Now keep in mind this story is second hand. Steve, who as a cruiser visited Grenada about the same time we did, relayed this story to me. He and his admiral had chosen to go to an “Oil Down” in Grenada. An Oil Down is where a bunch of people gather, bring something to eat, throw about anything edible into a huge pot, cook it into a soup / stew all the while hanging around imbibing and telling stories – some may be true; some not, you decide.
Steve had overheard one of the taxi drivers referring to a group of people as Goats. Curiosity got the better of him and he inquired of the driver as to what a goat is. Since the driver had been enjoying the liquid refreshments; a little more then good driver would dictate, and since he was having a good time, and since the motor control between his mouth and brain had been slightly impaired by the contents of what he had been consuming he went on to describe what a goat is and what a cow is as currently understood by the “tourist” industry in the islands; specifically Grenada.
Now understand that people eat goats in the islands. Goat isn’t a particular delicacy and goat doesn’t have a great deal of meat on it. But in essence, if you have goats you may never get fat and happy; but too, you’ll never starve to death!
Cows on the other hand have lots of meat on them. In Dominica; Dhillon, our tour guide had said one cow is equal to about 10 goats. One can live off a cow for a very long time, can actually get fat and will stay happy.
Goats and Cows are Tourists! Goats are cruisers, Cows are cruise ship people.
We left Trinidad after all our boat projects we completed and we had a wx window. Neil on Early Out casually informed us of a disturbance that Chris Parker said would strengthen in the next day or so; however, our trip would be overnight and if we couldn’t sail, we could drive (motor 🙁 ).
After a nice lunch at the Crews Inn Restaurant with Lee and Sharon on Allegro we paid our bill and cast off the lines. The boat was in the best shape she’s been in since leaving New Port Richey, FL ; at least that is what we had thought. We cast off and motored out the cut and out of the only harbor we’ve been in in Trinidad.
There we headed N around the bend and looked for the magic 12 nm mark that our friends on Coho told us about. Gordon said that Trinidad effects the Trade Winds for about 12 nm. After a couple of hours of motoring and close to the 12 nm magical line we felt that there might be enough wind to sail. There wasn’t a lot of wind, but we had left a little early anticipating a light breeze (as per the GRIB files).
Shutting down the engine to sail is always a joy. One of the true high points of the sailing life. Engines are a necessary evil. When you need them they are so valuable. When you don’t, they are just so obnoxious. With the engine off and the sails pulling, the boat takes on a life of it’s own. It breathes the air, it moves to the sea as a dancer moves to the music. We are not on the boat, we are not in the boat, we are one with the boat.
There are a couple of things to miss between Trinidad and Grenada, Oil wells, ships, and Pirates. Fortunately there haven’t been any pirate attacks here in almost a year. To aid the small boats crossings between Grenada and Trinidad the Trinidad Coast Guard has an email address that boaters are encouraged to use to inform them of their float plan and they are said to keep watch on your trip. We never saw them. That doesn’t mean they weren’t around. Our friends on Lison Life were boarded by them when they made the trip, another cruiser we knew of was met by them approx 10 nm from Trinidad and escorted in. It’s nice to know they’re there, and it was nice to make the passage without any interference by either the CG or Pirates.
Oil wells are another matter. Texas has so many and there are some unlit wells. Wells are always to have lights but some unused wells have automatic lights and most things automatic eventually fail. However, the wells here are occupied and have full crews so they’re well lit. We could see them for 15 to 20 miles at night. Easy to avoid them.
Ships are however different from wells. They move, they are many different light configurations, such as towing, being towed, fishing, anchored and simply going like a bat outta hell somewhere. Not to worry. Before we left the US last year we installed AIS (Automatic Information System) that reads boat positions (on ships), speed, course and destination. It is sweet. So I went to fire that system up and connect it to the computer; viola, NOTHING!
What? Nothing! Oh No! W/ loves that system. Oh! Oh! I fiddle with it for a good 15 minutes before I give up. One system we worked on in Trinidad was the VHF. Before I purchased a new radio I had done diagnostics on the old one and that most likely meant I disconnected the AIS from the VHF system and never remembered to connect it back up. Put that fix on the list to complete in Grenada. Fortunately this is not a high traffic route like Panama, Yucatan Straits, or the Gulf Stream off of Florida. Tonight we won’t have AIS and fortunately we only saw two ships out there.
Anyway; we were sailing, the Sun had set so I went below to get a shot at the first off watch. I tossed and turned and W/ said I slept some. Ok; maybe I did. I arose about midnight and we figured we needed to run the generator to recharge the refrigeration. So on the generator went. Check the water flow; Good. Wait for the generator to warm up and then start the refrigeration compressor. The Generator warms up; I get ready to turn on the refrigeration compressor and the “Hi Temp” light comes on. W/ quickly checks the water flow and none. Shut the generator down. I look bewildered. We wait 10 minutes and try again. Engine comes on, all goes well, the engine warms up and then alternator kicks in; the “Hi Temp” light comes on again and the raw water flow stops! Damn! Damn! I can’t believe it. Fortunately we’ll be in and anchored by the am and I can solve the issue then. That’s two major systems not working! Damn!
W/ goes down for some R n R. Generally we do 2 hours on and 2 hours off but in short passages where we’ve an over night it is more as we feel. She gave me close to 3 hours and I figure to do much of the same. But as one hour goes by and the wind has shifted a bit we’ve gone off course. We have a rule that neither of us leaves the cockpit without the other on deck. Yeah we have Jack Lines that we tie into them offshore and always at night – but still we want another person up on deck. She and I can sleep easier knowing that the other isn’t taking any unnecessary risk. So I rouse her for a couple of minutes and I go to adjust the wind vane for the course we want. All’s adjusted she now falls back to sleep and I settle in for a gorgeous evening sail.
Two hours later I wake her and we switch. I get an hour or so before we’re close enough to land that we both need to be on deck. Remember; for boats, land is the dangerous stuff. We’re close enough, and it’s too dark to actually enter the harbor. We reduce sail area and thus our speed drops so we hope to arrive at Sun rise. We pull in the Jib and sail on the Main only. This drops our speed from 5-6 kts to 2-3 kts. We slowly approach land. As the Sun rises we’re able to see the harbor and markers for the entrance.
Markers in any of the islands are always suspect. We follow them some and use them for guidance; but, mostly we use the charts and in this case our old tracks in and out. We had been in and out of this harbor twice so I still have our GPS tracks in and out of the harbor. We follow the track in that led us out and we thankfully enter Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada. Once we’re clear of the reefs I scramble down below and dig out our Q flag signaling that the boat is under a Quarantine until I can go ashore and meet with Health, Immigration, and Customs officials.
Once anchored we use a halyard to remove the dinghy off the back of the boat. I row ashore and walk across the hill to Customs in Prickly Bay. Therein I complete the formalities and return to the boat. In Mt. Hartman Bay there is some boat movement as there are many who believe that the storm Neil told me about was strengthening and some were adding more ground tackle while others were moving to the dock. We simply left our awnings stowed and added more chain. We’re good…. we hope. 🙂
Yep, there is some progress. We’ve ordered all that we can afford. 🙂 We actually now have
the butcher block tops replaced on the refrigerator and the freezer with Meganite. We came up with the idea of putting a “Star” in the top of the refrigerator and that turned out nice.
We picked a light color for the Meganite and it is BRIGHT! You might be able to get an idea from the before and after pic. Right now they look a little “large” on the box but that may just be our getting use to them. We’re thinking of adding a border somewhere down the road. Don’t know yet. Since posting this blog I’ve discovered that some of the website info on our refrigeration system was never completed. I’ve made sure it’s all available now. The other pages relating to this subject are: Overview, Instalation, and Finished (not). I’ve created a pictoral history of the various stages of the works: General Installlation, Insulation, Layout, and Liners.
90% of the Varnish is completed. All the SS has been polished. We hired a local guy; Sean, for 400 TT / day and he did a top notch job. Of course no one does it like the owners but we were satisfied with his work and he did work hard. With him sanding / prepping all the wood we just needed to add varnish. That’s still a bit o’ work. All we have left to varnish now is the starboard caprail. We’ve been limited on how much we can varnish because most every day it rains. It’s raining right now as I write this. The Varnish we use (Signature Finishes – Honey Teak) requires about 2 hours of time to dry enough that rain won’t effect it. Hail would; but we’ve not had any hail here. Once it dries to where the wx won’t effect it; the varnish is still soft and can be marred or scratch for another 6 – 8 hours.
Our new cushion covers are being made. Well; almost. Once at the marine fabric shop our upholsterer said we needed new foam. Damn! So we said ok. Then he bought the foam and we checked about foam for the dinette. Need new there too. Damn! So we’ve now given him money to purchase that foam too. He has the cushions for our main salon and we’re close to sitting on the benches only. We’ve moved a couple of cushions so we have something under our bottom but it’s not like home; yet. We hope it will be soon.
After the varnishing I get to redo the aft head and the plumbing there. (Can’t say I like plumbing – plumbers deserve their pay). We’ll see about scheduling a haul date for the boat. Once hauled we’ll do some tourist stuff while the boat is out of the water; then we’re outta here!
Too, we’ve been getting back into shape. Exercise on a boat is rather limited. W/ began running in Grenada and doing some Yoga. When we pulled into the marina here in Trinidad we began to jump rope in the am (only 3 days / week). Also we’ve added some stretching to our workouts. She’s been trying (and it isn’t easy) to stretch my legs and hips (straight leg hamstring stretches). I lay back on the floor and she lifts my leg towards the ceiling. At first I could only point my toes towards the door, but now I”m getting a little more movement in the lower half of my body! Then too W/ has been making me do the yogo “Tree“. The good news is that I can actually do it! 🙂
When we hiked the Appalacian Trail one summer we heard tails of true altruism. One such tale involved a hike along the ridge in the White Mountains. We heard this from the horses mouth; oh, I mean hikers mouth. The hiker was walking along on a beautiful clear day and 5 minutes later the weather had changed to a white out. A cloud had ascended and made visibility almost nil. Nothing to do but continue on. He was following the cairns and an hour or so later slipped and was about to go sliding down the very steep side of the mountain. Out of whiteness reached a hand, hauled him back up the the trail and the hiker that had saved him simply kept on walking, while he caught his breath and took a moment to calm down. He never met that hiker, the hiker never stayed to be thanked. That IMHO is altruism.
In Grenada, friends of ours on Passport had gone on a day hike. Having completed their hike they arrived back at their boat, paid the driver, removed all their gear and retired for the evening. A few hours later, the driver came by the marina asking where Passport was. He had their wallet. Somehow, IB had paid the driver and the wallet fell out of his pocket into a seat in the Taxi while they were removing their stuff. He received the wallet back with everything in it. And I mean everything!
In Trinidad we’re ordering supplies. There are 3 girls that do the work at a place called MarineWarehouse, they have contacts all through the US and we order what we need, then they combine the items and ship it to Trinidad by ocean freight. One day a cruiser had come in to pay for his supplies. He charged them on his credit card and during the transaction began to ask about a health club he could go to before he flew out of Trinidad the following day. Unbeknownst to him, after the transaction was completed his CC had worked it’s way under some papers on the desk and off he went to sweat and pack for his trip home. The girl at the desk came upon the card 30 minutes later and knew the owner wouldn’t be a happy camper if he ended up at the airport and discovered it missing and not even close to a happy camper should he have made it back to the continent and found it gone. She chased him down at the health club, returned his card to him and I’m sure made a life long customer out of him.
Now we’re not hiking on any trails. But I would call either of those stories “magic”, selfless acts of islanders making sure visitors experience their islands as a little bit O’ heaven.
Yep, that’s my score. I went on 3 trips or tours in Grenada. Zero wins for me, Two losses, and one tie. The trip to Guave was pretty mediocre, and the Turtle watch IMHO was a bust. The last one I went on was to Carnival was the Pan (Steel Drum Bands) concert and that was just ok.
We all crammed into a bus / taxi and rode the 5 miles like Tuna to the National Stadium. The steel drum part was excellent, the venue implementation was horrible!
Some of the bands had almost 100 steel drums! The sound was quite good, the players were excellent, but the organization was miserable. It was held in the National Stadium and the bands played out in the field on a stage under a canopy. Part of the Pan experience is being close and seeing the musicians work the music. We could have walked down and stood in front but only for a short time. Each Band played two or three songs, then they moved all the equipment off the stage so the next one could move on the stage. And to move they basically had to wait for one band to clear the stage and then the other came on. They didn’t move their instruments on and off in the same direction; thus a traffic jam. During the intermission (if that’s what you want to call it) they had a singer come on the stage and perform one of his songs, (if the band wasn’t yet ready and the never were) they played the song agin without him on stage, and if they still weren’t set up yet, they replayed the same song a third time. Overall it ran about 30 minutes / band setup and take down of which the band played for a max of 10 minutes. 🙁
So that’s my score. Of course Grenada has much more to offer then simply tours and Carnival, and that’s what we loved. The people were great, the anchorage comfortable, services and supplies were available. But like any good thing it all must come to an end. It was time to leave and get our summer boat work done down in Trinidad, get hauled out and then begin our trek west.
We looked at the GRIB files (Weather predictions put out by the NOAA), we looked at the radar from Guadaloupe, and we looked at satellite photos of the southern Caribbean. Since the Sun was almost directly overhead, Monday looked like a day we could motor to Trini. When the Sun is on top of you we have no wind and thus what most people call the Doldrums. We checked out of Grenada in the am and began prepping the boat, storing stuff, putting the dinghy on deck, getting the self steering ready, etc. We checked the radar and GRIB files again, it all looked good. We pulled up anchor at about 4 pm, said goodbye over the VHF and motored out of the harbor.
The seas were benign and the wind; if you could say there was any, was quite light. With the light breeze off the beam, W/ talked me into putting up the staysail with the hope that it would steady the boat. It did a little so we motor sailed south.
I tried to rest for a bit while W/ took the first watch. After my hanging out below unable to sleep but having laid down for a couple of hours I replaced W/ on deck and she retired below. She’d been watching a good light show (lightening) her entire watch. The moon wasn’t up. It was pitch black out and the horizon would could only be seen by the flashes of electricity every few seconds. I thought it would be a good show and a boring motor.
How wrong I was. About 30 minutes after W/ retired the wind hit. Fortunately the Staysail is rather small and it handled the winds fine. The autopilot however is setup and designed up for a calm windless passage. Inside of 5 minutes we went from calm with little wind to lots of winds and building seas. I took the autopilot off line and started to hand steer. Remember; we’re going S and I’ll bet you can guess where the wind was from! Yep from the S.
I’m now hand steering and we’re still motoring. The seas are building and fun is not the best description of my watch. W/ was going to come on deck and I let her know she wasn’t needed. I was simply driving the boat S as best as I could. I would motor sail off course but in southerly quadrant as much as possible. Generally, these squalls that move through last less then an hour before the wind settles down but this was different. This one lasted over an hour, the seas built and had short wave lengths. On several we actually crashed down into one off the bow before the last one had cleared the stern. The “Boom” of the water slamming into the bottom of the bow sprit was frightening and we had that happen several times before the rains came and the wind
died. (Once in Trinidad I saw the damage the slamming into the waves did! However; the piece of teak that was knocked off had already had one screw broken loose by the anchor!) Another boat we met in Trinidad had blown out their mainsail and felt the winds reached 50 kts. I however didn’t feel it blew over 30 kts. The rain stung like 1,000’s of small needles pricking my face at short quick random intervals. Eventually the wind abated, the rain stopped and W/ replaced me on deck. My watch ended up 3 hours later and I had hoped W/ slept some. We set up the autopilot again, I retired below and W/ stayed on watch for any problems. The motor sailing had pushed us to a better path to Trinidad and we were now East of our rhumb line. This was a good thing as the current moves SE to NW through this opening.
We arrived at Trinidad approx 10 am so great we won’t have any overtime charges for Customs and Immigration. We pulled into Chaguaramas and motored through all the trash in the water. Trinidad has had some horrendous rains with rivers flooding and so we had tide lines filled with so much debris that when we motored through one I heard the prop hit something. I hope it was soft enough that we didn’t damage a blade. Overall the propulsion system sounds fine but we’ll eventually see if there was any real damage when we haul out.
Every place seems to have it’s own special ambiance. Dominica – rainbows and boat boys; Antigua – classic yachts and a sense of style; the BVI’s is best described as Disney World for boaters.
As we’ve gotten closer to South America the natural world seems to be changing. Around St. Martin, and Antigua I don’t recall Butterflies, certainly not in any of the abundance I see here. Also we saw very few seagulls and no pigeons or doves. In Grenada the Dove is the Grenadian National Bird and while Doves in general seem abundant the national bird is on a precipice for survival. Today I even saw a hawk. Not sure if any hawks are in any of the islands north of here.
But the butterflies grabbed my attention. They’re all over, by the thousands! They’re the small variety
Pieridae. Some yellow, lots of whites and a few chocolate mixed in. The most difficult thing is trying to grab them in a photo. I’ve shot almost a hundred pictures getting these few butterflies posing! They move as I move. We walk by a stand of flowers or pasture of grass and they’re all about. We stop they stop ( and then my pictures show nothing!) We move they move (then my pictures show a small colored blur!) We walked a trail cut through the National Park by the Four Seasons Corp (Check in the middle of the page for the story). The Four
Seasons had been working on developing the area for homes and while there is a controversy over their methods, the economy has effectively slowed their work to a standstill. However, they’ve left a nice road – path through the park and we walked out to the bay to the East of us. We were alone on the path, alone except for the 1,000’s of butterflies, 6 horses, one bull, and a few birds. We walked past a bog (most of the mosquitoes had settled back down for the day) up over a ridge and to the next bay.
If butterflies are the place where the soul goes when you die, then Grenada is obviously a slice of heaven.
Yep, even paradise has a worm in the Apple. And you know what they say about why it’s better to find 1/2 a worm in the Apple versus none; if you find none then obviously you’ve already eaten the worm. Ok, Ok, I know it’s lame.
Truly, the turtle experience reminded me of the book Confederacy of Dunces. Julie on Sea Otter had contacted Keith about a Leatherback Turtle watching tour. She had arranged for us to pick up a local sandwich called a Roti and then we would get to the beach head and wait for the Turtles to show up and deposit their eggs on the Beach. We were informed that there was a 75% chance of having this happen. But it was what we were not informed of that made the trip a mess.
We arrived on time at the marina where the Taxi was to pick us up. We were to be given red flashlights at the beach head and if we had any of our own we were to bring them. The light we are told will not distract the turtles. There we were informed that we wouldn’t be stopping for Roti’s but instead we would stop at KFC (of all places). Fortunately W/ and I had a large late lunch, not sure if we really wanted another Roti. They are good and they’re full of Curry. Curry can only go so far in my diet.
So off we went, taking the Magic Moutain ride through scenic Grenada, we arrived at KFC after sunset. We ate on the luxurious (not) wooden tables down the street. The town dogs were waiting for scraps, and we ate rather quickly and went.
Then we arrived at the Levera Beach head where there is a small building with some restrooms and a new guide. She tells us a little about the turtles; conflicting some with what we’ve picked up from the internet; oh well, it is the Caribbean. But what concerns us is that she’s already downplaying the possibility of seeing any turtles laying eggs. She also said that most of the season for laying is now over! Wait; did anyone tell us that before we left for the tour? In addition she didn’t pass out any “red” lights. Not good.
We depart the Beach building and head down the road to the beach where some local and imported “researchers” (from Ocean Spirits) are to be doing beach sweeps roughly every 1/2 hour. They’re to be sweeping from each end towards the middle and then when they see a turtle they’re to call the guide and then take us to the turtle. We’re brought to the beach and deposited to wait. We had been told to bring mosquito spray and blankets for waiting on the beach. At the Levera Beach Center there were some wooden picnic tables and no one could understand why there wasn’t any table or seating out here. This is after all an organized “Tour”. There were also no toilets anywhere around; fortunately no one required any and I guess the ocean would have accommodated any needs.
About an hour into our wait the “researchers” discovered some Leatherback babies wandering around on the beach. They gathered them up; put them in a bucket to show us. No one from the group was able to go see them wandering the beach or even where the hatchlings came from. We were informed that the “researchers” never found the nest.
After about 10 minutes of everyone looking into the bucket and attempting to take pictures with red lights the guide let them go and they wandered (with some help from a light) to the sea.
Then we waited. The researchers never came back to do a beach sweep. We waited. After another hour passed by and no beach sweep we were informed that they were tired and wouldn’t be doing another sweep, and also that the park closed at midnight and we had to go. WAIT? WHAT?
We were never informed of any of this. In fact one site implies that the females don’t often arrive till after 11:30.
Finally after some grumbling (what were we to do) we all climbed in the taxi’s for the ride back. The driver thought if he provided us with some Rum and Coke’s or Carib’s (beer) we would take it much better. That was not to be. And while all the Taxi’s look full size; personally I’m not sure they are. I can never seem to get comfortable in any of them. I was however only awakened once when the driver left the curve of the roadway for a driveway and came to an abrupt; but slightly bumpy halt.
Personally I’m not going on another Turtle Tour here again until there are some changes to how they operate. There should be a guarantee that you’ll see what you take the tour for. Oh; I know, it’s Mother Nature and all that, but hell; Sport fisherman in Florida guarantee that you’ll catch fish or you don’t pay them. Fish too are related to Mo’ Nature – No? The tour operators need to communicate to each other before hand. The Taxi driver said one thing, the guide another and we never even got to talk to a magical “researcher” (which by the way you can pay to become!)
I felt that someone (I don’t know if it was the researchers, guide or driver) figured since we saw baby Leatherbacks then we got our money’s worth. Not in my book! I want my money back. I know I won’t receive a refund but I can help ensure others don’t fall prey to what I consider an island fiasco.
ps This hasn’t soured me on Grenada. Just on organized tours that aren’t very organized. I too will be more cautious here and in other countries.
Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh
Here I am at Camp Granada
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining!
We’ll we’re almost back in 1963. Grenada for sailors isn’t much different from a summer camp. Most any
day there are multitudes of activities one can do: The Train Game (mindless), Go to place A for Happy Hour, go to place B for movies, go to place C for TV sports. Then if you don’t like any of those you can take an island tour for a reasonable fee of $25 US, you can go to the weekly fish festival in Guav that’s every
Friday and lasts longer then most any cruiser can stay awake. On Saturdays during the school year you can volunteer for a “Reading Club” at Mt. Airy (we were able to twice), you can share happy hour with any of the 100’s of cruising boats hanging out here to hopefully watch the hurricanes go N of us. You can get certified in diving and dive all over the island. You can trade / sell advertise stuff from your vast 🙂 boat stores on the VHF six mornings a week at 7:30 am.
And of course much of the above can be accomplished even during the rain. Yep, just like the song; it’s been raining here off and on daily for the last 10 days. We have had about 4 Tropical Waves pass through, we’ve opened and closed hatches and ports a hundred times.
We have snuck off the boat between rain showers. We’ve participated in the “Reading Club” the last two times. They even let me read aloud to the group; which BTW I enjoy. The kids all hung with
the adults like this is the last taste of attention they’ll have for a long, long time! We had a taxi take us to the Mt. Airy community center and like all taxi rides in any of the islands the trip rivals any of Disney Worlds “Magic Mountain” or “Space Mountain” experiences. But as you can tell, we’ve survived the ride and had the thrills that come with island travel.
We’ve also walked around quite a bit. Farther then we’d planned but walking too far always gives us the excuse to find a nearby restaurant. We ate at the “Big Fish”; found it too toursity and full of flies, we’ve eaten at the first Chinese restaurant we’ve seen in months and that effected my digestive track (enough info I hope 🙂 ). We’ve taken the cruisers taxi which is a van that picks up the cruisers at the marinas and ferries them over the hills and around the corners to most of the places boaters / cruisers want or need to go; ie Marine store, Bank, Mall, Grocery Store, Liquor Store, and sometimes misc stops.
In general Grenada is one of the stops that weaves a web around you, trapping you and making sure you almost never leave. There are cruisers here who have hung out for years. We don’t expect to be one of them, there is just too much world out there we haven’t seen and we want to see more of it. Spearfishing still is unavailable to me, we’ve some boat projects to do, we’ll hang here for another week or two then head to Trinidad to complete the projects we want, maybe haul (?), then come back here before our trip west. Some cruisers have been to the islands of Venezuela and say the out islands are safe. We’ll talk to them. We’ll see. Plans are written in water.