Sunday, October 28, 2012

Back In The Grenada Groove

St Georges Harbour
We really enjoyed being anchored outside the lagoon in St Georges. Once we had found a sandy bit to get the anchor dug in, it was a comfortable and beautiful spot. Just to our left the colorful, shabby waterfront capital of St Georges wound its way up the hillside and to our right the huge white stretch of Grand Anse beach constantly beckened us. The water was clear and inviting. We spent days ashore shopping in town or hanging out in the yacht club (which has fast free internet when you buy at least a drink and great reasonably priced local food like Rotis or BBQ ribs and salad) or hanging out with our friends Sam and Jon on Imagine of Falmouth in Port Louis marina who had recently arrived back from a jaunt in the UK. It was great to see them again; we couldn’t believe it was six months since we had bid farewell in the BVI’s. St Georges is such a convenient location with supermarkets and chandleries with their own dinghy docks and everything so close to hand. It amazes us that having spent 3 hurricane seasons here we have only just realized how great it is. Every night we can watch the sunset over the horizon; something you miss when anchored in the more southerly bays. Thursday was Grenadian Thanks Giving and a public holiday; Grand Anse beach was packed with people enjoying the day off, we joined them frolicking in the sea and walking on the beach – such a glorious day.
Having fun on the beach
We have been to see yet another catamaran in Grenada Marine. This time a larger 42ft Lagoon, this is moving more towards the size of cat we can see ourselves living on but there is still something that is just not clicking. We have 63 storage lockers on Alianna including bookshelves and anchor lockers. Nothing in the catamaran category is coming anywhere close to this. As much as we feel a cat would be fun for a while, and are aware of the benefits of a boat that doesn’t rock we seem to be shifting our attention back towards slighty larger mono hulls. I recently read a blog calling the need/desire for a bigger boat, a disease. I think I would just call it lucky. We have lived perfectly happily on a 39ft boat for over 8 years and are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to make a change hopefully for the better. This is all we are trying to do. As in many ways Alianna is more then adequate and although I wouldn’t go as far as calling her perfect (lets be fair who, I mean what, is!), she sets the bar high. Our knowledge and understanding of what we want is 100% more than the first time around when we were so new to this cruising malarkey. It often amazes us how well our first choice has turned out.
Another boat yard visit
In the mean time it’s been a fairly busy and sociable week for us. We had a lovely dinner with Mikie, a friend of ours who is temporarily land based here at Phare Bleu marina – we will not mention what the three of us managed to do to a whole cheesecake. More dinner and drinks with Sam and Jon in Port Louis. On Friday we moved around to Prickly Bay for a night, stopping for a few drinks at the Tiki Bar. The winds were out of the southeast and a big swell was rolling in making the bay fairly uncomfortable again. Luckily we were moving on to the calmer waters of Clarks Court Bay whose reef strewn entrance protects us from anything but the worst of swells. Chris and Naury on Darling Blue had us over for a delicious BBQ on the back of their boat - a bright full moon lit up the clear night’s sky for a fabulous evening. We all agreed how lucky we are.
The light of the moon.
Afternoon dip

 My new pink noodle
Grand Anse beach

Sim playing with his noodle AGAIN!

Beautiful beach

Mikiie, Sim and whats left of the cheesecake!

Sam "Imagine of Falmouth" and Sim

St Georges from above.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Boat Shopping In Chaguarmas, Trinidad

The view from our slip

Our time in Trinidad passed in the blink of an eye.  With days of southerly winds we decided to stay in the marina and treat ourselves further while the unprotected anchorage in Chaguaramas became a washing machine ride.  We enjoyed the perks of free unlimited fresh water, ice, hot showers and a swimming pool – even a newspaper was delivered daily!  These common items might not seem special to landlubbers but to us, it was a treat. 
Crews Inn Marina
 Settled into the marina we got down to the business of looking at boats.  First stop was a Privilege 39.  We both liked this boat.  It was an ex charter version with 4 cabins and 4 heads, easy to convert into a work shop for Sim and apparently a laundry for me....but that was Sim's idea and not mine. It had many nice features.  We also looked at an Admiral 38 and a Kennex 38.  We liked the Admiral as well; the layout was right and it has lots of nice kit. Sadly we could see straight away it wasn't for us, despite the lightening strike most electronics had been replaced or repaired, so that was OK.  But we could see the floor lifting in the keels. This was enough evidence to prove the bad reputation that some Admirals have.  The Kennex isn't worth mentioning!  We took things with the Privilege a little further but in the end decided that this one wasn't for us.
 So the hunt continues. We walked around all the boat yards checking out the boats trying to see if any had ‘for sale’ signs on but there were none that took our fancy.  So with boat hunting done it was time to take care of a few jobs.  Friends in Grenada had asked us to check out a boat for them, so we went and visited a 72ft steel boat. This boat was pretty amazing; the stateroom was huge, with a massive double bed on one side and a sofa on the other.  The bathroom actually had a bath and a separate shower cubicle…sounds like my kinda boat!!  But steel work isn't really our thing, so we took photos and emailed them back to our friends.
Big cabins on a 72ft boat
 We enjoyed our time in Trinidad although it was short.  It’s easy to see why cruisers flock there.  With all the boatyards and marine shops and suppliers, any boat problems you have can be easily addressed here – there is a solution to everything.  We gorged on plenty of Roti’s, Sim especially fond of the “bloody disgusting” goat curry – amusing if any one has seen the Catherine Tate sketches. Despite the area being so industrial I saw huge turtles in the bay, rays leaping out of the water, parrots and plenty of Iguanas.  The latter hanging around the Roti hut causing concern as to whether the goat really was goat after all! We hung out with friends by the pool at Crews Inn where even the daily thunder and lightening storms could not break up our pool party.  The crazy drunk Norwegian in the slip next us was hugely entertaining with his public drunk rants and sexual innuendoes on the VHF radio.  I'm sure that others are not so easily amused though.
Iguana enjoying a bit of Roti bread!
 Finally it was time for us to leave and head back to Grenada.  Another night sail but this time we were screaming along at well over 7kts with more wind than forecasted.  We arrived in the middle of the night so decided to head around to the wide open anchorage of St Georges. Here we could drop the hook without worrying about shallows and reefs and if we did drag it would only be out to sea.  At 4am with the anchor down we sat in the cockpit for a well deserved tot before we finally threw ourselves into bed.

more hungry Iguanas

Vegetable Roti for me! 

Buss Up Shot - another roti variation
By the pool, in the rain
Pretty flora

The Oil Rigs

Night sailing

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Trip to Trini!

Fair winds and not quite following seas
Last week Sim and I finally decided that we would make the trip to Trinidad to see a few boats we were interested in. I have to say that I was fairly apprehensive about this night sail. What with the numerous nightly thunderstorms we have been having; the oils rigs we would have to pass and the ever present threat from a Venezuelan pirate attack combined with the lack of sleep you always get on your first night at sea – I was a little anxious. Add to that the Chaguramaus shuffle – the notoriously bad deep anchorage which has variable holding and is littered with all sorts of rubbish like washing machines and spare tires to snag your anchor and the severe lack of mooring balls for this popular destination…….and the fact that you have to go straight to the customs dock for clearance procedures before you do anything else. I was a little uneasy.
Beautiful sail

But as it turned out it was another beautiful sail. We left Grenada around 4 pm in the afternoon, set up the sails and let Alianna do her thing. Sim and I sat back and enjoyed the ride. Now I think I have mentioned on numerous occasions that I hate sailing to windward but ease the sails a little and take her slightly off the wind and it’s glorious. Sim and I talked about what we would do in the unlikely event we were attacked by pirates – and it should be noted it’s been well over a year since the last attack, so I was probably over-worrying. As much as we would like to defend our castle we both know that it would be far more prudent to be compliant, but if the opportunity arose we would try and alert attention to other ships in the area. We re-familiarized ourselves with all our flares. Leaving a couple handy incase we need to alert attention and even practiced firing the flare gun into the sea.
Sun setting at sea
With all that done we watched the sunset over the horizon and storm heads brew in the distance. We sat outside for a while in companionable silence admiring the star filled sky until we settled into watches. The oil rigs could be seen over 20 miles away. With the AIS receiver we were able to identify all the big shipping traffic in the area, calling them up by name when we were on a collision course to ask if they had seen us (which they hadn’t!). It was a clear night all the way. I could see lightning in the distance but we didn’t get a drop of rain. When the moon rose, the night became so light it was almost as if it were daylight but in black and white.

Good Morning Trinidad!
Despite the light winds we coasted along at 4-5kts and made good time. We arrived at the entrance to Bocas de Mono around 10am and made our way into Chaguaramas. Chaguarmas is a large industrial shipping centre. Huge tankers and barges lay at anchor waiting for work to be done. But the area is also a national park in the hilly end of the island. Behind the rusty sea faring works are hills of tropical green. Pelicans sit on every available post. Frigate birds swoop down at the back of your boat and the aptly named kisskadees wake you in the mornings with their song. Ali de cat is not allowed ashore here. As we have tide into a marina for a few days “holiday” we have covered the cockpit with netting so she can’t get out. She seems to resent this confinement to the boat but when the parrots fly over head she is easily distracted with kakaka-ing – if only she could catch one!

On our way in to Chaguaramas

Now its down to business and time to look at boats.
A comfy sail to Trinidad
Taking it easy!

Ali pops out sniffing air - she can tell we are somewhere new.

Haul out for big boats


Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Slow Hot Week

Impressive sky in Prickly Bay
It’s been a slow hot week in Grenada. In fact it’s smokin’ hot. Today a gentle breeze blows through the boat but this is a treat. Except for the odd wind in squalls it’s been hot and muggy, the air almost hard to breathe. And we are constantly dripping in sweat! Nice! In the evenings small storm cells roll in with incredible cracking thunder and impressive lightening displays. A glorious full moon lights the night skies when it’s not shrouded in cloud.

Beautiful full moon.
 During the oppressive days we potter on with little jobs. We meet friends for lunches, shop or do laundry; all these are day long events. Sim managed to get hold of the wood we needed to repair the bowsprit trims and has made a start on that. But it is hot work out in the sun. We made a little sun cover for him on the bowsprit out of an old piece of sail. Every afternoon we jump in the sea for a cooling respite and swim to the beach and back with our blue noodle – a 5ft blue foam tube so that dinghies whizzing by can see us. These trips are a token gesture towards a little exercise in this unforgiving heat, blemished only by the sighting of small brown, ugly looking jellyfish; who knows if these little suckers sting. The roll in Prickly bay comes and goes. As soon as we can bare it no longer and think about moving it abates and all is calm again. 
Lance Aux Pine beach at Prickly Bay.
 As the heat has turned up a notch, the hunt for a new boat has cooled as we scour our favourite websites to see what new stuff has come on the market. All this boat searching has lead to a new appreciation for “Alianna”. All the things I found troublesome and annoying we have finally fixed now that we are selling her! She is not only looking good but I have come to realize what a home she has become to me. I feel safe within her strong, sturdy confines. A safe haven and a place of sanctuary that is oh so necessary when you are miles and miles from your home and constantly on the move. She is not just a boat but someone who has been my friend and protected me. We have sailed in many uncomfortable conditions where the wind howls and the seas are huge. As large walls of water bear down on her I’ve waited to be engulfed by a mass of water only to find her callipygous stern gently lifted as she rises over the top of it. Will I find this comfort in a new boat? I now often find myself sitting inside her cozy interior wondering if there can be a more well thought out boat. Where the galley is so ergonomic with everything in easy reach; and Sim and I can both squeeze in to stir our own food on “separate dinner nights”. And the two separate living areas in the saloon and the pilothouse. We seem to have our minds set on a catamaran at the moment. But is the trade off between not rolling at anchor and not heeling when sailing worth the lack of living room especially for someone who doesn’t spend much time in the cockpit? I guess we just have to keep hunting until we meet a boat that fits our criteria….
More impressive skies!

 Even the kitty has conched out!!

Sunset from the Tiki bar.

Tiki bar.

Taking a break!

Keeping watch.