Saturday, February 21, 2009

Happy to be back at Hog Island on the south coast of Grenada. We spent hurricane season (summer) here in 2006, and we have happy (if occasionally vague) memories of our friends on Carapan, Eira, Amanzi and others. It still feels like a neighbourhood, though most of the boats have changed. John and Deb on Sea Witch are still ensconced, and John was just by for a yarn. I think we're caught up on the neighbourhood news, some of it lurid, some mundane. The place is still gorgeous.

We went for a hike around the island - at least it used to be a hike, now it was a stroll. There's an excellent dirt road that winds all over the place, and everywhere there are markers for the lots that will be developed sometime in the future. Someone has smashed most of the styrofoam lot number signs. Bit of a statement? There's an impressive bridge that links Hog Island to the mainland, but the bridge is gated and locked on the mainland side.

After we'd walked almost all the way around the island, we (me) decided that we could find a shortcut through to the beach instead of retracing our steps back along the road. There's a great mudflat that looked dry and cracked and passable, so we headed across. Then there was a sticky bit, then the next step the sticky mud was loading up our sandals, then the next step we stuck, and the pressure of our footsteps was driving hundreds of tiny (bug-like) crabs to the surface. Usually, crabs instantly thwock back into their holes when you pass by, but these ones were squirting out all round our feet, looking swarmy and nippy. Randy turned tail and I made him come back and grab my hand - I was creeped out by the thought of slipping and falling and being overcome by zillions of tiny crabs. A Jumanji or Raiders of the Lost Ark sort of moment. We strolled back along the road, home in time for rum, but our sandals are still on deck packed with cement-like mud.

You never know who you'll meet here. Yesterday, two young German charterers came by with a dinghy full of food, leftovers from overpurchasing for their charter - they were trying to trade for olive oil, the only thing they'd run out of apparently. No beer on offer - just after breakfast, and they were drinking up the beer supplies as they made their round of the anchorage with their dinghy full of cereal and tea and instant coffee.

Last night we hauled our folding seats onto the cabin top and watched the Milky Way do its thing for an hour or so. Dinghies went by on their way home from Roger's Beach Bar, and trailed streams of phosphoresence in their wakes. There's a new comet that we should be able to see, Comet Lulin, but so far, we've slept through the optimum viewing times. When I did get up, I noticed that the light was still on at Roger's, and this morning there was a lone fella sleeping on one of the picnic tables. I was wondering how long he'd be marooned there, but a boat came by and picked him up after lunch. Time enough to sleep off his hangover.

Watching the anchorage can be a bit like watching TV with the sound off: you get the visuals, but what the hell is going on is all a matter of vast speculation. A big catamaran anchored yesterday off the beach, two men and two women went ashore, and another four or five people stayed onboard, so busy hauling buckets of water off the stern that they didn't notice they were dragging. We watched them drag back toward the reef, about 20 boat-lengths, and we're just about to jump in the dinghy and alert them when they finally twigged. They hauled the anchor, did a bunch of lazy circles, nearly went aground at the beach and then raised sail and took off -- leaving four people on the beach standing and staring as they disappeared. One of the fellas on the beach had been pacing and talking on his cellphone for an hour, and when he was done, he and the other man left the women on the beach and disappeared inland. They came back after an hour, indicated that they had found that there was a passage through to the other bay on the north side, and they got in their little dinghy and left. There were at least half-a-dozen cruisers on the beach who could have told them that, but when you have a cell phone, you don't have to ask for directions I guess.

I'd give a nickel to know what happened after they found their boat.

I picked up news of the outside world on the shopping bus a few days ago. There's a big wheel American billionaire banker in Antigua, name of Stanford, who has been pumping a lot of money into international cricket matches in Antigua. Turns out that his monetary assets are connected to the drug lords in South America and now he's in a pile of trouble in the States and Antigua. Seems like an extra kick in the pants after the recent bank meltdowns, but it sounds like a lot of Stanford bank customers have seen the last of their investments. Last year when dozens of cruisers were defrauded via their bank cards and credit cards in Antigua (we got hit too, about $200, which Scotiabank made good on), it was a representative of the Stanford Bank from the US who came to try to sort things out - apparently the fraudsters got the info via a Stanford bank. Hmmmm.

Other Caribbean news: the general strikes in Martinique and Guadeloupe are turning nasty. Unless things change, we'll be planning our trip back to Antigua so that we can bypass them both. Food, water, fuel, power, services and goodwill are in very short supply, and recent news says that there's a racial element to the increasing violence. Not a surprise. There's a good Wikipedia article about what's going on, and why:,_2009

The dry season in Grenada has been pretty wet so far, and it's blowing hard with intermittent rain. Whitecaps in the anchorage. A boat just came in and set three anchors (hope there's no big wind shift, or he'll be in knots shortly), and the boat next to us just set a second. Our second anchor is rigged and ready. It's blowing to hard to paint or varnish or hang out laundry, and my freshly-washed hair is trying to dreadlock itself in the breeze. The Grenada Classics races start today, and the Captain says this kind of wind is a gear-buster for those old boats. We were hoping to go to Guyave for the fish fry, but it's just blowing too hard to leave the boat. Lentil soup instead. Whoo-hoo.

February 21st is Big Daddy Brown's birthday - Happy 83rd Dad!

See below for lots of new pics. Click on them for full-sized images.

Visiting Tony and Rosie on Norumbega in Prickly Bay

Refinishing the #$%^&%!! wheel.

Market day in St. George's

Ukelele jam at Whisper Cove

Wee melons growing wild on Hog Island.

Gorgeous moths all over the place.

Goats usually eat these before we get to see the blossoms.

Roger's renos

Monday, February 16, 2009

More photos from Bequia and the music fest. (We're currently getting through a couple of very gray, rainy days here in Grenada. Waaaa. Waaaa. I'll post another blog when things look up.)

Chris and Belinda (Nahanni, from Whitehorse)

The baby section at the music fest (behind the big speakers)

Babes outside the "security" fence.

Dancing, yes, dancing on the (picnic) table.

Big winner. Watch for it on eBay.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I'd start out with a brief synopsis of the weather, but I hate to hear the sound of knashing teeth, so I'll just move right along.

Bequia is about two weeks behind us, then a week in Carriacou, and we've been in Prickly Bay, Grenada for about a week.

We did get to the Sunday afternoon bit of the music fest in Bequia, and found ourselves parked on the sand at a picnic table listening to a Dixieland band from Barbados. There were several groups featuring "senior" musicians, lots of jazz, and some great bluesy-Caribbean twists on familiar tunes. Belinda and Chris (on Nahanni, from Whitehorse!) came with us, and we drank a bucket of Hairoun, and I won a fabulous prize on a scratch and win: A Blue Plastic Thing With A Yellow Straw! I'll be re-gifting this item for sure.

Bequia is one of those anchorages where boats dragging is a regular occurance. The holding isn't great - on the north side of the harbour, it's mostly beer bottles and coral rubble - and even where the holding isn't bad, the "Bequia Blast" can up and shift a lot of boats that thought they were well stuck. And then there's the charter boats. We watched one come in, drop the hook, and somehow end up steaming back the way they came, dragging their anchor with them and fouling the anchor of the Dutch boat behind them. They just barely avoided a collision by following instructions from the very upset Dutch lady. We'd just watch the fella from the Dutch boat take a bunch of kids to the beach, so when another boat zoomed over to assist his wife, we zoomed over to the beach to alert him.

As soon as we found him and told him what was going on, he hauled his dinghy back into the water - we'll watch the kids, I yelled, and off he zoomed. As he left I yelled "HOW MANY KIDS?"

Five blonde kids, between about 5 and 10. Randy and I spent the next half hour swivelling our heads around, counting "one...two...three, four......five, one........two, three......four......five,one, two,.........three...........four.....(panic, panic),..............five!" as they played around in the water.
Did I mention that they didn't speak English? Their dad was back as soon as they got the boat reanchored, but I felt bad for their poor mum - she was probably looking forward to a couple of hours of quiet and instead, she's madly hanging fenders and trying to fend off twits.

We really like Bequia - food, people, surroundings, all pretty wonderful. Saw a grey-bearded cruiser on the street wearing an "Old Navy" tshirt, modified to read "Very Old Navy." Rasta guys at the market are still pretty insistent, but the veg is gorgeous. Shopping accomplished, we picked up two slices of pizza and a hot baguette, 19EC, and were well pleased, but then had water delivered to the boat - 40 cents US a gallon. A bit of a shock, but we were empty, so it had to be done. Then, off to Carriacou.

Another great sail (I'm worried that our sailing on the way back up will be crap - payback for all this great beam-reaching on the way down) and in the next few days we took de bus to Hillsborough (cheapest wine is at Kim's Grocery) and saw Christine at Patti's Deli, still one of the prettiest women in the Caribbean, and JB from the Lazy Turtle was there too, so we caught up a bit. Had a visit with Clare at Lumbadive. She and I started our dive certification together two years ago, and while I've done nothing but float around with my snorkel, she's gone on to get her Dive Master. GO Clare. I'm so impressed. (She's young.)

Another great sail from Carriacou to Prickly Bay, Grenada. Unbelievable. And no barfing. First foray into town, and we were hailed seven times in a half-mile: "take de bus! You want de bus! take de bus!" some of the drivers were even going the other way.

Francis from F&G Metal Fabrication is putting together an estimate for the metal work to repair the bowsprit. After 40 years, the stainless is shot, and we've been putting it off. We're chewing away at the list of other clean/polish/paint/varnish items, and the boat is looking pretty good when it's not littered with bits of sandpaper and painty rags, filthy toothbrushes caked with metal polish, and pretty blue tape on most of the varnish.

Rowing daily. Meeting new people, seeing some old friends. Finally connected with Ann and Steve on Receta, very briefly - they left yesterday for Trinidad, but we hope to see them later in the season. Also Tony and Rosie on Norumbega, a most beautiful turquoise Hinkley, and I had a chat with Lorraine and Graham on Lorriegray and heard about their new grandson.

There, I didn't mention anything about sunshine or temperature.
See below for pics. (photos are too slow to post, so more when I get a better connection)

Free Web Counter