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!
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!
Oh my, the heat. The temperature in Grenada has been dancing between 27° to 32° Celsius for the last month and we are expecting even more heat as we go into September, typically the hottest month here in the Caribbean. But wait a second. Summer in Kingston, Ontario often hits these same temperatures, right? I mean, we should feel right at home. Hmmm, not so. You see, the temperature only tells part of the story. The real story lies in a nasty mixture of humidity, the wind speed (or lack thereof) and another more subjective factor I like to call “whatcha-used-to”.
This last factor is really the difference maker.
For us in Canada, “whatcha-used-to” was air conditioning. House, car, place of work, stores. Generally all air-conditioned. Yes, one had to make multiple brave steps in the non-air conditioned humidity from house to car, and then from car to store (and then, I shudder, do it all again in reverse) but you only got hit by the heat for minutes, not hours and certainly not days. There, in Canada, “sweat” was something we did once in awhile.
For us in Grenada, “whatcha-used-to” is heat and humidity. That tolerable 27° to 32° Celsius is actually a suffocating 34° to 39° Celsius with the humidity. And we aren’t jumping from air conditioning to air conditioning. Some stores are air conditioned but you are walking at least 20 minutes in the heat to get there. Yeesh. On the boat, our air conditioning only works if we are plugged into shore power. Some boaters have a proper generator on board but not us. Our little Honda 2000 generator isn’t strong enough to run air conditioning. Here, in the Caribbean, “sweat” is a full-on Olympic event from sun up to sun down.
But a funny thing has happened on our increasingly warm trip down to the Caribbean. We started to get acclimatized to the temperature. Don’t get me wrong, we still sweat buckets on hot days, but we can tolerate more and more heat. Staying too long in air conditioning set too low is almost torture for us now. And along with our increased tolerance, we have an arsenal of ways to stay cool when that temperature really spikes.
On the boat, all hatches and our full enclosure stay wide open. The breeze coming through our cockpit is incredibly cooling. Inside the boat, we have fans. Oh, those glorious fans. We have six on the boat, strategically placed and permanently set to MAX. With this one-two punch of breeze + fans, we have yet to have a poor night’s sleep due to heat. We have also traded our hot morning coffee for delicious iced brew so we can delay the onset of “sweat”. It is still weird for me when I have to tell Mike “Drink up. Your coffee is going to get hot” 😉.
How else do we stay cool? Swimming, shade and siestas!
We are lucky to have a very nice anchorage where the water is clean and clear. Ocean usually swims most days so she is cooling off while also getting some much needed exercise. For us, we prefer the fresh water pool at Le Phare Bleu, a little resort just a dinghy ride away. There we can lounge about the shaded pool area, swimming and enjoying great conversations with our fellow cruisers. The shade anywhere makes a big difference, usually by 3° to 4° degrees. I’ll take it!
Oh and siestas. Some days, those really hot and windless days, the only way to avoid dripping in sweat is to sit still during the hottest part of the day, late afternoon. A siesta. Don’t go for a walk, don’t do errands, don’t clean/build/fix anything. Sit still in whatever shade you can find, drink something cold and read a good book, chat with friends, whatever keeps you sitting still.
Today, actually, is one of those really, really hot days. It is 39° with the humidity and there isn’t a stitch of wind. But today we are lucky. We are at a dock getting some work done on our alternator (it was running hot, just like us 😉) so you better believe that our air conditioner is ON. But it isn’t on to make things cold. It is set to 29° Celsius. Just low enough to take the humidity out of the air and let us sleep comfortably. Decadent, but not messing with that acclimatization we have earned.
Tomorrow, though, we will move Wild Horses back into the anchorage. Our boat work is done (new, bigger cables for the alternator, new fuse in one of our lithium batteries, and the batteries finally on bus bars) so we no longer have a need to be at dock. And, thankfully, the wind is supposed to pick up again. Back to breezy, comfortable sunsets in the cockpit of Wild Horses. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
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Grenada’s Carnival is a HUGE annual celebration here. The Carnival, also called “Spicemas” (a nod to its world-renowned spice production), is a big ball full of energy fueled by music, dance, colour and, of course, a bit of drinking. Ummm, maybe A LOT of drinking 😉. The centre of the action is near Port Louis, a 20-minute car ride from our anchorage.
Every year, the main Spicemas events start officially late on the Sunday and go until the wee hours of the following Wednesday. People can choose to participate in just a few events but the very brave do them all.
Yup! Spicemas is pure craziness. I cannot emphasize this enough. The main event of J’ouvert begins at 4am and ends at 9am. In addition to extremely mind-altering loud music and brightly costumed dancers, oil drenched Jab Jab (people dressed to represent the devil) are a key part of it. Oil? Yes, oil. Any kind of oil but mostly motor oil. There is lots of it to go around and throwing it on each other and anyone else in attendance is, well, how its done. But it starts at 4am, I mean, surely this is the most sober event? Nope. Just the opposite. Yikes!
So, let’s say you survive J’ouvert. Next up is Traditional Mas. Hmmm, sounds like a low-key event. In the words of one of our fellow cruisers who attended J’ouvert and then Traditional mas (the main Sunday to Monday events) “Hard to believe this is the same day!...I’ve passed out, woke back up, taken 3 showers, went to a parade with the loudest music ever, and now about to hike to the beginning of the night parade that we are in.”
Most of us older cruisers choose to attend the Tuesday afternoon event called Fancy Mas (also known as Pretty Mas). This is a parade down the street with beautifully costumed dancers and other performers. And, once again, it is loud. We were strongly advised, because of the noise, that it is not a place for a dog. And leaving Ocean on Wild Horses for 8 hours by herself was not an option. We had to decline attending. Our friends who participated said that it was an incredibly unique experience and unlike any other parade they have ever been to. Oh, and it was truly loud. Like, the loudest thing they have ever heard.
And there you have it. We had made the right decision. Not good for Ocean. Not good for us.
In hindsight, it was an incredibly right decision. Mid-day on Tuesday (when our friends, including Caretta, were attending Fancy Mas), an intense squall blew through our anchorage. 50+ knot winds, 5-foot seas, pelting sheets of rain.
Wild Horses’ anchor held.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case for Caretta. The boat belonging to our boat buddies extraordinaire, Andrea and Barry, dragged towards the lee shore and, remember, they were not on board. Thankfully, their anchor re-caught just in time.
Once it was safe to climb into dinghies, all hands were on deck. The captains from four nearby boats got into their dinghies (including Mike) and they were able to confirm that Caretta had not only NOT hit the nearby shoal but also that the depth around the boat was sufficient. Just in case another squall passed through before Barry and Andrea could return, the guys deployed Caretta’s second anchor which was already set up and waiting on the stern pulpit (brilliant move by Caretta). Whew!
What else have we been up to? Well, we took part in our second Hash hike. This one was closer to our anchorage but way more difficult. Hearts were pumping! It was straight up a muddy mountain and then straight back down, albeit with a side trip through some of the captivating streets of Grand Mal. An awesome but challenging hash that left us wanting more.
Now that Carnival is over, things are getting back to normal. We are looking forward to getting some needed boat work done and to maybe visiting another waterfall or taking in yet another Hash. Whatever we decide to do, it will likely involve our very merry group of boat buddies!
Check out where we are today, and where we are going this winter, by clicking the links below.
The following post is Captain Mike’s take on things, as scribed by Victoria
Before leaving Lake Ontario last year, I had expectations.
I have wanted to live on a sailboat for as long as I can remember and the idea of sailing off to foreign lands, exploring the world, captivated me. Plus, I wanted to live an easy, stress-free sailing lifestyle, meeting interesting people, enjoying diverse foods and drinking in the beauty of far-off lands.
Victoria, Ocean and I are almost a year into living on our boat and, to be honest, I had the dream a little wrong.
Certainly, we accomplished what we set off to do (i.e. meeting interesting people, enjoying diverse foods and drinking in the beauty of far-off lands) but having an easy and stress-free lifestyle, well, not really. In small pockets, for sure, but the whole of what we have gone through this past year was more challenging than I imagined.
You see, actually “sailing” Wild Horses hasn’t really happened all that much. I knew with navigating canals, the ICW and travelling east into the trade winds, I would have to motor but it surprised me how much the wind was directly on our nose even when we started south. And the challenge of Wild Horses, for me, is when she is a motor boat, rather than when she is a sailboat.
The engine, now 21 years old, is the bane of my existence. I am always listening for odd sounds, bad sounds, mechanical failure sounds. In this trip alone, we have had two engine failures, the muffler sprung a leak twice (two different spots), the alternator blew up on two occasions. I just had another engine check and my alternator needs a real once over (it is running extremely hot and the cause is not yet known), the dripless is dripping and the engine throttle has started to slip. So, yes, even with all the well-known issues being fixed and the newly-learned issues pending a fix, I worry. I get chills down my spine thinking about motoring through a narrow cut or close to a lee shore. I am just waiting for the next thing to break. I have always tried to get ahead of developing boat issues through regular maintenance but what I am learning to deal with now are the things that break despite maintenance, including new equipment. Is this just the woes of Wild Horses? Not really. This is the lifestyle and I see other sailors experiencing the same “what’s broken now” daily angst. In fact, it happens so often that very seasoned sailors are quite chill about it. I am not there yet, but some day!
I am confident in Wild Horses as a sailboat though. She handles strong winds well and rides the waves and ocean swell like a champ. Now that we are “south”, we can choose where and when we move the boat. We are not trying to “get somewhere” anymore so we intend to let the wind decide our destinations. The sails will be out and the motor off 😊.
So, what are my biggest takeaways after almost a year of living aboard Wild Horses?
My final takeaway is for those planning their own journey. The mental aspect is real. You only get part of the story by talking to old salts, watching Youtubers or even chatting with friends who have done this trip. You can only understand how it will be for you until you do it. For me, the rewards haven’t always, every day, outweighed the problems. But, overall, my life is better for having embarked on this journey. I have so many full days, great relationships, and wonderful experiences. And hopefully by the time I am an old salt myself, I will figure out how to be chill about that boat engine 😊.
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This week we had the opportunity to explore a bit more of Grenada and finally made it up to the city of St. George’s for their very busy Saturday farmer’s market and to check out the Grenada Fish Market. It is about a 2 hour walk from our anchorage to the city so, understandably, we took one of the “shopping taxis” for 15 EC (Eastern Caribbean dollars) or $7 CAD. A 25 minute taxi ride beats a 2 hour walk in any temperature, let alone 31 degrees Celsius heat (humidex of 39 degrees!). The taxi, really a mini van, packs in about 12 people so it is tight but comfortable. Plus, it is a great way to meet our fellow boaters from various anchorages.
St. Georges city centre looks like a small city with lots of low-rise businesses and services but every street and alleyway were packed with sidewalk vendors. And this is in addition to the vendors with stalls within the actual farmer’s market itself. There was lots to see and buy!
But our big focus was making it to the Fish Market, which is just off the Fisherman’s Wharf in St. George’s. Every Friday, the fishermen unload their catches here and, this being Saturday morning, we were hoping to still find some good buys. I was able to get some lovely tuna but our friends on Wahoo (Roy and Dale), were looking for Conch (pronounced “konk”) and there was none to be had anywhere in the market. No worries though, we were told that there might be some for sale across the street. Off we went and, yes! A few ladies sitting on the sidewalk had a cooler full of cleaned and bagged conch! Dale picked up a bag but I hesitated. What in the world would I do with conch? I had no idea how to prepare it or how to cook it. Dale to the rescue! She has lots of experience with conch and offered to host a “clean, prepare and cook” session on her boat. Awesome!
Earlier this week, we also got to check out the campus of St. George’s University, which is home to the St. George’s University School of Medicine and the St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, both highly accredited and world-renowned. In addition to wanting to see the schools, we needed to take Ocean to the Small Animal Clinic at the university to get her annual vaccinations and to have a vet look at her right eye, which had developed a bit of an infection.
Arriving at the office, we were happy that it was air-conditioned and, more importantly, it was empty. They don’t take appointments in the summer so it is “first come, first served” but with no one else in the office, they saw Ocean right away. Two veterinary technicians took Ocean’s vitals and history. It certainly felt like VIP service. Afterwards, they took Ocean to the Veterinarian on duty, in the back exam rooms, while we waited patiently in the main lobby area.
And there we waited. And waited. And, well, we waited some more. After an hour and a half, I was really feeling the cold from the air-conditioner. The level of the air-conditioning was appropriate for the uniformed staff and their furry clients but was a bit much for two sailors in shorts and who are now acclimatized to the Grenadian heat. I actually had to step outside to warm up!
The Vet appeared with Ocean just after the 2 hour mark and gave us the low down on her bad eye. She definitely had an inflamed third eyelid (yes – dogs have three eyelids!) but the cause was not as definitive. Being part of the veterinary school, they had done every test and analysis known to man, likely with on-looking students. Nothing was overlooked or not considered. They had measured eye pressure, looked for scratches, ulcers, unusual dryness – the whole gambit! Nothing unusual was found so it was determined that sand or some other irritant was the culprit and prescribed her a heavy-duty eye medication. The total cost for the examination, tests, medications, her annual vaccinations plus some extra dog treats that we couldn’t resist? A mere $130 CAD. Wow! This is great news as we will need to return later in the year to get her exit health certificate before we leave Grenada and head to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
We also enjoyed lots of great times out and about in Grenada!
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Oh my gosh, “island time”. This is a running joke, whether you live in the Caribbean, other islands, even in the United States or Canada. Everyone knows that “island time” means things are not running on a 9-5, bing-bang, “let’s-get- things-done” timeline. No, things get done when they get done, and sometimes, unfortunately, they don’t get done. Sigh. Sometimes “island time” is, well, tiresome.
We have a long list of projects and tasks to get through in this off-season and we would like to get many of them started as soon as possible. The issue? Island time! We send off emails and texts about parts, services, or for information gathering and…no reply. Crickets. Even calling or dropping by in person doesn’t guarantee things move any faster. Well, this week we learned a great skill about working with “island time” and still getting stuff done.
You have to shake the tree. Huh? I’ll explain.
We are lucky in that the marina we are anchored nearby generously lets us not only use their dinghy dock but they also let us wander around their beautifully landscaped property. After a few shore walkabouts with Ocean, we realized that there were two very full mango trees along the pathway and, guess what? It is mango season! The mangos are too high to reach by hand so we needed help. We found the perfect stick (shaped like a hockey stick, no less) and were successful at trapping and knocking off several wonderfully ripe mangos. A few others were outside of the reach of the stick so Mike crawled up the trees a few feet to reach them. Still, lots of ready-to-eat mangos stayed safely perched high atop the trees. Oh well, we decided. We will just have to be happy with the low hanging fruit.
This week we arrived back at the trees, hoping that a few more easily accessible mangos would be ripe and ready to be knocked off. We managed a puny harvest of two mangos. Oh.
Then, along came a young gentleman from the marina, walking briskly towards us on his way to the other side of the marina. I am not sure how long he had watched our struggles but he didn’t hesitate. As we stood watching, he quickly climbed up the tree, much further up than Mike had attempted. And then what did he do? He started shaking the tree. Lots of loose mangos let go of their branches. Wow, this guy knows how to get his mangos! We collected the mangos for him but when he crawled down the tree, he waved us off. “Nope, they are for you” and then he started off again along the pathway to the other side of the marina. He was, for sure, your typical super-nice Grenadian. And we, for sure, just got a great lesson on getting things done in Grenada. Be patient, but if time goes on too long, you just might need to shake the tree a little 😉.
This new-to-us philosophy has worked well this week for getting information from businesses (call, wait, text, wait, shake tree i.e. text again, call, call, text etc.) and, also our weekly bus services (text, wait, text, wait, shake tree i.e. text, call, etc.). Once we shake the tree a bit, we get a reply. Even the busier pop-up markets, where there are usually more people than product, benefit from a little shake, albeit in a different form. Instead of waiting until the produce is all unpacked, displayed and promptly gobbled up by the crowd, we help the vendor bring the product to their table, making sure we select a few of our preferred items from the stash before we leave to get more product from their car. Perfectly shaken.
Besides shaking things up for ourselves 😉, we continue to have very full days. Most of the time we fit in some boat maintenance, an errand or two, walking or exploring with friends, and, of course, exercising Ocean. We somehow also find some quiet moments in the evening to share a sun downer with our ever-growing band of boat friends. These are very lovely days indeed.
Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.