Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cat or Mono & The Great Old Debate

Cat or Mono?
Since the great hunt has begun for a new (old) boat, Sim and I have had great fun pouring over websites, picking out boats that we like and even going to see a few that are available here in Grenada. Having lived on board (a monohull) for over eight years you would think that we have some idea of what we are looking for, but now that we have this opportunity to change, we have come against that age old argument…… should we go cat or mono? And quite frankly we are finding it hard to decide. You see the thing is, on Alianna we have huge, HUGE amounts of storage and cubby holes, nooks and crannies. Not only that but as well as having the saloon, we have the pilothouse to hangout in as well. When you start looking around at cats in the 35-40ft range it’s all well and good having four cabins but what good are they when they are just empty spaces. I need lockers and storage for all my hoards of belongings that have accumulated over the years. We are not out here for a vacation, our boat is our home. We have STUFF and we want to put it away and out of sight. Which brings in the whole not loading a cat down issue. Not only does it have to carry all the necessary gear to make and keep a boat safe but we need to carry all we need to be self sufficient, along with all the other useless and sundry items that we can’t bare the live without. Plus I need a sofa to lie down on! My favourite thing to do in the morning is to jump out of bed and promptly lie back down again with a cup of coffee and my emails to contemplate the day. Many of these cats have these tiny good for nothing curved sofas. So it seems that some of these cats that the budget affords are not really offering anything greater or in some cases even similar, in terms of living space. The galley areas are pretty poor but maybe that’s just the cats we are looking at. I’m not particularly bothered about seeing out of the windows and would be more concerned with keeping it cool inside. So does that mean I am ambivalent towards a catamaran? Maybe. But as I vehemently dislike beating to windward in a monohull and a rolly anchorage has to be akin to Chinese water torture at times then the appeals of a catamaran start to shine through. But these are just my feelings. Sim sleeps like a baby through almost anything and takes like a duck to water in most sailing conditions. His keenness for a catamaran must date back to his competitive racing Hobie cat days as he keeps muttering what fun it would be. I don’t doubt it for a minute. The whole idea of living on a cat is almost alien to me and that very concept in itself is very appealing – it’s exciting to learn new ways again. They say a change is as good as a rest! Plus the idea of my own heads! (oh the joy) and not only a separate cabin but a whole hull for guests is very attractive. We have only seen a small variety of catamarans so far– a couple of different lagoons which are not really my style especially the newer ex charter variety, a lovely Admiral 38 (with fab galley) which is not for sale but belongs to someone we know who let us have a look around and a very nice, turn key but beyond our budget Nautitech 395. Sim is keen to have a look at an older Privilege 39 as they are supposed to be pretty strong boats

However on the other hand for the money we could buy so much more of a monohull! Still with more heads and cabins and a decent galley and way more varieties available for sale.

So how on earth do you make a decision about which way to go; toss a coin maybe? Sim has drawn up an excel sheet so we can grade boats accordingly. I think it’s a great idea and hopefully that will work for Sim. But as with all things in life I tend to lead with my heart and not my head so I suspect I will just know if the right boat comes along......

Alianna - A good old boat!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Honeymooners

The Newly Weds
The last week has been spent enjoying the company of Kristin (my old school friend) and Ross while they were on holiday here in Grenada for their honeymoon. When friends and family visit us for a holiday regardless of whether they stay on board with us or in the comfort of a hotel, it feels like a holiday for us too. We do things we don’t usually do, go to places we don’t normally visit and eat out in places we wouldn’t normally frequent. This visit from Kristin and Ross was no exception. The newly weds were staying in the gorgeous True Blue Bay Resort the perfect place for a honeymoon (or even a wedding as its where Sim and I got married almost 3 years ago). We didn’t want to encroach on their loved up time too much but met almost daily for lunches or dinners, day sails and BBQ’s or simply to get ice creams or smoothies.

Mourne Rouge Bay
We took them for a sail around to Morne Rouge Bay, a secluded spot that other boaters don’t visit; we jumped in the sea, frolicked on the beach, ate ice cream and dug holes in the sand for the baby bump to lie in. I joined them at their hotel for a cooking class (also attended by other cruisers who now flock their in their masses as part of the weekly events taking place in Grenada). We cooked Roti (which is an all time favourite – curry wrapped in flat bread), we even got to eat a “here’s one we prepared earlier” by the comical chiefs who are thriving on all the cruisers attention. Needless to say I was left defeated by the scrummy BBQ we had later on Alianna.

The Comical Cooking Class
On Sunday we met up and went to The Aquarium, a favourite spot of ours for the Sunday BBQ and live band. The setting is idyllic; tables are set almost on the beach with views out across the bay to St Georges. It has a Mediterranean feel to it with large black rock boulders decorating one end of the bay. When you feel like taking a dip in the sea to cool off from the stifling heat make sure you are wearing a mask so you can snorkel on all the rocky outcrops, coral fans and colourful fish that dart about under the water. As the sun starts to dip in the sky a band pipes up playing Bob Marley covers and other soothing Caribbean classics as the evening is limed away.

The Aquarium
Their last few days have flown by despite being very chilled. We met up for meals at the Tiki bar, De Big Fish or the Dodgy Dock, walked into Grande Anse for fresh fruit smoothies and chilled by the pool at True Blue Bay Resort. But all good things come to an end and it feels that almost as quickly as we have said “hello” it is time to be saying “goodbye”. Last night we watched as their plane flew over head on its way back home. Hope you had a great honeymoon Kristin and Ross. Until the next time my friend………..
Old school buddies!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

St Georges, Grenada

I love the small town of St. Georges that is the capital of Grenada. It is a busy working waterfront surrounded by low green hills and clusters of buildings and houses. It is always busy with fishing boats or party boats moving in and out of the harbour unloading their wares. The hustle and bustle of the town is filled with an eclectic mix of streets with shops that sell a mish mash of odds and sods. For example in the fabric shop you can buy avocados and in the clothes shops you can buy cleaning products or anything else that the owner thinks might sell. The steep streets that have you huffing and puffing up and down them have some wonderful views across the town. Street vendors have walls lined with dodgy DVD’s and the fruit and vegetable market sells a huge array of produce. The tourist stalls are filled with wonderful little packages of curry spices, herbs and locally made jams and a variety of arts and crafts.
The whole town has a rustic run down feel to it and yet it is a happening and colourful place. Locals’ hangout on street corners peddling local fruits from buckets. Little ladies at the market sit under umbrellas, uniformed school children run around and the police walk their beat. It feels a safe and comfortable place to be and despite the unbearable heat I always enjoy a trip into town. Last week Naury from “Darling Blue” and I took a trip from Clarks Court Bay into town; the bus winding through small villages, passing roadside vendors selling char grilled corn and small groups of men gathered around rickety tables playing dominos. I love these bus journeys especially when we are not packed in like sardines. I never tire of seeing the Grenadian countryside.

This weekend we left the comfy confines of Clarks Court Bay to move back around to the rolly Prickly Bay for the grand arrival of my dear friend and newly weds, Kristin and Ross who are lording it up in the Tower Rooms of the lovely True Blue Bay Resort where we look forward to spending some time with them.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dinghy Concerts, Blue Moons and Beach Parties.

Dinghy Concert, Clarks Ct Bay
There is always something going on in Grenada, especially for cruisers who flock here in their masses during the hurricane months. Dominos, poker, cricket, salsa, yoga, walking, hashes (of the running and walking kind), trivia nights, movie nights, live band nights, jam sessions, cooking classes, a weekly beach lime and live band on an uninhabited island, book swaps. The list goes on and all these are just the weekly events. Then you have monthly events and special events.
Local Grenadian Band
The highlight of this week has to be the dinghy concert preformed live by a Grenadian band called Kay and Energy Vybz on the back of an old barge. Basically you just turn up in your dinghy and tie on to the boat in front of you. Either bring your own beer and snacks or dinghy hop over to the floating bar where beer is sold for $5EC which is less than £1.20! They preformed covers like that Gnarls Barkley classic 'Crazy' as well as some local Grenadian songs and a bit of Bob Marley. Everyone has a great time. Kids jump in and out of the sea and then everyone goes on their bonny way home. Only this time it was also a “blue moon”. For those that don’t know - a blue moon is a second full moon in a given month. These don’t occur very often and the next one isn’t until 2015. Hence the old adage “once in a blue moon”. So when the concert finished we moved over to Rogers Beach bar for a “blue moon” party. Rogers beach bar is the very authentic ramshackled hut that serves beer and rum on the beach of a small island called Hog Island. There are no facilities here. The booze and food are bought in by boat whenever the bar is open, dinghies line the beach as people arrive. If you need to pee you have to go and find a suitable tree/ bush, although I do believe there is a preferred area but I could be wrong! There is always the sea! We had a lovely evening catching up with people while a “blue moon” shone happily down on us.
Hog Island Blue Moon Party
Meanwhile another monthly boat jumble has been and gone. Sim and I actually managed to sell or give away some things we have been clearing out without buying more stuff to bring back to the boat; a major success in our eyes! And as it was a Sunday it was back to Hog Island to chill out on the beach for the afternoon with friends. 'Tis a hard life we lead.

Dinghies line the beach at Hog Island

Mikie and Chris at Hog Island

Local Grenadian dish "oil down" cooked over a fire
Woburn Clarks Ct Bay.