Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Weeks Worth of Weather

For weeks maybe even months we have had settled weather in Grenada. Occasionally it gets a bit rolly in Prickly Bay which lays open to the south. But for the most part we have had fairly benign weather; the odd squall with no more than 20kts or winds from funny directions, but nothing untoward. That was until this last week. We moved Alianna around to Saga Bay on the east of Hog Island in Clarks Court Bay. It’s quiet and peaceful, the water is flat and calm and pleasant to swim in, unlike the constant chop in Prickly Bay. We had amazing skies as the sun sets in the afternoon and a beautiful full moon at night. We had a morning up the mast when the seas were flat to re attach the lazy jacks (the lines that collect the sail when it falls) and to do a quick rig check.

Irie were in the bay with us and we had a nice breakfast together on Sunday, cooked by Sim who was showing them how the English did it (albeit a century ago). His menu included deviled kidneys (taken from the menu of the Titantic), black pudding, sausage, tomato, fried bread and pork jowls for a touch of something local. That’s pig cheeks to the rest of us! Despite the gruesome sound of the menu it actually tasted good even though it’s classic heart attack on a plate!! A few days later Irie had us over for dinner for a pasta and meatballs extravaganza which not only had huge tasty meatballs but several different types of whole sausages! Yummy- it was my kind of meal.

Then on Monday it rained like it had never rained before. Torrential amounts of water. It seeped in the windows and through cracks. It poured so much that because we had the dinghy lifted to one side, Alianna was heeled over slightly, our deep scuppers couldn’t cope with the overflow and water came gushing over the starboard side of the boat. Our water tanks were full and bursting at the seams. And still it continued to rain. We hadn’t seen rain like that in quite some time. Then we had the funky westerly winds which caused no bother to us in our cozy and protected bay. But at the same time a north swell arrived and we heard that boats where pitching wildly in St Georges while some even sank in the neighbouring island of Carriacou and Bequia. And finally yesterday when we were ready to hit civilization again we moved Alianna back around to Prickly Bay. But only just in the nick of time. A front passed over Grenada with strong gusty winds. Boats were pulling hard on their anchors, wind generators where howling and halyards banging. The VHF crackled into life as boats dragged anchor, people needed help, people warning others that unattended boats were dragging across the bay. For nearly 2 hours the radio was alive with allsorts of information and misinformation and the wind carried on howling – gusting 40kts and boats kept dragging. Some re anchoring while others went aground. It’s a scary feeling to have a force against you that can move your whole home against your will; especially at night while trying to avoid crashing into other boats or even worse rocks. Finally the wind abated and we had a settled and peaceful nights sleep grateful that our anchor held and in sympathy for those that didn’t.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Art of Doing Nothing

It has taken a long time to adjust to a life where I have so far been fortunate enough not to have to work. For the first couple of years we were busy fixing up the boat but there were still times when I would get that feeling of redundancy, not sure what to do with myself. Back at home in the UK meant working 5-6 days a week, leaving the house at 7.30am and getting back almost 12 hours later. Keeping on top of house chores, socializing, exercising and shopping for food; all had to fit into these busy days, there was never time to do nothing. So stepping aboard and having to fill my own time for over 7 years now has been quite a task. Especially as although we have managed without working our monthly budget is very tight with both of us living on less than a 1/3rd of the average English wage back home. So trying to fill your time with things that are low cost can be very challenging. Off course we always have the option of coming home and earning a living but for the time being we are both quite content out here.

Which brings us to what do we do all day long. Having an occupation at home is exactly that. It is something that fills your time (as well as bringing in the obvious income). After the novelty and necessity of working on the boat wore off I found myself in some of the most beautiful islands in the world. In the San Blas off the coast of Panama I had crystal blue seas, hundreds of deserted islands to choose from and yet I didn’t know what to do with myself. With no way to communicate with people back home. No shops and no cultures to explore ashore left me feeling listless. Books were read and bread baked. Whole days were structured around fancy meals from our limited stores. I remember lying on the sofa bored out of my mind in a tropical paradise feeling that life was passing me by. And so I had to teach myself to snap out of the reverie and learn to keep busy or enjoy relaxing without feeling guilty about it. It’s not easy to change your ways over night but slowly Sim and I have stepped down a pace. We try to embrace hobbies and learn new things. But we also like to keep busy. Sim likes to keep up to date on changing technologies in engines and other mechanical things. I like the more crafty side of things. We both like to explore the countries and cultures we are in. And we like to hang out with our friends; on each others boats, at the beach, on walks or in the bar.

This last week has kept us quite busy; Friday nights down the Tikki Bar, Saturday afternoon at a hash (aggressive walk) through forest and pretty countryside to the north of St Georges. Sundays have been spent on the beach with snacks while we dip in and out of the sea. Monday morning saw us doing yoga on the beach. Tuesday had us over to Peter Pan for cake and Caribbean coffee (add rum) and then to the Tikki Bar for quiz night. Wednesday shopping and lunch in town for the girls. In between all this Sim helps on peoples boats and I try to write. So once again I find myself thinking how lucky and privileged I am to be here and wonder what I will do with my time this afternoon.