Day 149, Year 6 Getting Ready for Take-off
Date: Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Weather: Totally Overcast with Rain; Wind E 15-20 knots
Location: Prickly Bay, Grenada
We are having some yucky weather, overcast with rain that just doesn’t end, but hopefully it will run its course and we will once again have blue skies and sunshine. In the meantime, we spent the day scurrying about getting ready to leave here. Mark and Steve did all of the scurrying while I stayed on the boat and worked on getting photos edited and ready to post. The day started with Mark and Steve heading to shore to go to the Blue Machine (ATM) to get enough money to pay Johnny Sails for our staysail and headsail repairs. They got the money and then walked back to Johnny Sails. Johnny then drove them back to Spice Island Marine with the sails. Once back on Windbird, Mark and Steve put on both sails and then headed back to shore to get our jerry cans filled with water. Back on Windbird we ate lunch, and then they headed back to shore to do the grocery shopping. Again, I stayed behind to work on photo editing and to do the prep work for dinner. When the guys returned, it was time to raise the dinghy motor, put the dinghy on the foredeck, and check the tie downs on everything. Once all that was done, we were ready for take-off in the morning. As I write this, we are still debating whether we will head north around the west side or the east side of Grenada and whether we will go a short distance tomorrow or try to make it all the way to Carriacou with a snorkeling stop on the way. Much will depend on the weather. But one way or another, we will be somewhere else by this time tomorrow night. Stay tuned for an update.
Day 148, Year 6 Tour of Grenada
Date: Monday, March 21, 2011
Weather: Partly Cloudy; Wind E 10-20 knots
Location: Prickly Bay, Grenada
After two weeks of being here and not seeing much of the island, we made up for lost time and saw the WHOLE island in one day. We met Howard and Judy of Laelia at De Big Fish at 8:30 am, waiting for our tour guide to arrive at 9 am. We thought we were going on a historical tour with Clemente Baptiste, but he never showed up and we didn’t have his phone number ashore with us in order to call him. So we ended up having Matthew, the taxi driver we have used a few times, take us on the island tour. It was a full day as he wanted to make sure we saw everything, and I really do think we managed to see most everything of interest on the whole island. I will outline what we saw, but first I’ll give the overall impressions. Grenada is an easy island to drive all the way around in one day. About a 100,000 people live here and most live along the coast, not inland. But living on the coast really means living on the side of a mountain heading down to the sea. Inland the island is a tangle of jungle and mountains. The road that rings the island runs along a cliff that drops into the sea. The only time the road dips down to the beach is when you come to a town, and there are not many of those. It is an island in bloom as there are flowering plants and trees everywhere. We visited a fort, a nutmeg processing plant, the cliff where the Caribs jumped off rather then submitting to the French, the oldest rum distillery in the Caribbean, a local boat builder, an organic chocolate processing plant, the old airport, and the oldest marina on the island. Then we came home and had Howard and Judy out to Windbird for dinner. Whew! What a busy, but fun day.
Our first stop was in St. George’s to see Fort Frederick. This fort sits high above the town of St. George’s and was built by the French in 1779. From here we could look down on the St. George’s, walk around to see the southern end of the island, and then walk to the eastern side of the fort to look out on the Atlantic. Our guide was a woman named Alice and she was so pro-American that it took us a bit by surprise. In 1983 when the Americans invaded Grenada, Alice was a young woman and she saw the Americans paving the way for freedom for Grenadians. The way she put it was that when Grenada dialed 911, the Americans answered, and she hopes that if Grenada would ever have to make another call for freedom that the Americans would be there to help. The views from Fort Frederick were fantastic and then from there we traveled north along the west coast to the Concord Falls. These were waterfalls high on the mountain. Here we could see nutmeg trees, avocado and mango trees, and beautiful red ginger plants. From there we went further north to the town of Gouyave where we visited a nutmeg processing plant. Nutmeg is so amazing. When it grows on the tree it looks a little like a peach without the fuzz. When it is ripe, the fruit opens and you can see the brown nut inside encased in a red maze of mace. Farmers take the ripened fruits from the trees, take off the outer covering, and then separate the red mace from the brown nut. They take this to the processing plant where they are paid $1.60 US per pound for the nutmeg nuts and $2.40 US per pound for the mace. The processing plant is definitely low tech but it does the job. From there we traveled to the northern most point on the island where in 1651 the Caribs jumped off the cliff rather than submit to the French. We then started our trek down the east side of the island and we toured River Antoine Rum Distillery. They have produced rum since 1785 and claim to have the oldest working water mill in the Caribbean. From there we went to Belmont Estates and see the organic chocolate factory. The thing we enjoyed most there was the shop where we could buy samples. We stopped south of the town of Grenville on the east coast to see a guy building local fishing boats. And then we made one last stop at the Grenada Marina on the south side of the island. It was almost sunset when we got back to De Big Fish in Prickly Bay. We had a great evening aboard Windbird having what I called a “southern” dinner-southern India curried spinach with diced tomatoes with southern West Virginia salmon cakes and fried green tomatoes. The greatest thing about the evening was the company with Judy and Howard of Laelia. They will be flying home to the US on Wednesday when we are heading north from here to the island of Carriacou. Tomorrow will be a day of “getting ready” so it is probably time to close down and get some rest so we can get our jobs done tomorrow.
Day 147, Year 6 Happy Spring!
Date: Sunday, March 20, 2011
Weather: Partly Cloudy with Periods of Rain; Wind E 10-15 knots
Location: Prickly Bay, Grenada
The full moon last night was beautiful, but the first day of spring here was full of gray rain clouds. There was plenty of sun as well, but we got wet on our morning walk to the Spiceland Mall. We went there to get coffee (How could I forget to buy coffee?) and Scotch-two survival necessities for Steve. We enjoyed the walk there, even though it was in the rain, but we took the bus back. I had hung out a laundry before leaving on the walk, and it definitely got a good extra rinse and is now hanging in the cockpit to complete the drying process. I made a key lime pie this afternoon (recipe copied below) and Steve helped by squeezing the limes for me. Mark worked on securing things on deck to get ready for our Wednesday take-off for the island of Carriacou. Tomorrow we are doing a historical tour of the island with Clement Baptiste and Tuesday we will do a little more touring and getting ready to go.
In the late afternoon we took off for shore to try and call Justin, Jo, and Ziggy. Today we took my computer to see if it would work any better than Mark’s did yesterday. And it did. We did not have the problem of being constantly kicked off the wifi network. Justin and Jo weren’t home but we did make contact with Mary Ellen and Lee. Yesterday Mary Ellen wrote to our blog saying, “In our minds we traveled with Steve yesterday . . . and we will be with you in thoughts.” We are sure missing having Mary Ellen and Lee here with us but we’ll do our best to share our daily travels with them through the logs and we will be thinking of them all the way. After our Skype call with Mary Ellen we walked over to True Blue Bay to have an early dinner at the Dodgy Dock. We ate here two weeks ago on the day of our arrival in Grenada, and we enjoyed it a second time today. I had the Caesar Salad with Cajun Fish (mahi mahi) and it was delicious. After enjoying our waterside dinner we hiked back to De Big Fish to try and contact Justin and Jo one more time. They were still not on line and did not answer the home phone, so we saw that Heather was online and we called her. She had just been on Skype with Justin but he had “disappeared.” We then learned that he, Jo, and Ziggy were in Borders in Santa Fe and we tried a three-way call. It worked for a few seconds but it became obvious that we were going to have to talk separately. So we called Justin, Jo, and Ziggy, and then we called Heather, Jed, Sam, and Jonah. We could see them, but since De Big Fish is not open on Sunday and there were no lights, they could not see us. But the little ones threw kisses our way and we enjoyed seeing them. It was fun for Steve to see them as well.
It was dark by the time we headed back to Windbird and we are now sitting here exploring the various possibilities for Caribbean stops over the next three weeks. Steve is as interested as I am in tracking down the best snorkeling spots, so we are looking forward to three weeks of in-the-water fun. Then we will arrive in St. Martin and have another week of fun in the sun with Steve and sister Jeanie. But first things first-we need to get ready for our Grenada island tour tomorrow.
Day 146, Year 6 Steve Arrived!!!
Date: Saturday, March 19, 2011
Weather: Sunny Day; Wind E 10-15 knots
Location: Prickly Bay, Grenada
It was a good day except for the fact that our internet connection was not good for our Skype conversation with Heather and family. We did get to talk with lots of interruptions, but the interruptions were so aggravating we didn’t try to make other calls. We spent the rest of the day doing the final “getting ready” for Steve to arrive and now he is here. We have spent the last couple of hours catching up. It is great to have him here. More details to come tomorrow.
Day 145, Year 6 A Little Exploration of St. George’s
Date: Friday, March 18, 2011
Weather: Sunny Day (morning rain shower); Wind E 10-15 knots
Location: Prickly Bay, Grenada
Grenada is the place that the US invaded in the 1980’s. Grenada has got hit really hard in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan which devastated the entire island. It is the smallest independent country in the western hemisphere, and according to the Lonely Planet, St. George’s, Grenada’s largest town, “has one of the most picturesque waterfronts in all of the Caribbean.” And today we enjoyed that waterfront.
But before exploring St. George’s, I’ll go back to the early morning. I had hoped to get the cockpit caprail varnished before heading to St. George’s, but an early morning deluge delayed the varnishing project. Howard and Judy of Laelia were planning to go into town with us, so Mark had to call and tell them we would be delayed. Once I was able to get everything dry after the short but heavy rain, I did get the varnishing done. We then called Judy and Howard on Laelia again and this time told them we were finally ready to head to town. We net at the De Big Fish and the taxi driver named Matthew offered to take us to town for $20 EC (Eastern Caribbean dollars) for the four of us. $20 EC equals $8 US. We said no thank you as we knew we could walk out to the main road and get a bus (mini-van) for $10 EC for all four of us. We started to walk on, but Matthew conceded to take us for the bus price. He’s a great guy and very knowledgeable about the area and he shared some of that information with us as we into town.
Matthew dropped us off near the cruise ship dock. There were two small cruise ships in harbor today, but he explained that they were too small to cause us major problems. When a really big cruise ship is in, it is best to stay away from town. We walked from the Esplanade Mall by the cruise ship docks to the public market and enjoyed the variety of fruits, vegetables, and abundant spices that are available here. I bought some limes to make Key Lime Pie and some green tomatoes to fry. Fried Green Tomatoes is one of our favorites. Grenada is known as the “Spice Island” with nutmeg at the top of the list and you can certainly smell and see the presence of spices in the market. After finishing our market visit we started walking back toward a deep bay on the east side of the downtown area. You can get there by climbing the steep steps up to the old part of town and then climbing back down again, or you can walk through the Sendall Tunnel built in 1894. The cars supposedly watch for pedestrians on the west side of the tunnel, but it is one-way, not very wide, and only seven feet tall. But we got through and found ourselves on the shores of what is known as The Carenage. This deep bay is where the passenger and cargo ferries hang out that head out to Grenada’s two small islands, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. We found the Ocean Grill Restaurant & Bar sitting out over the water and stopped there for lunch. Beef burgers are popular here and cost about $10 US a burger with fries. But the special today was Oil Down, Grenada’s food specialty which is stew of breadfruit, callaloo (spinach), pumpkin, dumplings, and some meat, all nicely spiced. Howard had this and shared it with all of us so we could get a taste of the local food. After lunch we started walking on around The Carenage, but it was mid-day and the sun was scorching, so we hopped on a bus to take us around to another bay called The Lagoon. This is the home of the Port Louis Marina, the Grenada Yacht Club, and Island Water World, the “other” chandlery on the island. Budget Marine is the chandlery at Spice Island near our anchorage area. We shopped long enough to realize just how much prices have increased since we left the US in 2005. We then hopped on another bus that took us to the traffic circle closest to Spice Island Marine. We stopped for a cold drink at De Big Fish and then got in the dinghy and head over to Prickly Bay Marina to pick up our filled LP gas tank. It was then back to Windbird and time to sand and varnish those Dorade boxes one more time. In the morning, I’ll do the last coat on the cockpit caprail and then we can ‘reassemble” Windbird for Steve’s arrival tomorrow night.
Mark’s sister Mary Ellen called us on the cell phone when we got back to Windbird this afternoon. She is doubtful that they will be joining us at any point in the next month, but they still have their return tickets from St. Martin, so we will remain hopeful. In the meantime, we are gearing up for our Caribbean cruise with Mark’s brother Steve. His sister Jeanie will meet us in St. Martin for a few days at the end of the month, so we are ready to cruise and enjoy these beautiful islands. And it is only 36 days until we meet our children and grandchildren in Puerto Rico!
Day 144, Year 6 Happy St. Patrick’s Day
Date: Thursday, March 17, 2011
Weather: Sunny with Rain Sprinkles in PM; Wind E 5-10 knots
Location: Prickly Bay, Grenada
We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by going out to dinner with Howard and Judy of Laelia and drinking a green beer to toast good old St. Pat. Before that, the day was once again work, work, work. I made another three kilos of granola while doing the deep cleaning of the galley. I saved the best for last as cleaning the kitchen is always the most difficult. But it is done. Mark worked all morning cleaning stainless and then he went in to De Big Fish in the afternoon to make some calls about possible future job opportunities. Yes, there is another life out there waiting for our return to “reality” and unfortunately making money has to be part of that reality. I guess we are going to have to learn to wear shoes again!
I finished my afternoon by putting another coat of varnish on the Dorade boxes, but I held off on the cockpit cap rail as it looked like it was going to rain. I varnished the Dorade boxes in the cockpit, but put them below on the dining table to dry, but the cap rail is totally exposed. And sure enough, as soon as I finished the last Dorade box, we got the sprinkles. It would have been just enough to ruin a good varnish job, so I’m glad I waited. I will varnish the cap rail first thing in the morning and then we are taking off for St. George’s. Tomorrow night you’ll get to read about something other than work.