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29 June 2011

Chaguaramas, Trinidad

We left True Blue in the early afternoon on the 27th, and made an afternoon stop at Hog Island, to have a swim and a rest before the overnight passage to Trinidad. It was a good sail, but a bit on the "good exciting" side of the scale; the winds were around 20 knots or so from the east, and the seas on the high side of the forecasted 5-7 feet. We did what I think of as our usual watch schedule: Susan 1800-2200, Leigh 2200-0200, JP 0200-0600. No one slept much; it was hot and a bit bouncy below decks, and there was a squall around 1130 and then we needed to stay a mile away from the Hibiscus oil and gas platform that is about 30 miles off the coast of Trinidad, so JP stayed around after the squall for that maneuver.

JP put the engine on about 10 miles from the coast, as the wind was both "variable" and squally, and we came through the Boca de Monos into Chaguaramas around 0700. We were on the dock at Customs and Immigration by 0830; the process was pretty painless and we were in our slip at Crews Inn at 0920.

Here are some Grenada and Trinidad pictures:
2011 06 Grenada

It is hot here, as expected, and we 1) do not have an a/c because the pump was on its last legs so JP took it out in Grenada (a new one is on order and due here on Friday) 2) do not have POWER during the day because the electric company is working on things at the marina from 0800-1400(ish) during the day, so the a/c we rented after chasing one all over town isn't much help and 3)it rains regularly and sometimes HARD so having the hatches open is a problem. Not a great start to our planned several month stay here, but I will probably feel better when the a/c and power problem is resolved (fingers crossed, by Saturday sometime).

We have prepared the maintenance list and are getting ready to take it to the yard to get the process started. It's kind of a daunting prospect to think of leaving her here for nearly three months anyway, and when I look at the list I am even more anxious. This has been the plan all along, but now that it is "real", it doesn't look so easy to do as it was to say all these months.

On a funnier and more positive note, a story. Years ago, my friend Joan gave me/us a copy of the book "An Embarrassment of Mangoes", by Ann VanderHoof. Ann and her husband, Steve Manley, are a Canadian couple who took a two year Caribbean sailing sabbatical (about 15 years ago) on their 42-foot sailboat Receta; she wrote about the adventure when they got back to Toronto, and I am sure one can find many a dog-eared copy of the book in the collections of many folks who have done or want to do the same thing - me included. They got back to the Caribbean on a more or less full time basis about five years ago, and last year, around the time we were getting ready to head out, she published a second book, focused almost exclusively on the food of the region, called Spice Necklace. (EOM had a lot of food stuff too, including a number of Island recipes and cooking stories). I have both on my Kindle.

It has become a running joke on Raconteur that I consult "Ahhhnnnn" the way other cruisers consult people like Van Sant, Street, Chris Parker, Herb Hilgenberg, "What does Ahhhnnn say?" "Ahhhhnnnn says...." "Ahhhnnnn and Steve said...." etc. Even our fishing technique borrows a (jokey)bit from them.

SO: maybe nine years from Joan's gift of the book, several charters, the purchase of Raconteur, the voyages to and from the Chesapeake and Lauderdale and the Bahamas, and the 3,200 miles of this cruise later....we pulled in to the dock at Crews Inn (I was struggling not to be sideways and not to hit Blue Horizons, the boat in the next slip), I looked up, and saw....Ann VanderHoof, walking down the dock toward Receta, in the slip opposite and two slips away.

Kind of a nice coda to this leg of the journey.

23 June 2011

Carriacou, and the "home" stretch

Here are our photos of the Grenadines, including Carriacou:

2011 06 Grenadines and Carriacou

After Bequia we headed first for Mayreau, which has a very small "half moon" beach and anchorage; we had a nice beach barbecue, but the anchorage was horribly rolly. We now classify anchorages not "rolly" and "not rolly", but by HOW rolly...Mayreau was maybe a 7.5 on a 10 point scale. It's not life-threatening, but can make cooking, sleeping and general maintenance much more challenging and tiring.
From Mayreau, to Union Island; we have very fond memories of our first stay there, on a charter in 2005, despite that fact that Susan injured her good knee on the way there and we needed to find a doctor (who assured her, correctly, that it wasn't irrevocably damaged, and that a few weeks would heal it, which was exactly the case). Anyway, we were interested to go back to see if it was as we remembered it (including Happy Island, the pile of conch shells turned beach bar that featured in our Christmas Card that year). It is truly a lovely, amazing anchorage, right on the reef (both times we were led in by a local "boat boy", this time Angelo, and took a mooring from him). We stayed several nights, did indeed revisit Janti on Happy Island (in a wild squall); we found a little market called Captain's Gourmet (I think), with a French woman proprietress (and homemade yogurt), and generally enjoyed the stay very much, despite the regular squalls. We are having a series of tropical waves, every four days or so, so we are traveling with an eye on them.
After Union, we headed for a night on Petite Martinique, which is one of the three islands (with Carriacou) that makes up Grenada. It is a fishing village, off the path of most cruisers, and we had an enjoyable (and only moderately rolly) overnight there.

As I write, we have been at Carriacou for several days, and will head off tomorrow to Grenada for our last stops before the passage to Trinidad.

Alex complained that our pictures are not "Fair and Balanced", so we tried to take a few of the "other side" of life in Paradise; not sure we really succeeded, but here they are:


To be honest, I think we try not to be excessively "American" in our views of things that are different here, but of course we don't always succeed with that either...

14 June 2011

Bequia, Grenadines, in a thunderstorm

Susan and I came ashore to drop off our propane tank to be refilled, drop a bag of trash, pick up a few groceries, and scope out a place for dinner. I stopped by an internet shop, and have been uploading the photos from the Pitons:


and from our couple of days in Bequia so far


It is raining like crazy, with some thunder and lightning, probably the advance party for a tropical wave that is due here soon. We will probably stay through tomorrow (the propane won't be ready until noon-ish anyway), and then we are planning to stop at Mayreau, maybe the Tobago Cays, and then Union, before heading to Carriacou (which is part of Grenada) and then on to Grenada proper. We are only a couple of weeks from the end of this leg. When I can, I will post an updated log of our journey. We have logged almost 2,900 nautical miles since we left Kent Island in October.

06 June 2011

Martinique and new friends

After a few very nice days in Dominica, mostly in Prince Rupert Bay near Portsmouth, and one overnight in Roseau, we headed on Saturday morning for Fort-de-France, Martinique. In the end we decided against anchoring right off the city (the largest in the Caribbean) and headed for a place called Trois Ilets on the other side of the bay.
We had a big adventure on the way: We caught a large swordfish, which yielded 33 pounds of fish. When we got to the anchorage, we sought out fellow cruisers to share our bounty. Neighbors on Dreams at Sea and on Magus happily took us up on our offer.
In return, Magus had us and Tsamaya for dinner on board last night - a gourmet feast, as Yani on Magus is a trained French chef, Indonesian-born. Tonight we will have sundowners with Dreams at Sea.
Tomorrow we will likely head on south to Rodney Bay on St. Lucia, and perhaps a little marina stay.
I am typing on a French keyboard, so don't really have the patience for much more hunt and peck!