There is a lot one can say about this sailing lifestyle. It can be breathtaking, scary, frustrating, inspiring and, yes, downright crazy at times. For us, one thing it has never been is boring. There is always something new or interesting that pops up, usually out of nowhere. This week it was a Ladies Tea Party. Huh?
I never thought I would have to be searching about the boat, looking for the perfect tea party outfit, especially not once we got to the Caribbean. But, yup, that is exactly what I was doing earlier this week. Lisa from the boat “HaHaLua” had organized a tea party on Tuesday for 30 of her friends at the grand Tower Estates in St. Paul’s, about 30 minutes from our anchorage. But this was no ordinary tea party. No, the theme was “blue” in honour of the Blue Pea Butterfly Flower tea that we would be tasting at the Tower Estates. I was very intrigued.
The morning of the tea party, all 30 of us ladies and girls piled into four air-conditioned vans and headed to the estate. Air-conditioning? Oh, wow, today we were getting spoiled and it could not have started off better being that the day was targeted to top off at 34 degrees Celsius with absolutely no breeze.
As our van rounded the top of the hill leading to the estate, the beautiful Tower Estates building came into full view. Built in the early 1900s, the estate features a Great House on five acres of land filled with gorgeous fruit and spice trees, as well as stunning flowering plants of all colours. Speaking of colour, our “blue” theme was definitely in full bloom. Every attendee wore blue from head to toe, the estate was decorated in blue and our event organizer Lisa even handed each of us a pretty blue fan to complete our outfits. All this blue was incredibly decadent!
After a quick meet and greet, we were treated to an interesting and breath-taking 45-minute tour of the estate grounds. On a less hot day, it was easy to imagine lingering about the scented trees, watching the birds and butterflies flit amongst the bright foliage. But not today! We were happy to escape the heat outside and to start our tea party within the fan-cooled spaces of the Great House.
Back inside, all the ladies were seated in the main dining room at one very long table. Ladies in summer dresses with their hair coiffed, sitting prim and lovely in front of a proper tea party table setting. My, my. It was quite the culture shock for us merry band of sailors! We are more usually found in our natural habitat: sitting in a salt-caked cockpit with sweat soaked shorts and tank tops and hair thrown messily in a top knot while eating directly out of a plastic mixing bowl. Yes, sailing is this fancy!
To start things off, we had a few fun “get to know ya” games organized by Lisa, and then it was tea time. Of course, there were a few nibblies – cucumber and cheese sandwiches, deviled eggs and really melt-in-your-mouth sweets but it was that Blue Pea Butterfly Flower tea that really hit the spot. It was delicious and, yes, very blue! The star attraction did not disappoint!
Our day at the Estate ended in the mid-afternoon and we were all back at our boats by early evening. It was a wonderful break from the boat, from boat-y life and also a really great chance to connect with all these other female sailors, some of whom I knew well, others I had met just a few times and several who I had the opportunity to meet for the first time. It was a delightful day with just the gals!
And what was Mike doing while I was living my high society day? He and Barry were on Wild Horses installing our new high-powered solar charge controller, replacing the three smaller (less powered) ones we had added to Wild Horses just three years ago. Our old charge controllers were working okay but we were losing a little bit of power through their set up. Having one big controller (instead of three smaller ones) means more efficiency but also the ability for us to expand our solar array in the future. More power is never a bad thing on a boat!
Besides tea parties and improving our boat’s power grid, we are trying to stay cool. This past week has been a hot one (34 degrees C every day) with very little wind to cool things off. Thankfully, we are able to sleep at night with the temperature dropping to a tolerable 27 degrees C. During the day, we rest in the shade and cool off in the water. Oh and a cold beer (or two) at the end of the day helps a little bit too 😉.
Click the buttons below to see where we are today and where we plan to sail next winter!
Our little crew of three got a real treat last Sunday when we volunteered at “Jenny’s Open Farm Day” to help raise funds for the GSPCA (Grenada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). It will be a day that will remain dear to us for a long, long time.
The Jenny of note is our market lady. A lovely, sweet sliver of a lady who loads up her small car with her fresh farm fruit, vegetables, eggs, ice creams, yogurts and juices and drives the half hour from her home to the southern Grenadian anchorages. Three or four times a week she makes this trip and it is easy to see why so many cruisers line up well in advance of her arrival at any of her markets. She charges very little for her wares but the quality is top notch.
It was at one of these markets, about a month ago, that Jenny talked excitedly about the annual GSPCA charity event she would be hosting at her Farm on September 17. The Open Farm Day was an opportunity for her to raise some much-needed funds for the GSPCA while also showcasing her little farm which houses eleven rescue dogs, two rescue pigs along with a rescued donkey, several chickens and lots of fruit trees and gardens. This year, she explained, the event was very special as she was hoping to raise enough money to get an MRI machine for the GSPCA. Everything was already starting to get organized for the event but she was needing a few volunteers to help out with set up duties on the day of the event. Would any of the cruisers be interested?
Yes, please! Mike and I happily signed up as did a few other cruisers, including our friends Andre and Joane on That’s It.
The morning of the Open Farm Day, five of us volunteers, plus Ocean, arrived at Jenny’s farm with the full eleven dog welcoming committee receiving us. Several more volunteers arrived after us, carrying along sound system equipment, BBQ fixings, beer and many other “we’re having an event” bits of gear. After a quick tour of Jenny’s beautiful two-story open-air home, we got to work.
Sound systems were set up, the BBQ was put in place, and a big tent erected. Mike and Andre fixed Jenny’s back stairs while Joane and I put up hammocks, filled dog water bowls, washed dogs and generally helped out where ever there was a need. Truly though, Joane did the bulk of this work as I was trying to wrestle Ocean along with me through each errand, which really slowed me down. You see, although all the other dogs were running free, we really wanted Ocean to stay on her leash. Our concern? The multitude of free-range chickens mulling about. Unfortunately, Ocean’s sordid past includes one dead chicken and we have no desire for her to become a repeat offender. We were also very wary of Betty. Ah, Betty, a gorgeous and amped up little pig who was thoroughly convinced she was a dog and who really took a shine to Ocean. Still, Ocean can be intense with her dog play so she stayed on-leash. We were worried that an off-leash Ocean would be too much dog for Betty and cause this little piggy to go wee wee wee all the way home. 😊
By noon the Open Farm Day attendees began arriving in droves. For four hours, they enjoyed some great entertainment (songs and comedy), a silly dog show with prizes, a few ad hoc presentations and a great BBQ with free-flowing beers, water and rum punches. Smiles were everywhere!
At the end of the day, the volunteers stayed to help clean up and, finally, with Jenny’s encouragement and assurance that all would be fine, we let Ocean off-leash to properly meet Betty the pig. Well, they got along famously. They romped together, grazed together and, tired from their antics, rested alongside each other. And those free-range chickens? Ocean just walked right on by them without even a glance. Wow.
Exhausted from a full and muddy day at the farm, the remaining volunteers and attendees loaded into the last bus back to the anchorages. There was lots of chatter and laughter, fueled by a fun day and a few leftover beers. All in all the day was a major success. The event raised enough money for the new MRI machine for the GSPCA, Mike and I got to enjoy lots of laughs with many cruisers and locals and Ocean made a new best friend. Hmmm, could a play date on Wild Horses be in the cards for Ocean and Betty? Yikes!
See where we are today (and where we are going next) by clicking the buttons below!
We have met a lot of people doing what we are doing. Or, sorry, one small but important correction - we have met a lot of people living on boats long term. You see, although on the surface we all seem to be doing the same thing (i.e. living aboard in exotic places), we are all essentially snowflakes. The most obvious “same but different” element is the boat. The word “boater” is so general - we are on sailboats, motorboats, catamarans, monohulls, big boats, small boats, expensive boats and, yes, boats that look like they are about to sink. And then there are the actual people themselves, and their choices, which really tell the story. We come from different countries, took different routes to get here, we travelled alone, or with buddies, and our future boating plans vary wildly. There is always something to talk about, and learn, when you strike up a conversation with a fellow boater.
As we near the end of hurricane season, the question that pops up most often these days is “Where are you going next?”.
Some people are headed west towards the Panama Canal, others are going south to Trinidad and Tobago, many are headed back up north, some are planning Atlantic crossings and a few are staying put in Grenada. These content souls have boat work to finish up, family visiting or they just have fallen in love with the island and are happy to stay a bit longer.
Whichever direction they are going, boating plans seem to fall into one of two camps. People are either “continuing” or “returning home”.
Several of our boat buddies had set agendas for their boating trip. The plan was to sail south to the Caribbean and then head home. Back to their houses, cars, family, friends, and even to careers. This was a trip of a lifetime and may even be one that they repeat sometime in the future.
For us, this is not a one-year gig. We are doing the travel thing indefinitely, whether it is on a boat, in an RV or some other method of travel we haven’t even thought of yet. Right now, it is on a boat and we are loving it. We are “continuing”.
But when people ask us “Where are you going next?”, we are a little less definite. We know we will be headed north, back up the eastern Caribbean island-chain but where we turn around, or “if” we turn around is less clear. This year, we have less of a schedule. We have the freedom to go as far and as fast as we choose, with the only certainty being that we need Wild Horses to be safely sitting in a hurricane-sheltered spot by next June. That could be Grenada or Luperon in the Dominican Republic or even in a hurricane hole in the United States.
That is a decision we will make sometime over the next several months.
Our plans for our time in Grenada are more solid. We are getting Wild Horses ready for our trip north to St. Vincent & the Grenadines, which will happen in just over a month from now. We have a few boat spares and upgrades getting delivered to the island, and our new high-powered solar charge controller will get installed next week. We have renewed our Grenadian cruising permits and visas to mid-November and we have a list of tasks that need to get done before we depart the country – for example, Ocean’s paperwork, another boat bottom cleaning, servicing the dinghy, and also installing our new navigation light which was broken during Tropical Storm Bret. We even have a list of “cheaper in Grenada” things to stock up on before we leave this great island.
But don’t worry, we are also fitting fun things into our days, including exploring more of what Grenada has to offer. This weekend we have a great opportunity to explore a local farm that is having an open house to collect donations for the Grenada SPCA. Oh, and it is football season so catching a few college or NFL games with our boat buddies is also on the menu. 😊
Following along with our travels? Want to check out where we are and where we will be next? Click the buttons below!
Oh gosh, another crazy week! Our days are getting a little busier now that we only have about six more weeks left in Grenada. We will be heading north to the island of St. Vincent once hurricane season is over, about November 1.
First up this week was renewing our Grenada cruising permit. Most islands in the Eastern Caribbean require you to maintain a valid cruising permit while hanging around in their territorial waters. For Grenada, the monthly cruising fee is $75 EC (Eastern Caribbean Dollars) which is equal to $38 CAD. Not a bad deal considering it is our only “rent” cost since we can anchor Wild Horses for free. The only down side to renewing our cruising permit is the process of getting to the Customs Office, which is at the Port Louis Marina, about two hours away on foot. To get there, we can get a taxi for $80 EC ($40 CAD) or we can take the city bus for just $2.50 EC ($1.25 CAD). Awesome! City bus it is 😊. We dropped Ocean off to be babysat at her favourite boat, Caretta, and headed off to the bus stop.
Oh, what an adventure. There are no bus routes close to our anchorage so we had to dinghy around the bay to Woburn, 10 minutes away. Catching the bus is straightforward. You just stand outside Nimrod’s bar and wait for a van that has a big “2” on its windshield. Don’t worry about which direction its going, the route runs in a big circle so you will get to your destination either way. Okay, interesting. But it worked. We caught the bus and twenty minutes later we were at St. George’s Inner Harbour. After getting off the bus, we had a lovely ten-minute walk along the waterfront and, voila, we were at the Customs Building at the Port Louis Marina. Easy!
After renewing our cruising permit, we decided to do some shopping. We picked up a few grocery items at the nearby Foodland and then popped into the huge marine store called Island Water World that was on the way back to our bus stop. Island Water World had a lot of the boat supplies we needed (yes!) so we left there with several big packages and two big smiles!
We got to the bus stop at about 1400 hours and waited for our bus. And waited. And watched as a few #2 buses sped by us. Then we waited some more. And watched more buses go by us. Each bus was packed full. Hmmm, what is going on? Well, we came to learn from a local guy that today, Monday, was the first day of school. And, 1400 hours was the end of the school day. You guessed it! We were competing for bus space along with hundreds of school kids and their school (and bus stop) was well before ours. Yikes! No wonder the buses were full!
Forty-five minutes later, a bus finally stopped and the driver said there was room for just two more people. Awesome! Well, sort of. The two available spaces were more like two half size spaces that we had to wedge into. And all those packages from Island Water World? They were stacked high on our laps! But the fun was not over yet. The bus was still on route. Stops had to be made and, remember, this is a van. When someone wants off the bus, everyone in front of that person must get off the bus to let them out, and then reboard the bus. This happened many, many, many times along the route. With our big shopping bags in tow, this was quite the exercise. Thankfully, the regular bus riders were very patient with us crazy tourists!
The next day was a bit of a play day for us. Dale on Wahoo (our event planner extraordinaire) booked a tour of the Belmont Estates Chocolate Factory, followed by the beautiful Annandale waterfalls. For those keeping score, this is our second chocolate factory and third waterfall in Grenada. Neither disappointed. We had a fabulous tour, some exceptional chocolate and then it was off to the waterfalls.
After grabbing some lunch at The Wild Orchid, a tree top restaurant right beside the waterfalls, we all went swimming. Oh, it was glorious. Fresh, cool, clean water and lots of time on our hands. It was a great way to spend the afternoon for all of us, including Ocean who needed a lot of coaxing to get out of the water at the end of the day. She was having just too much fun!
We rounded out our week with getting a few more tasks off our plate. Barry, our resident master electrician and amazing boat buddy, came over to install a second engine blower on Wild Horses (with two blowers in place, we now have a system that both sucks and blows 😉) and to create a new 50 to 30 amp shore power converter (lots of dock spaces have a 50 amp power supply but our boat runs on 30 amp). While Barry was creating the shore power converter, Mike mentioned that two of our solar panels were not working. This issue had just developed this week and was causing us to be in a power deficit every day, even on very sunny days. Not good! Barry dove into the issue and we are extremely glad he did. After testing the panels and the charge controller, and working through a few different scenarios, he found the issue. A fuse between the charge controller and the battery had melted. Yes, you read that correctly. Fuses should blow and not melt but this one was defective in a very dangerous way. It had loose connections inside the fuse that must have been wiggled free during some recent wiring upgrades we had done. This was a situation that could have resulted in a nasty electrical fire in the stern of our boat. Luckily, we have a battery monitor that showed the defective panels and a master electrician friend who was able to trace the problem right to the melted fuse. Whew!
Just a side note, tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the day we threw off the dock lines and sailed away into the sunset. Well, technically, we motored into the mid-morning sun after waiting out some early morning fog, but the feeling was the same 😊. It has been a journey of gorgeous vistas, up-and-at-‘em days, planning, fixing, exploring, laughing and a lot of adult learning. A lot.
It also brings us a lot of excitement, hope and inspiration as we look forward to Year Two. We can’t wait to see what is around the next corner!
Check out where we are and where we are going by clicking the buttons below!
This week has proven to us that we are definitely in the heart of hurricane season. No fewer than five hurricanes and tropical storms were being tracked by the National Hurricane Centre, and two of these ended up as Category 4 Hurricanes, however briefly. Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. We remember these states well from our trip through the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and hope that they are okay.
For Grenada, we have fared very well with no tropical storms or hurricanes coming close to the Eastern Caribbean since our early encounter with Tropical Storm Bret back in late June. Still, we watch the weather closely. We have a few weather apps that we check several times a day, plus a twice daily check on the National Hurricane Centre website. We also have a daily weather report as part of the Grenada VHF Net. What is the VHF Net? This is a preset VHF channel run by volunteers to get information out to cruisers anchored in the surrounding bays. The schedule varies from island to island, as does the days of operation and length of broadcast. In Georgetown, Bahamas, it ran every morning at 0800 and lasted a full hour. Here in Grenada, the Net runs from Monday to Saturday, starting at 0730 and usually ending by 0800. The content is similar though: Emergency News (sinking boat, lost dog etc), announcement of people arriving or leaving the area, the weather, buy and sell announcements, list of cruiser activities, and a segment for cruisers needing help or information. It is a great way to connect and inform the thousands of boats in and around the area. They also double down with a Facebook page, for those that prefer social media.
Rounding out our weather watching is Chris Parker. Chris is a well-known and well-reputed weather forecaster who runs the Marine Weather Center, providing forecasting and routing advice primarily to small private boaters like us. We have had a subscription with Chris since Florida and have used his routing advice quite a bit for our trip south to Grenada. On two occasions (Bahamas to Luperon, DR; Crossing the Mona Passage from DR to Puerto Rico) we actually used first hand phone conversations with him to make our travel decisions. Now that we are fairly stationary, we have kept our subscription for daily forecasting emails and are thankful for it. In addition to his daily travel advice, whenever there is a notable tropical wave developing, he issues a “Tropical Update” that is highly informative, explaining all active tropical waves or hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, including their possible intensity and track. Even better, he explains the why behind the weather. So refreshing!
What do we do with all this great information? Our weather watching starts early in the morning, every morning. First up is Windy (a great weather app for our phones), scrolled out to see any active and developing hurricane activity straight off Africa and tracking towards Grenada. We compare this information to similar data on the National Hurricane Centre website using both the two day and seven-day outlook. After digesting all of this, Chris Parker’s Tropical Update has usually come in by email and the whole picture becomes very clear. Using this process, we have a pretty good idea of the systems in the Atlantic generally versus the ones we need to watch carefully, well before the word “hurricane” is muttered by the National Hurricane Centre. If a tropical wave looks like it could head our way, and with some intensity, we are aware up to a week ahead of time. With that lead time we can make sure that we, boat and crew, are safe. With a tropical storm, we will likely remain anchored but if anything bigger were to head our way, we would need to get Wild Horses hauled out, strapped down, de-geared and for me, Mike and Ocean to find safe accommodations on land. Getting safely through this season is our main focus!
In the meantime, we are enjoying our days in Grenada. We have developed a bit of a routine and are getting some much needed boat work and errands crossed off our list.
And to add some fun to our days there have been dinghy drifts, dinners out, swimming and general hanging out with friends. I might even say that Grenada is starting to feel a bit homey to us. 😉
Click the buttons below to check out where we are today and where we plan to be next winter!
Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.