Monday, September 18, 2006

After a month anchored at Hog Island, this feels very much like our new neighbourhood. Our anchor chain is fuzzy with growth, and our prop is once again growing an underwater garden of goo and barnacles. I try to go round the waterline once a week or so and scrape off the green streamers of growth, but it's a gross job, and once you start to rub off the brown slimey stuff further down on the hull, the water all round gets full of bits and grot, and the urge to leap out of the water and disinfect from hair to toenails is pretty strong.

Other than that, being parked for several weeks has its advantages. The neighbours are great, and we meet new friends every week. The dogs are very nice: Katie, Daisy and Guiseppe, to name a few. This bay is approximately the same size as Lunenburg harbour, and there's about 25-35 boats. Some have been here for years. There's a broad range of nationalities, and just now there's a lot of kids - age 3 to 14 - and most of them are home-schooled aboard, though there's a couple that go to the local school. Since school started, there's been lots more kids on the local buses. The youngest wear gingham uniforms in pink and yellow and blue, with gray trousers for the boys, and the older kids have crisp white shirts and pleated navy skirts or gray trousers. Even the littlest kids come and go on the little buses, sometimes with older brothers and sisters, and sometimes they're just watched over by the other passengers. One afternoon last week, a tiny girl fell asleep and keeled over on me, and when we got to her road, the bus fella just reached over and lifted this small sweaty child out of the bus, carried her at arm's length across the road, put her gently on her feet at the bottom of her driveway, and she staggered up the hill to the house.

Our friends on Mange Tout, Stewart and Tara, have been "on the hard" for a couple of weeks. They hauled to clean the bottom and found some serious delamination on the rudder and the keel, and a few days out has turned into weeks. We trekked over to St. Davids to visit and cheer them up. David and Kim and Randy and I packed up cold packs of beer, cheezies and peanuts and bug spray and proceeded up the hill, and up another hill, and another, and down and up. Had to stop and buy drinks at a roadside bar, and ran into lots of people to chat with. We ended up walking about 3 miles in the hot sun (30 degrees) until we got to the spot where we could take the bus to St Davids -- another 20 minutes on the bus round the coast and over the hills. It was beautiful though, and the more we see of Grenada, the more we like it. Lots of small houses strung out along the roadside, little rum shops, vegetable stands, lots of people, lots of beautiful vegetation, a few rusted out cars. At the head of the road to the boatyard, we bought terrific mangos from a lady at the side of the road. Another mile to walk, and we wandered into the boatyard singing carnival songs. Stewart and Tara were glad to see us. We gossiped and drank all the beer, then headed down the road to the bar at the Bel Air for more food and drink. We took a cab back.

There's a group of trekkers in Grenada called the Hash House Harriers. They get together every couple of weeks and do a strenuous run/hike somewhere on the island. The most recent run started and ended at Whisper Cove Marina, which is pretty much the "local" spot for cruisers. This promised to be the biggest crowd ever at Whisper Cove, so the cruisers volunteered to help out. Randy sold food tickets, and I was slinging beer. There was about 150 HHH's, and they came back from their run soaking wet (sweat, salt water - there was a bit of a misunderstanding about the route, which had been set at low tide, but they were running at high tide) and with big thirsts. Lots of fun.

Development is threatening our other local hangout - Roger's Beach Bar on Hog Island. The backhoe moved in about two weeks ago, and has dug rough roads all across the little island, and cleared areas that will be house lots on the waterfront all round the island. The long arm of the backhoe is just visible behind Roger's today, and we're all wondering how close it will get. The kids were pretty upset when they discovered that their elaborate fort in the trees had been destroyed. There are occasional gunshots, and we've heard that the locals running the machines have been given permission to shoot the goats, which they butcher and take home to eat or take to the market. Whenever anyone hears a shot, people get on the VHF to warn parents.

Like many countries, beaches in Grenada are public property. Gossip about the development on Hog includes a marina, private villas, a hotel, a golf course a resort, and a bridge across to the mainland. Geez. With that kind of money flying around, nobody can imagine Roger's shack lasting very long. In the meantime, Sunday afternoon continues to draw big crowds at Roger's, lots of music, lots of rum, lots of ganja, lots of kids playing on the beach and in the water. This week, there was some truly lousy karaoke calypso. It was pretty funny. The music usually wraps up around midnight, well after we've turned on the fan in the forward cabin and gone to sleep.

This past weekend we joined in a beach clean-up -- part of an international effort, and a couple of dozen cruisers and divers got together and spread out over three different beaches. The little beach we worked on is just around the corner from the anchorage at Hog Island, and looks quite clean from the water, but it was clogged with crap just beyond the high water mark. Biting red ants, weird spiders and sucking mangrove mud that trapped your feet and shoes made the job interesting. We dug piles of garbage out of the mangroves and recorded everything before we bagged it and hauled it away. There was a lot of discussion about the need for recycling facilities on the island. We bagged dozens of engine oil containers, plastic, styrofoam, cans, tins, polyprop line, plastic bags, and one cigarette butt. And lo and behold, we recovered one of our own beercan insulating sock-thingies that went missing about two weeks ago. How embarrassing.

Randy is still working away on the rowboat. It took about two weeks to get over to Budget Marine and pick up the teak for the floorboards, and another week or two to find a source for mahogany and get it planed. This is a great location for hanging out, but it's very complicated to actually get to anywhere to purchase stuff. Seven of us commandeered one of Henry's Safari Tours taxis and did an afternoon of shopping. By the time we got back, the van was filled to bursting with teak, boat bits, groceries and boxes of wine and beer and it took another half-hour of sorting before we all loaded up our dinghies and slowly putted off to our boats. Sometime later, Sharon was on the VHF looking for a bag of mangoes and a half a cabbage that had gone home with someone else.

So far, we haven't had any alarming weather reports, and it looks like Nova Scotia is more likely to see heavy weather from hurricanes. We still listen to the weather every morning for potential problems, but the worst we've seen is a few cloudy days, and one day of heavy rain. We've been trying to collect water in an inadequate tarp and drain set-up that requires fairly constant monitoring. I provided some entertainment for the neighbours when I went out in the heavy rain to adjust the raincatcher in my bikini and black sou'wester. It was the proper outfit for the conditions. Go ahead and laugh.

Friday, September 08, 2006

More Grenada pictures. Above, the kids from some of the other boats at Hog Island. Celebrating on the last weekend before home schooling starts!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Happy September.

It's probably started to get cooler in Halifax. We would be donning sweaters and long pants if we were spending the evening in the back yard at home. Here at Hog Island it gets dark by 6:30, and we sit in the cockpit in our boxers and let the evening breeze cool us off a bit. Can't do that at home.

Week-long birthday celebrations have just wrapped up. David and Kim on Amanzi, Randy, and Phil, over at Whisper Cove Marina -- all Virgos, all within a week of each other (Anna too, but she celebrated the big 23 at choir camp in Berwick, without a mummy-made marble cake this year). We started off with an impromptu taco night on Amanzi, then the big event was a Braai on the beach on Saturday. Braai is a South African word that comes close to meaning barbeque and party, and that's what we did. We shared the beach with a group of local guys who were cooking up a big pot of "strong water." Everything Caribbean men eat or drink is about their all-important virility. Apparently a combination of boiled octopus, land crab, water crab, lobster and conch will make them immediately need to go home and make babies. So they told us. They reluctantly let Kim taste it, and we noted no change in her behaviour. Maybe it only works for men. (I get really weird, startled looks if I order a Guinness here. Only men drink Guinness, for obvious reasons.)

On Braai day, Cliff and Melody (Cliff's Note), Menno (Eira), Tara and Stewart (Mange Tout), the Amanzis and the Nancy Dawsons dragged all our gear to the beach at Hog Island and played stupid games just like a real birthday party. Randy, David and Kim, the celebrants, were made to partake in contests of one sort or another before they could open their presents. Starting with an egg and spoon race -- there was only one egg, so the boys had onions. Kim was led to believe it was a hard-boiled egg that she trotted to victory, after one false start, and found that this was not so when she crushed it in triumph. Next, the three-legged race, and they all got to choose a partner. Kim must have been stinging from the egg wash, because she cheated outrageously, and Melody and David were declared the winners because Melody got a blister.

That left Randy as the only birthday fella with no win, so Tara declared that he must sing "Happy Birthday" in the style of Elmer Fudd. His mother can be very proud of her talented boy. They all got party loot bags with various items to assist with hurricane preparedness: "eau sheet" toilet rolls, plastic ponchos, rum, party poppers, bois bande wine (another Caribbean aphrodisiac, for men naturally) scrubbies for cleaning the waterline, chocolate, clean boxers, erotic novels ... just the essentials really.

Kim's birthday was the next day, and for all that we'd all planned to stay in and eat sensibly and rest up, we all ended up dinghying over to Whisper Cove Marina for pizza night.

Since then, it's been pretty quiet. Just one big get together Whisper Cove for Phil's birthday, a jazz night party at Roger's Bar on Hog Island, and a couple of pot lucks (cruisers are big on eating someone else's cooking. No wonder. There was even Jello at the last pot luck. It disappeared first.)

Roger's Bar is a hangout for both locals and cruisers. Sometimes there's more than a dozen dinghies parked on the beach, and a couple of the local wooden launches with big outboards that go flying through the anchorage late at night. Lately, there's been just as many kids and dogs as adults. You can get coolish beer, rum and coke, bbq on Sundays. John on Sea Witch has been here for four years, and he told us that the bar was knocked together by cruisers, and Roger, a Grenadian, has sort of turned it into a money-maker, albeit a very rustic one. No water, no refrigeration, electricity comes from the little generator, and there's no toilet or outhouse. Under the noonday sun there's a decidedly pissy pong out back. Roger sleeps on a lawn chair behind the bar, and emerges about 7 in the morning to rake the beach clean. We spent a couple of mornings there with Amanzi's sewing machine helping them to put together a huge sun awning for the boat. After a while, the pong and the sticky counter and the arrival of a day charter catamaran full of sunburned vacationers convinced us to find a better location. Phil very kindly offered the use of the back room at Whisper Cove, and then the use of their sewing machine after Amanzi's came to a full smoking halt. We're really enjoying Whisper Cove and the folks there - it's one of the friendliest places in the Caribbean, and Phil and Shelley are possibly the most generous and helpful people we've met thus far in Grenada (Canadians, eh?).

While we worked on the awning, Randy's been working on the rowing dinghy. He fiberglassed and epoxied the bottom on the foredeck of ND, then towed it to the beach, and did the messy grinding there. It still needs sanding and painting inside, but we took it for a row this morning, and the neighbours were all "oooh," and "aaaah." She goes some fast and smooth you, and it's great fun. Once he gets all the bits and pieces tiddlied up, we'll have a proper christening. Lord, another party.

Grocery store note: On Wednesday, Kim and I applied for our customer discount cards at the IGA in Grand Anse. First we were told they'd be ready in 10 days to 2 weeks. Then another lady told us we could pick them up on Friday. I was there on Saturday, and was told, "deys ready, but dey not laminated yet. You can get dem on Monday." Just about everything moves with the same blinding speed and efficiency. We took Nancy around to Martin's Marina for fuel and water a few days ago. We called on the VHF first and let them know we were coming. There was no one on the dock, so I went to the office and the girl said, "I call someone." I took an hour and a half to get fuel and water and the bill for same. Granted, it's a long walk down the dock. We're learning to live with GMT - Grenada Maybe Time.

See below for birthday pictures.

Free Web Counter