Oh man, salt water is a beast. I remember when Wild horses got its first taste of salt water, way back on the lower Hudson River. We noted the occasion with a high five, stating proudly that “Wild Horses is now a salt water boat.” It seemed like such an accomplishment at the time. How cute, and wildly naïve, that seems now.
These days, “cute” is not how I would describe our dealings with salt water. It is a bear, a beast, an annoyance. It is expensive and incredibly time-consuming. Nothing turns our smiles upside down faster than a salty dinghy ride, especially when we are headed out to dinner. Not only are you wet from the ocean water, but you get a lovely salt stain across your clothing as time progresses. Notice I didn’t say “as it dries.” That is because fabric doused in salt water doesn’t dry. It feels wet and looks stained until the next wash. Ugh.
But salty rides to dinner are closer to the “annoying” side of things. The time-consuming and expensive bit is what it does to our stuff. Whether as salty ocean water or as salty ocean air, it literally gets into everything and, as a result, those things start to break down.
Our decks (and everything on them) are affected the worst. On good sailing days, salt water crashes over our bow regularly, soaking everything. Every exposed surface gets the salt water treatment.
Yeah, salt water gets two thumbs down. We tried to stay on top of the damage by giving our boat gear a fresh water rinse every so often. Rainy days would help but, to be honest, there just wasn’t enough of those rainy days. Our stainless steel would get treated with metal polish and, a few weeks later, more rust. Locks, zippers, electronics – these got some attention with rubbing alcohol or WD-40 when they stopped working.
After over a year of being splashed by salt water and exposed to salty air, Wild Horses was losing the salt water battle. The icing on the salt cake was when our metal “water” and “waste” tank covers seized. That’s right. We couldn’t pump out waste and we couldn’t add water through our top decks. Thankfully, we were able to use a penetrating oil and elbow grease to open our water tank covers. The waste tank covers, however, were toast. Both had to be replaced. Clearly, our approach to managing the salt water wasn’t good enough.
With our recent stay at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia, we were given some great “salt water cleaning” lessons by Anthony and Gaza, the two guys we hired to get Wild Horses ship shape. They have cared for and cleaned hundreds of boats and emphasized that prevention is key when you are dealing with salt water. Most important, they stressed, is that the whole boat needs to be rinsed down with fresh water after every single sail. Yikes! That takes a lot of fresh water. It is a good thing we have a water maker!
The good news is that we departed from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia with a beautifully clean, polished and salt-free boat. From now on, it will stay that way with a little (or a lot) of prevention. In fact, as soon as we arrived at our anchorage in Le Marin, Martinique, the whole boat got a fresh water rinse. Yes!
We have been in Martinique for four days, having arrived here on Thursday November 23. It was an easy clearing in process, being a French island. No pet permits here! In fact, we don’t even have to declare the dog. Easy! French islands are also our favourite for the food and wine. Baguettes, pain au chocolat, cheeses, fresh fish and wonderful sauces. Yum! Plus, the adjacent towns are so quaint, with a lovely European vibe. And, this particular anchorage has lots of marine stores in easy walking distance. We have finally picked up several boat spares and replacement parts that have been on our list since last spring.
Tomorrow, we leave Le Marin and head a few hours north to another anchorage in Martinique. More quaint towns, beautiful vistas, and great food and wine. We are one happy crew!
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This has been an exciting week for the crew of Wild Horses. Our weather window for moving north early in the week was holding steady so we knew it was a great chance to get some miles under our keel.
Our boat buddies on Caretta, Kemana and Rode Trip were also keen to get going. They had planned to clear into Union Island, St. Vincent & Grenadines (SVG), which is just a few hours north of Grenada. Unfortunately, Wild Horses would need to have a different sail plan. By Sunday, we still hadn’t received our pet permit for SVG.
We finalized our “Plan B” sail plan to, sadly, bypass SVG and split away from our boat buddies. Well, I should say “almost” bypassing SVG. Our new plan was to sail 50 miles to the North Western corner of SVG and “Q flag” for the night before weighing anchor and sailing the final 50 miles to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. What does “Q flag” mean? Well, it is when you anchor within a country’s territorial waters but you do not clear in. Instead, you leave your yellow Quarantine flag waiving throughout the night. It is a great option if you only have to be in a country for 24 hours (the time limit for Q flagging) and you have no need to go ashore. Absolutely no one can go to shore? Yup. Um, what about Ocean? Well, we have a pee pad set up on our bow for her. At anchor, she will use it if she needs to. Great! We have our plan!
Early Monday morning, Wild Horses, Caretta, Kemana and Rode Trip met outside of the Tyrell Bay Customs & Immigration office promptly at 0800, opening time for clearing out. About 0900, the customs agent arrived, obviously fully embracing “Island Time”. It took us about an hour to clear out and then we were off! All four crews planned to go to a scenic anchorage called Anse La Roche on the North West corner of Carriacou, Grenada for the night. This is a pretty little anchorage that is known for hosting a spectacular beach BBQ. We definitely didn’t want to miss that! Although we had already completed the clearing out process, Grenada allows you 24 hours to leave their territorial waters so stopping at Anse La Roche would be the perfect stop for us and shave an hour off our trip to SVG the next day.
Well, we were happy to have made that decision! Not only did we get to spend more time with our boat buddies but we were treated to an amazing beach BBQ at Tim’s. This is a little beach side set up that provides a five-star family-style BBQ meal. For $100 EC a person ($50 CAD), we had a feast of lobsters, Lambi (aka Conch) stew, BBQ chicken, salad, stuffed potatoes and lots of rice, all served on beautifully laid out tables with lovely tiki lights providing the perfect ambiance. It was an incredible evening! At the end of the evening, we bid farewell to our boat buddies and prepared for our early wake up call to head to SVG the next morning.
At 0615 on Tuesday morning we had weighed anchor and were headed to Chateaubelair, an anchorage on the North Western tip of St. Vincent. We had perfect 25 to 30 knot winds and a very comfortable sea state, all making for a beautiful sail to Chateaubelair and an early arrival time of 1415. On our arrival, the boat boy we were advised to hail (by our boat buddies on Kemana), paddled up to us and helped us choose the best place to anchor and also brought us fresh tomatoes and oranges. Fabulous!
The next morning, Wednesday, we weighed anchor at 0615 and headed straight for St. Lucia. It was another beautiful sailing day as we crossed between SVG and St.Lucia. By the time we had passed the Pitons (the famous mountain range in the south portion of St. Lucia), the wind died and we had to turn on our motor. We were thrilled to find out, via our AIS, that another boat buddy, “Bitty Rose” was just behind us and also headed for Rodney Bay Marina. Fantastic! Once docked, we needed to get to the Customs & Immigration office so we could get ourselves and Ocean cleared into the country. Thankfully, the Government Veterinarian was there waiting for us. Ocean’s veterinary inspection was a quick once over and we were provided her official clearance papers. Yes! Dog, boat and people were officially cleared into St. Lucia.
It was still early afternoon when we finished clearing in so next on the agenda was getting our boat “ship shape”. Our poor Wild Horses has been a bit neglected in the waxing department and all the saltwater had started to take its toll. Anthony and Gaza to the rescue! These are two amazing guys at the marina who do exceptional waxing and detailing work on boats. Better yet, they were available to start working on Wild Horses right away. So far, they have washed and waxed our topsides, polished and de-rusted our all the stainless on the boat, cleaned all of our canvas and cockpit cushions and today they are washing and waxing our whole hull. Oh, and that is after fixing the scratches in our gelcoat from when we were dragged into during Tropical Storm Bret. Wild Horses will be looking shiny and new very soon!
We have been in St. Lucia for five days so far and will likely stay another three or four days. The country is beautiful plus we are enjoying being near good shopping and restaurants. Oh, and since we are at dock, we are loving having our air conditioner to give us a break from the 29 degree Celsius heat. Yes, St. Lucia is feeling like a mini vacation where everything we want is at our fingertips. Soon, however, we will be on the move again. We will likely be in Martinique by the end of the week, just about the time that our buddies will also arrive there.
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Wild Horses arrived in Carriacou, Grenada on Oct 28th and we immediately started to prepare for our trip to St. Vincent & The Grenadines (SVG). The first island in SVG is just a few hours away and we were excited to start island hopping our way through the beautiful waterways of the Grenadines, including Union Island, Canouan and Bequia.
Cue “screeching stop” sound.
After almost two weeks, we still have not received a pet permit to SVG for Ocean. All necessary paperwork was submitted, but we haven’t even so much as received a confirmation of receipt. Processing time is supposed to be three days. I have emailed several times to get an idea of the status of our application. No response. I have also tried calling (probably more than fifty times). No answer. Yeesh. It helps to know that I am not alone in this. I have met several other cruisers with the same experience. Only one was able to finally get someone on the phone at the St. Vincent Government Veterinary Office. They pleaded their case and was issued a permit. Hence, I keep calling the office with the hope of winning the Pet Permit lottery 😉.
In the interim, we have been exploring the beautiful island of Carriacou. Last week, our boat buddies (Kemana and Caretta) and the three crew from Wild Horses took the city bus out to Windward, on the northeast region of the island. This area is ripe with wooden boat building and we were able to see a few in progress as well as chat with a few locals. It took two buses to get to windward and two for the return. In each case, we had to ask if Ocean could board. All but one gladly had her ride, albeit under our seats. She was a champ about it though! The one bus driver who resisted, complained about Ocean’s size, her fur and just about everything dog-like about her. But he finally still let her ride, even though he scowled his way through it. Funny thing though, since that day our scowl-faced bus driver has stopped twice to ask if we want a ride while we were walking Ocean along the street. I guess she warmed his heart a little bit!
We have also had some fun hanging out on a nearby beach, and checking out some local stores, events and great restaurants. And, with our days and nights getting a little cooler (just one or two degrees but we’ll take it), we have enjoyed some very nice walks around town.
Although we haven’t minded waiting a few weeks in Carriacou for our pet permit, there might be a weather window early next week to start moving north and we don’t want to miss this window.
Cue “Plan B”.
The next country north of St. Vincent is St. Lucia. This country is near and dear to our hearts as we visited a resort there several years ago. We absolutely fell in love with the island and the people and have been excited to visit on our own sailboat. On our way south, we had to skip St. Lucia (and St. Vincent) as Tropical Storm Bret was hot on our tail and we wanted to be the furthest south we could safely get. That was Grenada, which is south of both St. Vincent and St, Lucia.
This past week, I requested the pet permit for St. Lucia. Not only did I get a “thanks for your email” receipt but I received the actual pet permit the very next day. Yay! Our new plan now is to head to St. Lucia. Sadly, our boat buddies will not be joining us as they, rightly so, will be exploring SVG. No worries though. We have plans to meet up with them either in St. Lucia or Martinique.
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Our last week in mainland Grenada was a flurry of activity for us. Not only did we have to get Ocean’s documentation up to date for the trip but we wanted to make sure we had enough of our “convenience provisions”. What are those? Simply, they are the things we use daily or might need in a pinch. For us, it includes enough basic boat supplies, house supplies, dog food, drinks and stored food to last a month plus some extra Eastern Caribbean Dollars. While all of this is available as we travel through the Eastern Caribbean islands, they may not be easily accessible. For instance, we love walking so would cheerfully go several blocks from the dinghy dock to a grocery store. But, do we want to carry back large bags of dog food or big packages of toilet paper in the sweltering heat? Likely no. Or, do we want to run out of a favourite brand of something and be searching island after island for more? Surely no. And running out of beer? Hell no! Stocking up in Grenada while we have access to cheap taxis to transport us just makes sense to us. Plus, having a few extra Eastern Caribbean Dollars on hand also makes things a little less stressful. Not every place takes credit cards and sometimes, more often than I would like, the only accessible ATM is out of money.
We also spent quite a bit of time getting Ocean’s papers ready for our trip north. Normally, it is an easy process to visit the Veterinarian to get an updated “health certificate” (summary of the dog’s vaccinations, tests and medications that meet pet travel requirements) for the countries we will be visiting. Going to the Veterinarian this week, however, was anything but easy. Keep in mind that this was a “this week” issue and not a “Grenada” issue.
What happened? Well, we booked Ocean’s appointment at The Small Animal Clinic at St. George’s University for Friday October 20. The Clinic is too far away to walk so we got a taxi with our favourite driver “Squeezo” (so nicknamed because he is famous for squeezing in every last kid on his school drop off and pick up runs).
At the Clinic, the Veterinarian was ready to see us right away. Actually, it was an entourage of Veterinarians. This is a teaching hospital so we had no less than six people in our appointment room – the main Veterinarian, four students and a Veterinary Technician. Ocean loved all the attention! Her appointment went very well …except they didn’t have any Heartworm tests left. Oh. We would have to go to another Veterinary office for the test and then send the results back to The Small Animal Clinic so that they could complete the paperwork for endorsement by the Government Veterinarian. Yeesh!
Thankfully there is “Vets to Go”. This is a mobile Veterinarian that travels to the different bays in southern Grenada. They would come directly to our boat? Amazing! It is a little pricier than the regular Veterinarian but we loved that the service existed. We booked the next available appointment which ended up being on Monday October 23. Perfect! Well, perfect except that it was pouring rain that day and the Veterinarian works out of her small car which has no space for 2 additional people plus a large dog.
We got soaked taking the dinghy into the dock but were able to find refuge in one of the garages at the Secret Harbour Marina. The Veterinarian completed the required test (it was negative, of course) and hand wrote the formal documentation. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think Ocean would have a Veterinary appointment in the garage of a marina in the pouring rain but there we were!
With the testing completed, we had just one more step – to get the endorsed health certificate from the government veterinarian. The Small Animal Clinic submitted all of our documentation and voila! We had everything we needed to start visiting other countries. Well, almost. Many countries also require a pet permit but we need to request that authorization from each country just before we visit them.
We were now ready to weigh anchor and start heading north. At 0830 on Saturday October 28th, Caretta and Wild Horses left Secret Harbour and started the 40 nautical mile sail north to Carriacou, Grenada, following just a little over an hour behind Kemana who had left at 0715. The sea was rolly as we crossed westward along the southern coastline of Grenada but as soon as we pointed our bow north to start our way along the western coastline of Grenada we had both favourable seas and wind. It was a glorious one tack sail. The wind died about mid-island and caused us to turn on our motor but we thankfully shut it off again when the wind picked up just after we passed the northern tip of mainland Grenada.
After a great day on the water, we were happy to arrive in Tyrell Bay just after 1600 hours. We will be here for about a week, taking care of a few boat things and waiting for our pet permit to be approved by the government Veterinarian for St. Vincent. And, yes, one of those “boat things” we needed to get done was removing the stripped zinc screw from our propeller and installing a new zinc and screw. Stop me if you have heard this before but the solution ended up being our boat buddy Barry 😊. Yes, in addition to being a master electrician, he is also an awesome diver. Yesterday morning, he came over to Wild Horses and after no more than 15 minutes, he had the old screw and zinc off and the new one installed. Yes, people, he is just that good!
Last night, the four of us went to one of our favourite Carriacou haunts “The Paradise Beach Club” so we could treat Barry and Andrea to a fabulous “thank you for being amazing at everything” dinner. The water taxi picked up both crews (plus Ocean) at Tyrell Bay and took us around the point to Paradise Beach for a great taco dinner. What a wonderful way to end a successful day!
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We have had one of our busiest weeks since we arrived in Grenada but every minute of it had us smiling from ear to ear. Well, that isn’t entirely correct after this morning’s events. Sigh. But let’s start with the good stuff.
We were elated at the beginning of last week with the early arrival of our shipment of packages from Miami. We got the call late on Monday (Oct 17) from our cargo broker that he would be bringing our boxes to Secret Harbour the next day. Thankfully, all eight boxes made their way quickly through Customs. We had heard of others who had to wait two or three weeks for their clearance but ours came in just five days. Yay!
Mike was away from the harbour doing our weekly shopping so Ocean and I signed for all the boxes, loaded them into the dinghy and got them aboard Wild Horses. In this shipment were our oil filters (boring but important), our port navigation light (boring but important), our new radar (so-so exciting but important), a few items from home (fun and important) and our new Solstice Pup Plank (super crazy exciting and important).
Later that same afternoon, Barry (our amazing buddy and electrician from Caretta) came over to Wild Horses and helped to install the port navigation light. When ordering the port navigation light, we tried desperately to get one with a white encasement so that it would be a perfect match to our still intact starboard navigation light. Unfortunately, they were all back ordered at the manufacturer. Yeesh. We decided to go with function over form and get one with a black encasement. Is it a big deal? Nope! And we kind of like our “black eye” at the bow. It doesn’t stand out to anyone else and, to us, it is a badge of honour. It is the only equipment we lost when we were dragged into during Tropical Storm Bret and that is due to Mike’s keen captain skills. I love looking at that light!
The following day, Barry was back at Wild Horses to do the outside installation of our new radar. I wish I could say the installation went smoothly and easily but it didn’t. It took a lot of ingenuity and hard work from Barry to get the radar mounted on our mast. Not only did he have to go up our mast several times to feed wires that did not want to be fed but he also ground out a spot in our mast to properly hold the radar mount. The guy was tired, sweaty and full of metal shavings by late afternoon. And, on Saturday he returned to finish the inside wiring pieces. Thanks to Barry we finally have radar on Wild Horses! Barry is definitely one very skilled and hard-working guy and we will be spoiling him appropriately to say thanks!
Ah, and then there is the Solstice Pup Plank. Yes, Ocean already has a great ramp for swimming off the stern of Wild Horses and that won’t change. The Pup Plank, however, is a mobile swim platform that we can attach to the dinghy so we can swim her when we go snorkelling. We never run out of ways to spoil our pup!
In between installations, we decided that we were due to play around in another waterfall. We had heard great things about the Mount Carmel Waterfall located in the parish of St. Andrew and all of our boat buddies (Caretta, Kemana, Bitty Rose) were happy to come along. It was a good hour drive there by taxi but well worth it. These waterfalls are less touristy than the others we had been to in Grenada. Our taxi took us down a narrow tree lined road and parked just off a little trail into the woods. At the end of the trail was a beautiful and tranquil waterfall with a gorgeous swimming area at its base. But wait, that isn’t all. Continuing along the woody trail and across a stream, we found ourselves at any even more stunning waterfall. The water cascaded down 70 feet and there was lots of room to swim and play in the falls and in its refreshing pool of water. We had thought that these falls would be very busy but we were the only ones there for most of the morning.
After we had our fill of the second waterfall, we walked back along the trail to the first waterfall where our driver (Devon) had prepared us a traditional Oil Down lunch. Full of salted fish, coconut milk, callaloo (like spinach), breadfruit (like potatoes), carrots, and dumplings – it was delicious! After lunch, we played in the waterfall until early afternoon. It was an incredible day and we felt like real Grenadians. It is days like this that make this adventure worth the hardship of travel and boat issues.
Speaking of which, this morning was one of the not so great times ☹. We had arranged to have our anchor chain and the hull of Wild Horses thoroughly cleaned (the barnacles and slime are nasty after 3 months of sitting still!) and to have our propeller zinc changed by a great company here in Grenada in anticipation of leaving Grenada in the coming week. For non-sailors, the zinc is a sacrificial metal that will take the brunt of any stray electrical current that may be running around our hull from our own boat or from other boats. Without it, our through hulls could get damaged and, well, that just makes for a very wet and potentially sinking boat.
Anchor chain cleaning – CHECK.
Hull cleaning – CHECK.
Zinc change – Uh oh.
The screw that holds the zinc onto the end of the propeller was completely stripped and the only solution put forward so far is to get the Wild Horses hauled out to fix the screw/zinc issue. Will this delay our departure from Grenada? We have no idea as I write this but we are now scrambling for options. It is never a dull moment around here! Thankfully we still have visions of our day in the Mount Carmel Waterfalls to keep us smiling!
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Hurricane season is just about over and we have started to see a few boats leave our anchorage and begin their slow meander north, up the Eastern Caribbean island chain, or west to Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. For us, we are planning to make our exit from Grenada within the next few weeks and will be heading north. However, before we weigh anchor, we have a departure list of several tasks that will need to be done. The first on this list is to receive our cargo shipment from Miami.
When we first arrived in Grenada, West Indies, we quickly learned that it is a common practice of cruisers to get items shipped to Grenada from the United States, Canada and elsewhere. The island is just too small to have “everything” a cruiser would need for their boat so many cruisers have to use an importing company.
The process is fairly simple, although it involves several steps. Order your items from a vendor and then ship them to the importer’s Miami address. If there are multiple items then the importer opens the boxes and consolidates the items to reduce the overall size of the shipment which lowers the cost to the cruiser. The boxes are then shipped (by cargo ship or airplane) to a Grenadian address. Once the shipment arrives in Grenada, it has to be processed through Customs so that the appropriate duty charges can be applied. If all goes smoothly, the whole process takes about a month. And the cost? Well, it won’t break the bank but it isn’t super cheap either. Suffice it to say, a person would generally only ship an item that they really needed.
For us, we had a few items that we couldn’t find anywhere in Grenada but all were critical to us as cruisers so we had to get on board the “ship-or-go-without” train. In our shipment will be our new radar system, a port navigation light (replacing the one that was broken in Tropical Storm Bret), oil filters for our Westerbeke engine, and a Solstice Pup Plank for Ocean to use when we are snorkelling from our dinghy. Oh, and we have a couple of items arriving that were replaced under warranty and had been sent to our Canadian address. A few packages of Swiss Chalet sauce may also have found their way into that bundle before it was mailed to Miami (thank you Betty and Barry!).
Until our shipment arrives, we are easily entertaining ourselves. Ocean swims off the boat on a daily basis and we still hang out quite a bit with our friends on Caretta, Kemana and Bitty Rose. Just this morning we had a great sailing and fishing outing, on Caretta, to the reef outside of the southern bays. Although we had no luck with fishing, the sail and camaraderie were perfect.
We also had a great time watching college football on Bitty Rose this past weekend. And last week? Well, we played Bingo at Prickly Bay Marina where the grand prize was a goat (yes, an actual live goat). We did have some winners in our group but, thankfully, none of our gang won that prize! Too bad, having a goat as crew would certainly spice up the anchorage!
We will be on the move again soon. Click on the buttons below to check out where we are today and where we plan to sail next season.
This past year has been a big learning curve for us. For sure, there have been big surprises, like lots of engine work, but there have also been many little surprises along the way too, which have made the journey just a tad more interesting.
Here are our top five surprises from our first year:
First – No bugs!
Mike and I thought that living in the hot Caribbean would mean a lot of bug management on the boat. We had read many articles and posts about not bringing cardboard onto the boat as they are likely full of roach eggs (yikes!) and that the mosquitos down south would be a lot to handle. Yeesh, this was not something I was looking forward too. Back home in the Thousand Islands, I was constantly fighting to combat bugs. Mosquitos during the day, no-see-ums at dusk and spiders all the time. Well, so far, bugs are a non-issue for us in the Caribbean. We have taken cardboard onto the boat on several occasions throughout our trip and have never suffered for it. We also never put the screens in our hatches, preferring to allow as much wind to flow through the boat as possible. Mosquitos seem to be more of a land issue, thankfully. And spiders? I have not seen any on the boat, I mean, not even one, since we left the New York State canals. At anchor, we are blissfully bug-less 😊.
Second – How challenging it would be to get stuff
We had no idea how difficult it would be to get stuff along the way on this journey, that includes deliveries, marine supplies and our groceries. I mean, we knew we would have to walk to grocery stores and that walk would sometimes be long. We just didn’t realize how many towns along the New York State canals, in the Chesapeake, along the AICW (Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway) and further south in the Caribbean, wouldn’t have stores at all. Or, if there were stores, that they would be only marginally stocked and the size of a convenience store back home. Thankfully, my ultra-conservative self decided to stock up on lots of groceries and house supplies before we left Canada. When a good store couldn’t be found, we simply shopped on Wild Horses!
Marine supplies were similar. It wasn’t always easy finding a marine store and when we did, we couldn’t always find the right parts. It was a big surprise that something as simple as an oil filter for our Westerbeke engine could not be found once we left the United States. Truth be told, knowing what we know now, we could have done better with our spare parts before we left Canada. Too often, we had to borrow from our boat buddies until we could get the part we needed.
The other challenge was getting deliveries like warranty parts, bank or credit cards, SIM cards and amazon deliveries while travelling. When the weather was good, we wanted to keep moving and it was painful to have to stop and wait for a delivery to arrive. In Grenada, getting those same deliveries is a huge and expensive process. For example, it would have cost $130 CAD to get our replacement bank cards couriered from home. Yikes! Thankfully, a cruiser friend was able to bring them back for us when they flew back to Grenada from Canada.
Third – The beers keep getting smaller
How is this even possible? So unfair…
Fourth – What a blend of people we would be cruising with
Of course, we figured we would meet people from around the world (and we have) but what was surprising was the wide variety of people from all walks of life that are cruisers. Our little anchorage alone is full of retired (or working!) lawyers, business owners, government workers, realtors, medical people, police officers, teachers, tradespeople, kids, animals, young people, older people and everything in between. You name it, we got it. This diversity was hugely highlighted one afternoon when a young lad and his friends were fishing off the docks. All of a sudden, there was screaming. One of the young boys had gotten a fish hook in his cheek. Yeesh! Within minutes, several cruisers were on the scene. A numbing agent was applied by a retired dentist, then a retired ER doctor removed the hook while a retired nurse assisted. Incredible!
Fifth - Ocean’s popularity with the locals
We were definitely unprepared for how much attention Ocean would get on our travels. From our first moments in the Bahamas and all through the Caribbean, Ocean has caused a stir. Locals react strongly to her, in a very respectful and positive way. Kind of like she is a loaded weapon. Eyes become wide as we walk down the street. Women usually give her a wide berth and say “woo-wee, that is a big dog” while guys will challenge each other to get close to her. Almost everyone will finally ask to meet her though and when they see how calm she is, well, then they want to know if she can have puppies (she can’t). They want a dog just like her. And once we throw on her sunglasses to take off in the dinghy, it is game over. We get big smiles from everyone, or a thumbs up. It is an incredibly fun experience for us and we have met so many wonderful people. And the word spreads. Walking along a roadside or arriving at a dock, people we have never met will ask “Is that Ocean”? Well, yes it is! Our little girl is pretty popular!
These surprises are exactly why we are enjoying this lifestyle so much. Not all of it is fun but all of it keep us captivated and on our toes! 😊
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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 😉.
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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!
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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. 😊
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Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.