Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Classic Spots in St. George’s, Grenada

S/V Trillium at the quay of Port Louis
Across the lagoon from Port Louis Marina is the Grenada Yacht Club where we had a fun and rather wild night with the fleet. It was a Welcome Drink event, followed by a subscription dinner and a lot of rum punch and crazy dancing! You would have thought these people had been too long at sea! Right! It was a really fun WARC event and some of the antics should not be publicized! Apparently, those of us who left early missed most of the “fun” so I can’t comment with first had knowledge! And I will leave it at that!

This is not a low rent neighborhood!
There were a number of fun nights in the marina as well. The Victory Bar & Grill had the best pizza! I think I had pizza every other day! Yolo was a good sushi restaurant – and it had a nice selection of cook food, too! I am known for wanting my protein cooked! I don’t ever eat it raw or “cooked” in lemon or lime juice, etc. I don’t want it looking transparent. And I never want to see it looking at me so all heads must be removed! I have accepted the heads and eyes of prawns and lobsters, though.

After a dinghy ride out of the lagoon past the Port of St. George's and into the area known as the Carenage, we explored the town of St. George's. Bob had spent time working on a yacht there when he was in college so we were off to find his old haunts! Following Wharf Road we found lunch at Sail Away Café. Apparently it has been remodeled recently, probably after hurricane damage, so he was pleasantly surprised. That is where Dennis ordered his Beer-arita. The margarita with a Corona inserted upside-down. You just lift the beer bottle a little and the beer joins the margarita. He said it was very refreshing and somewhat like a Shandy or another German drink. Their lobster wrap was delightful! I will go there again next year.
The fishing fleet in Port St. George's
St. George’s is built on a ridge, with the sea on one side, and the protected Carenage on the other. The houses are colorful and it looks neat and picturesque. The old brick buildings are capped with antique “fish scale tile roofs. Long ago when ships returned form delivering their cargo of rum and spices, they returned “in ballast” of bricks. And the streets are cobblestone, making walking in sandals a bit challenging. Plus the streets are hot from the sun.

It was very hot in the town area where we were searching for the Digicel store and the fresh market. I received frustrating news from the Digicel store as they said my three-year-old Samsung Galaxy was too old for their app! What – that was an expensive unlocked phone! I have been struggling with Digicel connections and can’t seem to get online for a hot spot. It will be back to Digicel as soon as I find another store.
Waiting for Neptune to arrive!
Back in the marina, the crew of S/Y Golden Dragon was preparing a special ceremony for those who had just crossed the equator. When we crossed it in the Pacific, we had our celebration and honored Neptune with champagne. This time we crossed it at 11:30 PM and I was alone in the cockpit. To celebrate, I wrote a note and put it in a wine bottle and tossed it overboard. I wonder if it will be found and if anyone with contact me if they do find it!

Look who is coming down the dock!

The WARC fleet was called to Golden Dragon at the appointed hour for Neptune to appear. We were told to dress appropriately for the occasion. Several speeches were given, special drinks were served to the tadpoles (first timers) and the pollywogs (second timers) and others. Certificates were handed out and good fun was had by all! This has been the most creative group of sailors ever and fun is always in the works. I believe much of the credit goes to Taffy and Brian and a few others. Thanks, WARC 2016-17 for taking us into the fold!

Pollywogs must drink from the cup! 
Following the final Awards Dinner at the Victory Bar & Grill, we began our free sailing period to explore our way north the St. Lucia for the final event. We will gather in Marigot Bay and dress the boats for the big Parade of Sail up the coast into the Castries and then to Rodney Bay on April 8th. Then it will be over!

And what is Mary Beth up to now!
Just the thought of it ending brings tears to my eyes. In many ways, I have had enough sailing. In other ways, I will miss our beautiful boat and all of the people we have met out in the world. There are others things we want to do in our retirement while we are still healthy so ending the adventure is the right thing to do. But it is not an easy thing to do! We will miss this wonderful group of people from all over the world. And I fear it will be lonely out on the waters next fall without them with us.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Grenada: A Very Interesting Island

A view of St. George's, Grenada from atop the mountain
We had another great WARC island tour with a very knowledgeable driver/guide. He was an environmentalist and stressed the importance of keeping the Caribbean pristine. It was obvious that the islanders don’t realize – or care about – what they are doing that is harmful. He also discussed the issue of HIV and the spreading of young men’s sperm without responsibility for the outcome. The result was a high percentage of fatherless children. Jobs are available but no one wants to work so they lay around. Very sad!

That's Victor, our Yellow Shirt, taking a jump!
On our island tour we visited the Concord Waterfalls in the St. John parish. I thought we were going to swim under the falls, but decided the air was too damp and chilly to be sitting in a wet bathing suit for the rest of the day. Quite a few of the others took a dip and some jumped off the cliff into the pool. Apparently, we were only at the lower third of the falls. It was a 20 minute hike to the second level and another two hours to the upper level.

Grenada is known as the Spice Island with nutmeg being their biggest crop. Most of their nutmeg is exported to Europe to be made into medicines. There was a cute spice shop at the falls so we bought some nutmeg and spices.

Bob checking out the cocoa beans

The most interesting part of the tour was the Dougaldson Estate, which is a working estate with buccans – buildings used for drying cocoa beans. There were huge wooden "drawers" that pull out from under the building to dry it in the sun.

They also grow and harvest cocoa and nutmeg there. The place is an institution and they should get it designated as historical so it won’t be torn down for development. The problem today is the lack of laborers to care for and harvest the crop. The young people don’t want to work because the government takes care of them.

Our guide gave a demonstration on several spices, how cocoa is processed and the history of the place. They grow many types of spices on the estate, but there is concern as to whether it can sustain operations. Of course, we bought some bars of chocolate and some chunks that you drop into boiling water, then add milk and sugar for hot cocoa.

While we were driving throughout the island, he pointed our various plants, trees and flowers. We visited the fresh water lake high in the mountain: Grand Etang Lake and Forest Reserve. (Etang is French for “big pond”)

It is actually an extinct volcano crater 1800 feet above sea level. It is said to be connected to Kick’em Jenny, an active submerged volcano located off the northern coast of Grenada. We will have to check to see how far off we need to be when we sail past it! Apparently, it has several areas of eruption in the sea.

One of the highlights at Grand Etang is the Mona Monkeys. Just take your bananas or mangoes with you and call “Wooo….Wooo….Wooo…” and the monkeys will come out at eat your gifts. Our guide had people stand next to the rail while he held the fruit. The monkey climbs onto your shoulders and grabs the fruit. Merc was brave enough to participate for the pleasure of the crowd. Thanks, Merc. I got great photos!

We passed several forts and historical points of interest with good commentary from the guide. One of the sites was The National Cricket Stadium, formerly known as Queen’s Park, It was the venue for the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup. The guide book said “It is frequently used for national celebrations, international sporting events and concerts.” Our guide said that is rarely used and is deteriorating just like so many Olympic Villages and sporting venues that are cheaply built, expensive to maintain and have no real use to the community once the event is over.  
My very brave friend, Merc!

Grenada will be an interesting island for us to explore more next season. It has many sandy bays and anchorages so it will be nice to slow our pace and hang out on the hook for tropical days and nights!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Back “Home” in the Caribbean!

St. George's, Grenada was a welcome site!
Well, we are sort of back home. We left the Caribbean in January 2014 to sail around the world for a couple of years. We are now in year four and have just reached the southern end of the Caribbean Island chain. We have not been this far down the islands in the past, so we are still exploring new anchorages and islands.

Heading to town from Port Louis Marina
The World ARC fleet completed its final leg in St. George’s, Grenada, West Indies. From there to St. Lucia for the final celebration and party, we have another free sailing period. This gives everyone time to explore the various islands on the way north to St. Lucia. Many of the boats will continue to sail from St. Lucia to Europe or the USA after we say our sad goodbyes. It will be a very emotional few days for all of us. 

The waterfront in St. George's
A number of boats will sail back down to Grenada to haul out for hurricane season. We are one of those. Hopefully, we will see many WARC friends in the Caribbean next winter. The plan is to take our time sailing back to Nanny Cay, Tortola, which had become our home base in the British Virgin Islands. From that point forward, we will work our way back to the Chesapeake Bay and put S/V Trillium up for sale in June 2018. That will be a bittersweet day as well as we end our five-year sojourn.                                                                                                                                                                          

For the present time though, we will continue to enjoy the journey and explore the rest of the Caribbean. Our WARC friends, Merc and Bob Cave from Chicago, who we met on the WARC 2014, joined us in Cabedelo, Brazil to sail the final leg. They had been on a catamaran, Vivo, until the owner decided to quit in Australia. We wanted them to finish the adventure with us, even though they had missed part of the crossings. If you haven’t been out here, it is difficult to share the connections and experience. 

Actually, Merc and I met over a glass of rum punch in Shelter Bay, Panama. Unfortunately for us, it was the bottom of the punch container and the gal filled our glasses very full. Not only were they big servings, but very strong as there was no more ice to dilute it. Needless to say more, we did a lot of talking! Most of it not to be repeated here or anywhere! But we became fast friends from that point onward around the world, sharing her birthday in Fiji and more. Dennis and Bob also clicked, so it was nice to have a couple we both enjoy as new friends.        

Our time in Grenada was at Port Louis Marina which is a wonderful marina. It was good to be on land again after a long passage with a lot of rain and fresh winds most of the time. We were not in the rallying mood and didn’t care about engine hours, so when the winds were light, we used the Iron Genny. Having spent most of the last three years sailing downwind, I didn’t find sailing on a close reach in big swell much fun!

Since Bob had spent some time in his youth working in Grenada on a boat, we took the dinghy across the bay to the Carenage and into the city of St.George's. Our first stop recommended by Bob (who wasn't sure it would be at all the same) was lunch at Sails. Great lunch. We all had lobster rolls. Delicious! We will be back again.

The most interesting is a drink Dennis just had to try: a Beer-arita! As you can see, it is a bottle of beer inserted upside down in a Margarita. You just lift the bottle a little and some beer flows into the glass. He said it was refreshing.

We found the tunnel that leads under the mountain to the main part of town. It is only wide enough for one car to pass with pedestrians clinging to one side. I guess they didn’t consider people might walk through it when it was designed. It was very hot in the town area where we were searching for the Digicel store and the fresh market. Tough decision to make: tunnel or stairs? NOT!

Then we headed off through the tunnel to find the city center. The only way into the city is on a road winding up the mountain and then down into the city or to go through the tunnel. The tunnel is interesting. The tunnel is only wide enough for a single car and it appears to be one way into the city. Pedestrians hug the left side of the tunnel wall to avoid being hit as they pass through single file. Of course, one could climb up the stairs on the water side and then down on the city side. 

We were off to find the local outdoor market and buy some fresh things for our trip up to St. Lucia. We had planned to stop in several anchorages where there would not be restaurants or stores. While colorful and filled with more spices than produce, the market was interesting, but not as wonderful as those in the Pacific Islands. Oh! How I miss those wonderful markets!

Of course, after a hot afternoon of shopping in the market and local sourvenier shops, we needed a refreshment before heading back to the dinghy. Bob knew the place to go! So we did.

It was one of his old stomping grounds as a younger man. Again, he wasn't sure what to expect, but we followed his lead to the classic bar known as The Nutmeg right on the wharf.

The Nutmeg is a classic hangout and was still very similar to the way it was a "few" years ago when Bob spent a lot of time there.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sailing Our Last Leg!

It is nice to have Bob and Merc onboard Trillium
The time has come to bring this big sailing adventure to a close. What could be better than sharing it with sailing friends who understand through experience in the World ARC! Merc and Bob from Chicago sailed the first half of the WARC on Vivo, a boat that stopped in Australia. Since they didn't get to complete their circumnavigation, we invited them to join us for the return to our starting point: St. Lucia. That was back in January of 2014!

The Marina Jacare did a nice job of hosting a huge group
for their first time. Good food. Good fun. And a translator!
Unless you have been part of the World ARC, it is hard to relate to those who have not been part of it. So it  was a perfect choice of crew to join us for the bittersweet sail "home." We will miss all of the wonderful people from all over the world met though sailing with the World Cruising Club's rallies. After all, we participated in three of them: 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17! S/V Trillium will be well decorated for the final Parade of Sails.

Having used a lot of energy in the heat while attending the three Carnivals in Brazil, we were all ready to be back on the water. Although, we were still running without a water maker so showers were not on our "do to" list. It can make for a grouchy crew from time to time - including me. Delta. Alpha. Mike. November.

There is always a boat project and often it is
a head problem! Not fun, but must be done.
Merc and Bob had carried a new high pressure pump to Brazil for us, but due to Carnival, we couldn't get anyone to install it! So once again, we loaded up on water at the dock and set off with limited use. We haven't been able to make water since Indonesia. Each country who tried to help us, only made the situation worse. In South Africa, the "best" engineering company actually blew the piston in the pump which was the final straw! It is dead! So a new one ordered in Chicago and came in their luggage.

Our trip north to Grenada was uneventful and a good sail. There were a number of squalls that doused us from time to time, but overall, it was a fine trip - sans showers. Merc was a great help in the galley and Bob proved to be a fine dish washer! Love them both!

What a catch! A 4.5 foot MahiMahi!
Probably the highlight of the trip was the huge MahiMahi the guys caught! It was 4.5 feet long! We ate on it for days and even gave some of it away. The freezer was having a challenging time trying to freeze, but it kept things very cold. That issue will be addressed in Grenada where they are to have competent tradesmen. And since S/V Trillium will be there all summer, they will have plenty of time to get everything ship-shape for next fall.

Merc managed to read a few books and snooze a little.
Of course, we crossed the equator again, but didn't do an outstanding celebration. I was on watch when we crossed around 2330 so no costumes and offerings to Neptune. I think we were all just anxious to get to Grenada. I did buy a crown at one of the carnivals and had planned to make it a big celebration, but ... Instead, I wrote a note and put it in a bottle and tossed it overboard at the equator. I wonder if I will ever hear that it was found by someone somewhere.

We were all looking forward to our arrival in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, but first we will enjoy our time in Grenada. There will be the usual parties, dinners, prizes and tours in Grenada. We so appreciate that the World ARC makes so many great arrangements for us on land. It takes the hassle off our hands and we always get to see the highlights of each landing location without the local ripoff artists bothering us. And the transportation is first class, as well, with knowledgeable guides.

As usual, the World ARC provided a great marina experience with rum punch welcomes and fun activities. It was the best rum punch I have ever had! But I haven't had it frequently so I might be a little biased. There were warnings: watch out to the rum punch as it goes down easily just before you do!