Dec 26 - Happy Boxing Day!

We had a lovely Christmas potluck dinner with 24 cruisers (including 2 children) getting together, using the tables and facilities at the Fig Tree Restaurant. The feast was plentiful, and most of us didn't eat breakfast the next morning. In the anchorage, it's been like a roller derby. Boats are dragging, re-anchoring multiple times, and there's been a few near misses but only two collisions that we know of. Very entertaining, unless you're the target. We've moved our anchoring spot twice to get away from neighbors that were too close and refused to move. Fortunately, we haven't been hit, but I must say, apparently we must have a bull's eye painted on our hull somewhere. Holding here in Admiralty Bay is dodgy; there's good holding in sand, but many areas appear sandy but are in actuality a thin layer of sand on top of gravel...almost impossible to get the anchor to bite; hence, boats drag as they finally come to that realization. Of course, all this is happening in steady winds of 20-25 knots and squalls to 37 knots! At any rate, it's all good. We've been visiting neighbors, learning what a real mince pie should taste like, and enjoying ourselves. Likewise, we hope all of you enjoyed your Christmas and had a chance to see family and friends. Cheers!

Dec 25 - Merry Christmas!

Wishing all our friends and family a very Merry Christmas! About 15 cruisers we've met got together at the Frangipani Restaurant last night for a lovely dinner, along with the sounds of a live steel band in the background. We hope this holiday season brings good cheer your way and we look forward to hearing from you!

Dec 22 - Perseverence pays off...

The watermaker...where were we? Let's see. I took off the many end fittings, then bounced the membrane housings up and down on the heavy wooden deck of one of the dinghy docks, enough to break loose the stainless end caps with their two O-rings. Before they slid out completely, we returned to Infini to finish the job. When the four end caps were removed, the membranes came sliding out with a bit of jostling, and I tied a line thru the center of each and hung them over the transom, hoping the movement of the water would help break up some of the micro-bacterial growth evident on them. Wishful thinking; didn't happen. Thinking that high pressure would be the only thing that may prove beneficial, I spoke with Cheryl, the woman who runs the morning VHF ch 68 radio net in the mornings, and got the name of a local person with a pressure washer. Off I went, and spent about a half hour pressure washing the membranes, getting a good shower as well in the deal. The results didn't appear all that promising, but there was nothing left to do but put the entire watermaker together again and test it. That didn't go so well, as there were beaucoup leaks in the fittings I had just reinstalled as soon as I attempted to put the membranes under pressure. The boost pump was dribbling at best, showing that the membranes were just about totally blocked. After tightening all the fittings, I went thru the start-up procedures again, and the leaks were still there, but manageable. The high pressure pump was turned up, and we started making desalinated water. I ran the unit for an hour before filling our tanks. I still need to tighten everything up, but it appears we're in business. I'll probably clean the membranes, but they appear to be on their last hurrah, so we feel fortunate to actually be able to get use out of them, yet alone take decent fresh water showers again; what a luxury. The saga continues, but the outcome seems to be improving....While all this was going on, a high pressure system in the Atlantic has been causing enhanced trade wind activity throughout the windward (where we are in Bequia) and leeward islands. We saw 35 knots at anchor the other night! Yikes! Didn't get much sleep with the wind howling and just worrying too much. It's moderated a bit; steady winds are less than 20 knots with gusts in the 25-27 range. Lighter winds aren't expected until next week, so it will be awhile until we move up the island chain. All's well aboard.
Pic: It's been interesting watching the different boats/ships come and go...

Dec 18 - Update

We've been walking around town checking out the resources. Provisioning is easy, with lots of groceries, specialty stores and market stalls. There are enterprising folks who pick up and deliver laundry from/to your boat, as well as fresh water, diesel, gasoline, baguettes and croissants, and grocery items; all delivered to your boat. Convenient, huh? Propane is a bit pricey, as we found out when we filled our 20# tank. There are mechanics, sail repair shops, sewing repair shops, and chandlaries. There's a small museum (we haven't been to yet); a tourist information kiosk, and taxis galore. Large and small tour boats come in and out daily, as do yachties. We've had a few boats anchor way too close and asked them to move, and watched the small Coast Guard boat help move a large, unattended yacht to a mooring as it dragged down in the middle of the fleet here at Princess Margaret Beach. There's a good crew of OCC members here, but haven't spotted any SSCA burgees yet. The winds are brisk; 18-25 with a few higher gusts. We're anchored in 10' of water with 100' of chain out, so are in good shape so far. Btw, I've finally removed the two watermaker membranes from their housings; they're presently hanging suspended off the stern of the boat in the hopes some water flow will help clean them. I saw someone using a pressure washer at one of the resorts yesterday, so I plan to stop by and see if I can use it on the membranes. Desperate times and all that...
Pic: Sundowners on the beach with new friends...

Dec 15 - Bequia

Pos: N13deg00.12min/ W061deg14.70min. Departing at 0600, we anchored at 1330 in Admiralty Bay. Although hard on the wind the entire 41 miles, the sun was out, the breeze fresh at 18-22 knots, and we had the jib, staysail, and single reefed main push us along smartly thru the short, choppy waves. Bequia's largest, indeed its only, town, Port Elizabeth is at the head of Admiralty bay, and it serves as a base for charter as well as visiting yachts. In its day, Bequia was a whaling town, but now serves mainly as a yachting destination. I have always wanted to visit here, so look forward to spending time exploring its nooks and crannies.

Dec 12 - Unexpected project day

Sue woke up and not so cheerfully informed me she couldn't pump the head (toilet, for you landlubbers.) Just the way I want to start my day. I checked the intake and outlet valves, checked connections, checked the joker valve...checked everything. I even put a new O-ring on the piston...didn't do anything, but made me feel better doing it. The toilet allowed water in for just a few strokes, but wouldn't discharge, so it seemed apparent there was an obstruction on the outlet side. I disconnected hoses to the seacock, snaked it, and everything fed fine. Ok then, let's go for the 3-way valve; that's the one that diverts waste into our holding tank or overboard. The valve worked fine and initial inspection failed to reveal a blockage. Hmmm...time to disconnect the other hose going to the vented loop. Finally. The hose was totally packed up with scale; After 8 years, it was time to replace that hose, which was done in short order. From start to finish took me over 6 hours; putting everything back and sanitizing took another 1.5 hours. Welcome to paradise...Later, after a swim and shower, we launched the dinghy and went into the Carriacou Marine dinghy dock to get our bearings. There's a small chandlery there next to the haul-out yard, which is affiliated with Island Water World, so parts can be ordered from other IWW outlets. We walked next door to the Slipway Restaurant for a beer, and admired the view. We estimate about 75 boats in the anchorage. On our return to Infini we stopped by to see Bob and Peggy of the Westsail 42 Adagio. We had first met them in Panama back in 2008! We then stopped by sv Galene (Richard and Rowena), who were flying their OCC burgee and are our immediate neighbors. We flew our SSCA and OCC burgees briefly; the high winds threatened to tear them apart, so a revision of our flag halyard hoist is probably in order. Sounds like a project for another day.

Dec 11 - Carriacou

Pos: N12deg27.379min / W061deg29.288min. We had a wonderful sail from St George's anchorage to Carriacou. There was a bit of motoring, but most of the time it was 18-25 knots of wind and we sailed with a single reef, staysail, and 1/2-3/4 jib. Plenty of rain squalls made it interesting, but no big deal. We stayed on one tack, the current pushed us west, as expected, then reversed and pushed us right to the mouth of Tyrell Bay. We gave Kick-em-Jenny, the active underwater volcano right on the rhumb line from St George's to here, a wide berth. Anchor up to anchor down was about 6-6.5 hours; doesn't get any better than that! Tyrell Bay is described in Chris Doyle's Windward Islands Waterway Guide as "an island with over a hundred rum shops and only one gas station." Hmmm. It's crowded here with lots of boats, but we found a place to anchor in 14' of water, stowed sails, and ate lunch. Watermaker news: the new boost pump for the watermaker works fine; unfortunately, the membranes are stuffed. We get no water flow at all with the pump on, so we've decided to forget it, conserve water, and buy water when necessary. The cost of purchasing two membranes is prohibitive, and we'd get one season out of them before, we suspect, the same thing would happen again. So, until plan B comes along, that's our current plan A; we're open to suggestions.

Dec 9 - Update

We've been busy around here. Sue's been to a few yoga classes, I joined her for a Tai Chi class, and we played Grenada dominoes one morning as well. Dave, Mary Margaret and ourselves drove to Aquarium Beach where we went swimming, cooked hamburgers over an open fire, and met some locals. Aziz owns a fast food place near the campus of St. George University, and happily meets and greets many of the students. We shared a rum (or two) with him and agreed to eat at his restaurant the next day (today) for lunch. We met up Dave and MM again late this morning and made a quick stop into Budget Marine. Our boost pump had arrived; it's now installed, more on that later. We found Aziz's place (can't remember the name), as it's the one with dozens of flags around it on the main road to the university, just around the corner from the entrance. We enjoyed chicken and lamb shwarmas, a huge salad topped off with chicken, and yes, more rums cheerfully served by Aziz. To finish things off we had ice cream next door; none of us really needed that. Our plan is to leave here in the morning for the short run to the St George anchorage, and stage there for the run up to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou the next day. Dave and MM leave for the States Friday for a holiday visit, and will be taking Leu Cat to Trinidad upon their return. We'll look forward to catching up with them sometime and place up the island chain; good times. This is all part of the cruising life; seeing friends, making new friends, then leaving friends as everyone moves off in different directions, to possibly hook up again "down the line." Prickly Bay's been a convenient stop; nice folks, lots to do and see, and good holding.

Dec 5 - Update

We're still here in Prickly Bay, and will be awhile. Budget Marine thinks the pump I ordered will be here Thursday; we'll see. Meanwhile, yesterday, we went with Dave of sv Leu Cat and had our propane bottle filled at Henry's house. After, Dave was kind enough to chase around a bit, so we took him to get a Digicel phone SIM, then the bank. Our Digicel SIM card wouldn't work in our dongle, so even after tech support fooled around with it, we finally put it in the iPad and will just have to get along that way. This morning, we took the "Shademan bus" around to a bunch of different stops. It picks up from the local marinas, and then stops at a bakery, Island Water World, CK's, and St George's downtown, before returning to the marina; cost 15EC/pp/return. For dinner, Dave cooked delicious steaks on the grill aboard Leu Cat. Dave and Mary Margaret had a series of boat system mishaps during their trans-Atlantic crossing, so are now getting organized for repairs and will be going to Trinidad for the bulk of them. We reviewed our experiences and contacts as a good "heads-up" with them. MM and Sue made desserts to die for, and we all had a great time renewing our friendship that started many years ago in Cartagena! The weather's been a bit squally, with winds in the 15-22 range, but the holding's good here, so no worries.

Dec 1 - Island Tour

We used Henry's Safari Tours (473 444 5313) for a full day tour of the island, along with Paul and Gina of sv Solace. Rawl, our driver, was a font of information, and a great driver to boot. We had considered a car hire, but after about an hour on the narrow roads, all decided we had made a good choice going the tour route and leaving the driving to the professionals. Each tour is customized according to the wishes of the passengers. We left Spice Island Marina and traveled the road around the town of St George, missing the traffic but getting great views of everything. Our destination was the Concord Waterfalls, where we stretched our legs and also learned about nutmeg harvesting. We continued north to Gouyave, where we went into one of the few nutmeg processing facilities on the island, the GCNA Nutmeg Processing Plant. Although Hurricane Ivan decimated about 90% of the nutmeg industry here, Grenada still provides about a third of the world's nutmeg production, so it was quite interesting to take the short tour of the plant. After, we went north to the Jouvray chocolate farm, where we learned a bit about making chocolate. Of course, we bought a few bars to take back. Lunch was at a restaurant at the top of the island in the small town of Sauteurs. After, it was off to the River Antoine Rum Distillery. We all had high hopes of a hidden gem here, as it is the oldest working, non-automated rum mill on island. Got to say, it was like sipping moonshine and not to our palates; there were no purchases made. We chose to make the Grand Etang Forest Reserve our last stop, as it was getting on in the afternoon and we wanted to make a brief detour to the IGA supermarket. Overall, we had an enjoyable day and felt the price of the excursion, although a bit on the high side, worthwhile. The scenery was beautiful, the stops informative, and the driver very accommodating; a good experience, and we returned to our boats before sunset.
Pic: View from the hillside road of the Carenage, St. George's Harbor.

Nov 30 - A busy day

A big day here. We checked in with Officialdom this morning. For cruisers following us, pre-register with SailClear; it makes things a lot easier when it comes to the paperwork of clearing-in. After, we ate breakfast, then went over to Budget Marine. With our new clearance paperwork from Customs, we were able to set up our VAT-free account, which saves 15% on any purchase. The first-choice pump I had picked out in the catalog had gone up about $180USD from the 2015 to the 2016 catalog...are you kidding me? I chose my next pump,much more reasonably priced; there were two at the Budget Marine in St Martin, so one will have to be shipped here. No problem; arrival is expected in 7-10 days. After a quick lunch aboard, we decided to go to St. George; it was quite an experience. The mini-buses cram more people in than you'd think possible; no one seems to care, the radio is blaring full volume, and the driver is hell-bent-for weather; don't get in his way. First stop was Scotia Bank, where there doesn't appear to be a limit on withdrawal amounts; then to Digicel, where we bought a data Sim (side note: still can't get the bloody thing to work...), then to several fabric stores, then to a barber for me to get a that time it was close to 3:30 and time to find a bus back to the marina. No problem; the ride back on the No. 1 bus was faster than the one going into town, and we were in the dinghy riding back to the boat in 30 minutes. At Prickly Bay Marina, we paid 5EC each for FW showers (remember, our watermaker isn't commissioned yet...), and are now sitting at happy hour enjoying the free internet and good company.
Pic: We took a local bus to St. George's (the capitol and BUSY city), and found a barber for Michael.