and Charlie and Anina of Prism on the bus, trail, and at the party.  Another picture shows what happens to the first-timers or “virgins”: they go home smelling of beer, mud and sweat.  You also get a view of the diversity of hashers:  young and old, cruisers, locals, foreign students, etc.
Cat Tales is being picked up and delivered to the ocean for another 5 months of living the dream!

Al and Michele from s/v Tarentela on the left.  Charlie and Anina from s/v Prism in the middle and Laurie on the right.  I, of course am taking the picture!  What a muddy mess we were, but the icy cold beers fixed us right up!!

The ceremony for new Hashers (virgins) is always fun to watch.  It's such a well kept secret, they don't even see it coming!

Our plans are to stay at least 2 more days while we sort out a little welding job, a credit card issue, and some fuel; then just go around to St. George’s Harbour for a victualizing of fresh vegetables and fruit.  I hope to get some callaloo for soup.  From there, we’ll take a big jump days later to Carriacou for more relaxing, minor chore management, and to pick up some conch, often called lambi.

Two big jobs that caused us concern should be discussed:
1.      Replacing the bearings in the traveler car:  We had real trouble last year with the traveler refusing to move and spitting plastic – what was left of the ball bearings.  We sourced the new bearings, then worked hard last spring to loosen and remove the end fitting to the traveler.  I finally borrowed an impact hammer, and liked it so much I went out and bought one.  We then had to remove the push-pit (stern frame that terminates the lifelines – opposite of the pulpit at the bow) to allow the car to slide of the rail.  Now, the hard part.  The bearings ran between the car and the rail, with a return slot to deliver them from one side to the other of the car.  Without the rail, the balls fall out!  As you can see from the picture, the solution was to whittle a rail out of paraffin wax, install the balls, place the car endcaps on, then slide the car off the paraffin and onto the rail.  It worked, but not immediately.  (no balls lost, however)  Cleaning up the pushpit and rebedding it was not technically difficult, but a fair job.

2.     Repairing the port stern stair and installing KiwiGrip:  We had a failure at the step after an aluminum dinghy banged against it, and were surprised to find, after grinding out for a repair, that there were three previous “bruises” on the step that had been ground out and filled with poor filler.  I had to grind all three out and properly layer up repairs, cover it all with gelcoat, and sand down to a reasonable finish.  Cleaning up the old non-skid material was an awful job, and I almost suffered sunstroke from working on it.  Finally, Dawn assisted while we taped, slathered, and stippled the new material.  We’re both very happy with it.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Meanwhile, back in Canada: Summer 2017

Here we are, just three days before we fly back to the Caribbean, and we have documented nothing of our summer away from Cat Tales.  Gary, a friend of Dawn’s ran into her in town yesterday, said he had been checking on the weblog to see where we were, and was happy to see her and eliminate the mystery!

Returning to cool weather, hot showers, and rising lake levels in late April was just fine for us – feeding a wood stove fire and working out cottage chores was fun.  We quickly got into our routine of visiting friends and relatives. 

Something different for us was a 3-week trip to Europe in late June.  We landed in Barcelona, and joined a G-Adventure tour of northern Spain with a guide and 13 like-minded and enjoyable people.  We toured the fantastic architecture of Barcelona, hiked high in the Pyrenees along a branch of the Santiago Pilgrim Trail, walked to the Guggenheim in Bilbao, toured the battlements of San Sebastian, walked the walled old town of the City of Logrono, had a wine tasting in the grottos under the walled town of Laguardia, and walked through the history of Madrid; all the while investigating with great zeal the tapa and pinxto bars of all the locations.
Fortified town of Ainsa, Pyrenees 

On the Camino Trail, Pyrenees

Gaudi's church, la Sagrada Família

Wine tasting in a grotto, Laguarda

Pinxto Bar, in the Basque region of northern Spain

A train trip to the famous walled fortress of Carcassonne, France, got us set up for a Le Boat canal trip on a 43’ “bumperboat” with Al and Michelle (s/v Tarantella) and Steve and Maria (s/v Aspen), down the Canal du Midi (and over 40 locks), and through little villages and vineyards to Narbonne.  We finished off with two more days gallivanting around Barcelona – just the two of us – before boarding the flight back to Canada.  We spent a great deal of time contemplating the lunacy of Gaudi’s church – the Sagrada Familia – and the outrageousness of the government and donors, in continuing to build it.
These were big things for us, as we had spent no significant time in Europe before.  Finding traces of the Roman road Via Domitia, possibly the path of Hannibal’s elephants, the Black Prince, the Cathars, the Inquisition, the Moors, and Sir Arthur Wellesley chasing the French were reached goals – though we spent probably too much time in and around old, amazing, outrageously ornate and oversized, catholic churches.  We have so many pictures of fantastic history, cuisine and culture, vistas, architecture, etc.  But this is a sailing weblog, isn’t it?  Let us know if you wish to see a bit of it.
Michele steering LeBoat down the canal...what a hot day!!

Carcassonne, the famous fortress

Other trips included a long weekend in Prince Edward Island and a biking weekend in Kouchibouguac Park; both with close friends and many bouts of hysteria.  Of course, the Annual Pig Roast at Hugh and Liz’s was a cornerstone, fun event.
Biking trip with Paula & Brian in Kouchebouquac

Our weekly Friday cove get-togethers with all 12 in attendance!

Hiking in PEI with Bill & Lynn Cabel, and Scott & Tina Kennah.  Great weekend with old friends!

A beautiful 3 hour  run down the river in rental kayaks.  Good going there Tina!!
Annual Pig Roast hosted by Hugh and Liz.  Here's Leo, one of the carvers!

So, here we are, bags filling up on the spare bed, hot tub and Hobie away, wetland and potted plants cleaned into the compost bins, and the gutters cleaned.

A full list of repairs awaits us at the boat, and it will easily fill the week before splashing.  We’ll put them in a hierarchy of need, and hopefully only miss those that can be done afloat.  The normal, annual stuff includes untarping, dinghy and outboard assembly, reinstalling the Flex-O-Fold propellers, impellers, various filters, general re-commissioning, touching up bottom paint and hopefully, washing and waxing. 
One special project is the replacement of the bearings for the main traveler.  I worked hard last year to get the proper bolts to move to allow the removal of the traveler, but still, to get it off, the port push-pit must also come off.  We’ll take it off along with the port toe-rail, and re-bed the whole assembly.

Another project is to repair the outer skin of the port stern step, where an aluminum dinghy broke through and allowed water to ingress.  As this will be the final straw for the stairway non-skid pad, we intend to purchase Kiwi non-skid paint for the complete set of stairs on both hulls.

Sadly, I allowed a sparking of the port alternator while decommissioning, which may have damaged diodes; so that is ready to be shipped to an alternator specialist in Gouyave, northern Grenada as soon as we arrive.  If it is late returning, I will bend on the spare.
The seawater pump for the refrigerator is giving up the ghost, so we have one waiting for us in Island Water World, hopefully.

Of course, water, propane, alcoholic fluids, and the basics for the ship’s stores must be acquired and moved aboard.  Very busy times in the heat ahead!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Season's Wrap Up!

 So, last report, April 4th, Cat Tales and Peace & Plenty were in Tyrell Bay, Carriacou.  We received a good weather report and decided, for the first time, to attempt to go down the east, or windward side of Grenada.  We were rather nervous, since Dawn and I had attempted the east side of St. Vincent a few years ago with s/v Free Spirit.  We had found outrageously confused seas as the waves and wind reverberated off the steep island.  Worse, the wind that should have kept us going came and went as it got backed up from the hills, and the current constantly hauled us nearer shore.  Ultimately, we motored through the awful waves and thrashing.

But this time, the trip down Grenada wasn't bad at all.  We chose to stay at least 4 miles away, the waves were manageable, the wind was constant, and it was better than having to motor down the west side.   We pulled around the corner into St. David's harbour after only 4.5 hours. 

The plan allowed us to visit a number of harbours on the south coast, and travel downwind to Prickly Bay.  It was nice to have avoided the upwind slog from St. George's to Prickly; and the visiting was fun too.   We only actually stopped in St. David's and again in Clarke's Court; but got to see the two other boatyards, clean up our boats in the flatter waters, visit with s/v Tiger Lily II and s/v Sittatunga (and others), and try out many of the eating and drinking spots we had heard about over the years.

We love the creativity on these islands!

Laurie and Brian tying and locking dinghies while we go to lunch.

We thought it was just a sign, but it really was an iguana crossing!
The bays themselves are no great shakes:  wind blows through them, waves are rather constant except in a few corners, and the water is tremendously polluted and cloudy.  Some of the water problem is simply because of mangroves that line almost every bank, and the freshwater streams that come in from every cleft; but not completely.  These streams run far inland, and are polluted by sewage and, in the case of Clarke's Court Bay, by the industrial runoff of the island's largest rum distillery.  Not a place for swimming, although I did get in and give the boat's bottom a final scrape and wash in St. David's.
Laurie working on the washing and waxing of Cat Tales while out in the bay.  We leave wax on for the summer season and then wash is off with soap and water on our return.

Even more than Tyrell Bay, the Clarke's Court area is the last stop for a large population of very crusty old sailors, from Canada, US, Britain, and parts of the EU.  Mostly male and alone, they spend their days at the rum shops or enjoying the community gatherings.  They head back to their boats at night in dinghies that should have or actually were thrown away, and dare to sneak through the speeding local pirogues in the dark without lights.  Their boats all seem to be old and in need of work, much like their dinghies, and we imagine their banter at the rum shops might be about how they intend to find a solution to a major problem on board ...maybe next year.  We took a dinghy ride around to see some of these boats.  Most appear to show scars from the 2004 hurricane, with some just plain neglected but lived in.  There are retired couples betwixt and between; keeping the community together with jam sessions, pot lucks, beach barbecues, trivia games and the absolutely necessary weekly domino games. 

I think you can close the curtains on this boat!
We organized at least three wonderful lunches ashore, some with other boats, before we made the last jump to Prickly Bay.  Dawn and I had organized a full week ashore, while Lorna and Brian did a great job of getting the boat ready on the water, and pulled out only 2 nights before joining us on the same flight home on the 20th of April.  Of course, we got together for a night at the craft brewery, two meals at the new Prickly Bay restaurant, and one meal at the Greek restaurant at the University.  Eating out is a pleasure of ours on ALL the islands!

We are now back in Canada enjoying the coolish spring weather and all the fun stuff, like a car, washer/dryer, hot running water and a flush toilet!!!

Since we never did find our leak, we're hoping the tarp has covered it!

One more sexy catamaran!  This one is called Helicat Red.  Yup, that's a helicopter landing pad on the back end!

Biggest news is that I was introduced to a new tool, an impact driver.  It is like a screw driver except that it turns when you hit it with a hammer.  Two different boaters came to me in the yard to ask that I try it after hearing me tapping at a large screw on my traveler every few hours, attempting to drive in the penetrating oil.  They knew I was in trouble, and indeed, it might have been a lifetime of tapping without the tool.  As it was, the little hammer that came with the boat actually broke from my efforts before I tried the driver.  I promptly ran down to Ace Hardware and bought my own, I was so impressed.

The usual maintenance and decommissioning work was done, but we also began in earnest our efforts to stop up the leak that is delivering water to the port hull at the forward bulkhead.  We used a combination of butyl tape and 3M 4000UV on the port pulpit, toerail and one stantion, all the toggles of the windshield, and all the snaps of the window sunscreens.  We also wrapped the salon in tarp to attempt to minimize the water that might cause mould while in storage.  More rebedding will occur in the fall.

Over our 5 months of sailing, we were hit by other boats numerous times, and these hits have to be addressed.  One was just a propeller cut of the anchor bridle, and I spliced the ropes.  The Hobie Cat 16 hit to the stern was repaired in the Saintes, but the colour match was made with spray paint.  Since another hit, one causing leaking at the swim ladder, is going to require some gelcoat, I'll redo that one as well next season.  A starboard bow scrape also needs gelcoat.

Other pending plans include replacing all the emergency u-bolts at the waterline, regluing bilge switches that let go, replacing dodgy-looking hose clamps, non-skid on the swim steps, reloading the bearings in the traveler car, and other things.  Who would have thought that 7 days in a boatyard would make such a small dent?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Grenadines

While we were arranging what to put in this weblog, Lorna published a fantastic blog for Peace and Plenty.  You ought to take a look at it, as they have been along with us these last few weeks.  Click on the link on the sidebar after you are finished here.

We're having a slow day at anchor in Tyrell Bay, Carriacou.  The wind is blowing 14-18 knots, the sea has a gentle swell, and the cabin is around 29 C.  Dawn is going in with Lorna and Brian to play dominoes, and I will continue with my boat chores: making water, unsticking bolts and screws, touching up gelcoat areas, transferring fuels, finalizing the work list for the boatyard.

We left Ste. Anne, Martinique on the 13rd of March, with Peace and Plenty just behind us, and had a lovely sail over to Rodney Bay; just a bit of water on the deck.  There were large enough waves, but they were with rounded edges in the 15 knots of wind. No fish, however.

Rodney Bay was a whirlwind of activity, with us staying only 8 days until the next weather window allowed us to sail to Bequia.  Still, we hit the highlights: a lunch, a supper, and a happy hour with John Fallon, a bit of hiking, buying boat parts, celebrating Lorna's birthday with a big party at a bar on the marina boardwalk.  Brian and I also hiked to Vigie Light one day and left Lorna and Dawn to shop all day with no time limits and no bored men waiting by each store door.
In Rodney Bay, Johnny spends most of his day paddling around selling woven straw hats and whatever he can sell.  Laurie is often seen taking Johnny back to the shore in rough weather.

One of many birthday celebrations for Lorna.  This one was with old friends in Rodney Bay on the Boardwalk.  Lorna and Dawn are at the far end of the table on the left.  Across from them is Laurie and John Fallon.
The Vigie hike was a "do-over" from the previous year, as I intended to write up a story for a magazine on it, but had a poor camera.  Vigie Light is on top of a minor 320' hill at the mouth of Castries harbour.  The light guides ships, but a radio operator constantly monitors and guides marine traffic into and out of the tiny bay opening to coordinate the boats with the airport.  The end of the runway is at the edge of the bay, and the smallest sailboat mast could be clipped by an airplane.  The hill is well littered with historic buildings and gun placements, dilapidated and repurposed barracks, and an archive.  The archive itself has good information on the hill and the structures, as well as an original of the military report of the WWII submarine attack  (U-161) that sank two boats at the dock and killed a couple of dozen people.  One of those boats was Canada's Lady Nelson: built by CN in England in 1928 for passengers and mail between Canada, England, Guyana, and the Caribbean.  After it was refloated, it was taken to Alabama to be fixed, and was converted to a hospital ship and made 30 crossings, carrying 25 000 wounded to Halifax.  The approach to Vigie also includes a large graveyard, where some of the crew of the two ships are buried.

Hilariously, the Archives was closed this time.  Maybe, with some internet work, I can grind out the article during the summer anyway.  Otherwise, I will make the hike again next fall.

Entrance to Castries Harbour from Vigie Lighthouse

Married Quarters at Vigie Light

Other embassies, Vigie Light

Upper Meadow's Battery
We arrived in Bequia on the evening of Tuesday, March 21, after 14 hours of very nice sailing.  Peace and Plenty arrived an hour ahead of us, as the last bit of sailing had the wind close hauled, and his boat demonstrated superiority at that angle.  Bequia, too, we did in a rush; getting quickly into the favourite restaurants and doing a few walks to stay healthy. 

Cute signage along Lower Bay Beach in Bequia!
 Seven days later, we had another fantastic sail, and anchored for two nights at Frigate Rock, Union Island.  We were joined there by an acquaintance, Mark of Toronto, who was solo-sailing a Catalina 38 "Current Affairs", through the region before heading back to Canada.  With Mark, we hiked up a steep trail to the top of the 800+' "Big Hill" which towers over the little village of Ashton.  We also sailed over to Petit Martinique, and anchored almost a half mile from shore in 12 feet of sand.  It has to be one of the most beautiful anchorages in the world, but the currents go so fast under the boat -east-then-west- that jumping overboard is hazardous.

We are anchored to the right side of Frigate Rock pictured here.  You can also see the beginnings of a marina intended for this space.  Unfortunately, we see too many failed projects on these islands.  Let's hope it's a good spot for fish to breed.

After the hike up the mountain, we stopped by a little rum shop for a few cool ones.  Lorna and Brian are on the left, with Mark from s/v Current Affair.  Beside Mark is our new friend of the day, Eddie!
Anchored between  Petit St. Vincent and Petit Martinique, we found a lovely patch of sand at a perfect depth to drop the hook.  The water colour is so beautiful and clear, you can see your anchor from the deck!  We hiked around the entire Petit Martinique and then had a fabulous lunch at Melody's on the beach.
Tyrell Bay is being rushed as well, with a quick walk to Paradise Beach for the view and a few cold beer with Curtis at "Off da Hook", and an early supper at Lucky's Bar last night.  Tomorrow, we hope to sail down to Grenada.  We are watching the weather, and hoping to sail down the east side if the wind and weather are conducive.  This will allow us to gunkhole along the south shore of Grenada, going downwind between the bays.  If not, we will stay on the lee side and anchor tomorrow in St. Georges.


Our Amiot main traveler is spitting out plastic, meaning the high density plastic bearings in it are shot.  I am attempting to source new bearings while I use penetrating oil and tapping to release all the fittings to allow access.

We have been attempting to end a leak that is puddling fresh water in the port hull.  I have rebedded over 20 fittings and am waiting for another rain to see if I got it.  In the meantime, a puddle showed up after a very minor rain to keep us confused.  Then we left the boat for a day with vinegar trapped in the bathroom drains to remove soap scum.  Well, when we smelled vinegar in the bilge, we knew that some of the water is related to the drains.  I was able to tighten the shower drain to stop that, and now we wait.  Interestingly, while I was filling the sink drain with vinegar, a poor little 30 mm crab jumped up and into the sink.  I immediately flung the little guy into the ocean, hoping he survives.  Imagine being an aquatic creature and immersed in vinegar - all your sensory organs and the rest.  I cry when I get some in a tiny cut!