Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Trip To Windward - Boat Buidling in Carriacou

Tyrell Bay
As the famous Carriacou regatta approaches Sim and I thought we would take a trip over to Windward on the north east corner of Carriacou to see how the traditional work boats are made. These sailing sloops have been hand crafted with skills passed down from generation to generation, ever since the Scottish settlers arrived at the beginning of the 20th century.
Quaint little houses.
The bus journey took us through a part of the island we hadn’t ventured before.  It is undeniably beautiful with small little houses dotted amongst fruit trees and brightly coloured plants. You will not find any resorts on the island and many claim Carriacou to be one of the last untouched islands in the Caribbean.

Windward Beach
The bus dropped us off at the small fishing village of windward. The coastal road ran to the right of us and we could see the smaller islands of Petite Martinique, Petite St Vincent and Union Island to the north. It was a beautifully hot, clear, sunny day.

The building of a new sloop
The "Yard"
We strolled up the road, Sim stopping to look at different boats pulled up the black sand beach. There is no official boat yard as such; just a stretch of windswept beach with flotsam and jettison washed ashore. The hulls of boats are laid up on wooden piles and it’s hard to distinguish one yard from another. The bare bones of a new structure were laid up right next to a small pig farm. There was no evidence of any work going on at the time but it was interesting to see how the trees that had been felled had a particular shape that matched the shape of the frames. Apparently modern tools are not used, just a keen eye and plans marked in the sand. We had apparently just missed the launch party of a newly finished sloop the previous Sunday where a celebration gets underway with the slaughtering of a goat. We strolled along through the shallow waters chatting to the odd person here and there, passing mangrove trees and huge amounts of empty conch shells. There were all sorts of boaty bits lying around and Sim was sniffing around them like a boy in a sweet shop. It’s amazing what junk brings a smile to his face. But it was hot, very hot, only mad dogs and English men go out in the midday sun!. So we caught the bus back into Hillsborough and had a little lunch at a cafĂ© over looking the pretty harbour before heading back to Tyrell Bay and an evening on our new friends boat with Chris and Naury on “Darling Blue”.
The Pig Farm
The house next door
Masses of conch shells
The boatyard.
Sim with his leg through the padlocked gate!
Happy!  Its lunch time
View from the cafe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Days Drift By In Tyrell Bay

Tyrell Bay, Carriacou
We are anchored in the sleepy island of Carriacou, the sister island to Grenada. The days slip by, one day much the same as the next. We watch boats come and go and we wonder if we should move down to Grenada soon. Not much goes on here. We are keeping ourselves to ourselves; trying to save a few pennies towards the coming months. We know we should be getting on with boat projects but we feel in limbo, there is so much to do but we don’t want to turn the boat upside down when we still have one more sail to make this season. For some reason we can’t seem to tear ourselves away from here. We are anchored in a lovely spot that we call our swimming pool. The seabed is mostly weed except for where we are anchored. Under the boat the seabed is soft white sand, it looks rather like how I imagine the surface of the moon to look like. Although there is no reef to snorkel on, under the boat are Lesser electric rays some no bigger then my hand and others a foot or so long and Rock fish that I have never seen before. There are tiny weeny sand dollars the size of my thumb nail. We swim every day round and round in our pool. Most days we try and scrap the bottom of the boat to remove the furry green fuzz and barnacles from our hull. Since most of our crappy (yet expensive) Sea Hawk anti fouling has come off it has turned into a bit of a chore. We really need to haul out.

Giant Sea Monster!
We park our dinghy at one end of the beach and stroll to the other end. Past the pizza restaurant and the dive shop, past the piles of smelly conch shells and fishing nets laid out to dry and around to the small parade of shops and restaurants although some of them are fairly indistinguishable from houses, We enter the biggest store, about the size of an average news agent back home and a waft of stale food hits us. But that’s nothing unusual as most of these stores have a distinct smell. We hope we might find some meat other than chicken legs, thighs, backs and necks. Sim LOVES chicken thighs but there are only so many nights in a row that I can eat them. We are in luck; one of the chest freezers at the back of the shop has chicken breasts! We are very happy. We often wonder what they eat here other than chicken parts. Only the day before we had ventured into the main town of Hillsborough on the bus as the cat had run out of cat food and there wasn’t any to be found in Tyrell Bay - god forbid she misses a meal – all hell would break lose! The road weaved around the island past all the charming little huts and houses. Everything is covered in a small pink flower, an invasive vine; a weed, that is suffocating other plants but I think it looks pretty. Just as we arrive in town the heavens open and rain pours down – in biblical proportions. We try and take cover under a tree but it doesn’t offer much protection. A man in a wooden hut opens a door to us and calls us in. We are very grateful. It’s a barber’s shop/hut with one chair and a bench for waiting customers. Slashes of green red and yellow are painted on the wall. The man in the barber chair is obviously getting a trim as there is hair all over the floor. He has is back to us so we can’t see his face but he must have a beard as the barber hasn’t touched his extremely long dreads and he still has his hat on! Fancy that, getting a hair cut with a hat on.
Nets drying in the sun.
When the rain eases we hunt down the cat food, buy a load of fresh vegetables. We try to find some meat but once again all we come across were chicken parts – except for in Patti’s store but we find her a little expensive – the price you pay when you want imported goods it seems. As we walk back to the bus we pass a shop with brooms and plastic laundry baskets outside. Inside amongst other things they sell ovens and rucksacks plus two rows of food. At the back to the left there is a freezer and we can’t believe our eyes. For there, inside the freezer, is pack after pack of Lincolnshire sausages. We buy only two packs as we don’t have a freezer and go home very happy indeed. - Theres no need to leave when we have all we want here :-).

Smelly conch shells

Taking a stroll
C'est Moi!
View from our cockpit.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I'm A Cruiser Get Me Out Of Here

Pilot whale to the right of the picture
 As we sail across from Martinique to St Lucia dolphins and pilot whales swim in our wake, dozens of them. It’s a sight to see. St Lucia now is a familiar spot. We anchor in our favourite place where the holding is good and we can pick up wifi to the left of the channel into the marina and inner lagoon. The bay is huge, hotels line the beach with sun loungers and umbrellas set up outside. Small sailing dinghies are being hauled up the beach by kids at the sailing club and horses walk at the waters edge.

Reduit beach, Rodney Bay, St Lucia
After a week or so of walking on the beaches and meandering around the modern shopping centers (and after we managed to watch England lose to Italy) we have had our fill of the touristy Rodney Bay. We move down to the magnificent pitons that six months ago I climbed with Claire and Martin. It’s such a magical spot. In between Petit Piton and Gros Piton we take a mooring buoy and dive into the deep blue sea. The water is amazingly clear and we snorkel around the rocks and coral fans and through huge schools of small oddly shaped fish.
The Pitons, St Lucia
Its all so beautiful but we must press on sailing past St Vincent and the Grenadines all the way to Carriacou the sister island to the north of Grenada. We lave been lucky and managed to sail pretty much all the way. Grenada is where most of the cruisers in the east Caribbean will be hanging out for hurricane season.
By definition a cruiser is a person or thing that cruises. That’s what we do, we cruise. We cruise the high seas, going wherever the fancy takes us or more likely where the wind allows us. But how lucky we are.
We differ from the cruisers on cruise ships with their bags of duty free shopping, cameras, socks and sandals and Hawaiian shirts and even from those that race on yachts or sail on mega yachts. Our boats are our homes. Many of us live on them full time. We know we are cruisers because at least some of our clothing smells musky and has holes in, we still wear them and nobody cares. More often than not we don’t wear clothes at all. We crawl into a space 4ft x 10ft that we call a bedroom. We never, I repeat NEVER leave the tap running. All our lights are LED. The only shopping experience we get is a supermarket or a hardware store and they excite us (oh how times have changed!). Grocery shopping is an all day event. We wash ALL our laundry by hand (most of the time). We are attuned to all the small noises, creeks, groans and smells from the boat that let us know if anything is amiss. We wash in the sea. We collect rain water. 5200 or WD40 are the answers to everything. We haven’t watched TV in years. We read a LOT. And probably drink too much. Even I know what a multi-meter and a torque wrench are. Nothing is thrown out. Everything is repaired. We never know what day of the week it is but can tell the time of day by the sun is in the sky. Our world is in always in motion. And cock roaches don’t scare us!

Sometimes when we are worn out from lugging heavy water jugs about or our backs are bent from all our shopping loads, or we have seen one too many bugs or not got off the boat for days on end or our world is rocking relentlessly driving us to despair and the sun beams down so hot that there is no respite. I just want to scream…………………………

But the feeling never lasts; a cool breeze blows through the boat. The swell dies down and the boat stops rolling. The kitty’s eyes blink open as raucous sea gulls swoop down at the back of the boat. She stretches, rolls on her back, yawns and goes back to sleep – oh the life of a cat! Sim is busy outside cleaning the salt and rusty marks of our stainless. I think we will go for a walk on the beach later this afternoon to stretch our legs and then a swim in the sea to cool off and wash. Everybody is happy.
Rodney Bay
sailing dinghies, Reduit beach
The sun sets on another day.