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28 February 2012

Definitely maybe moving soon, if...

Since my last post, Susan has returned to Raconteur (on the 14th of February), and I have left and returned (out to Lauderdale on the 15th, back on board on the 19th). The solar project took place mostly while I was away, but I was back for the final connections and the first power on the 20th; we are just thrilled with it so far. It powers the fridge, the computers and the phones and keeps the batteries at a reasonable level throughout; our inverter is not big enough for getting hot water using only solar, but we have found a couple of improvisations for that - a solar shower (the water heats during the day and we just hang it on the transom when we want to wash off the salt and shower in the late afternoon), and a small teakettle that we use to heat water to wash dishes.

I ran the gen for an hour or so this morning, as it was raining and I wanted to charge up the pc for managing some photos; I think that is only the second time since in nine days. We had been running it TWICE a day just to keep up with the refrigeration needs. So, the solar project (two 205-watt panels, mounted above the bimini and over the transom) is on its way to being well worth the money, time and aggravation.

Meanwhile, however, we missed a good window for going north, and then rejected, probably mistakenly, a fair window. At the moment we are looking at winds 20 gusting near 30 and seas well over 10 feet, so it's a no-go. Our redoubtable weather guru Chris Parker says we will see the wind down in the 18-20 range and seas down to 8 feet at an 8 second interval by late Friday into Saturday, so IF that holds we will make a first jump, from Grenada to Bequia in the Grenadines. Next week's forecast models have not yet converged (one has much milder conditions than the other), but we think we might get a second window around the 10th of March. We want to be in Martinique by the 12th, and we fly on the 15th to Paris and then on to Nice.

Our stay here in Grenada continues to be delightful, despite the future-travel-date stress. Leigh took a "watercolor for dummies" class last week and will take a second; I even produced a first effort that is not totally embarrassing (see above). I'm really doing it for fun, and it was that.

We are continuing to (mostly) cook on board, though I never seem to be able to remember what we've had. Let's see - more callaloo soup, more pumpkin soup, a first attempt at christophene soup (delicious - we had it cold); chickpea and cauliflower curry; a fresh grouper filet (about a pound and three quarters) dusted in flour, dipped in egg and cream, dipped in panko, and sauteed in butter; geera pork; guacamole and salsa island-style. I'm going to try a callaloo lasagne tomorrow.

I'm sure I am forgetting many things; here is a slideshow (sorry, lots of boat project and at-the-dock photos). I am playing with Picasa's new photo effects (sorry Alex) - just to keep things interesting.

13 February 2012

A random day in the life on Raconteur

I picked a random day to take some notes about life aboard; I knew we would be moving but these notes were taken as things happened.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

I awake with the sun but decide to sleep in a bit. On most days, I would be up for the 0730 Grenada Cruisers Net, but it runs only from Monday to Saturday, so today I get up just before 0800. JP had been up for almost two hours already, working on various things to get us ready to leave the dock at Secret Harbour. He is in Scheherazade trying to open the lock that we keep on the dinghy engine; it's been in place about a month, but is stuck shut. I get some spray lubricant for him from the lazarette in the saloon (this involves removing three cushions) but that doesn't work so the lock is still on.

I make a third trip up and down the companionway to get my camera, because it is such a pretty morning; JP bungees the small blue kayak back onto the dinghy in preparation for our trip back to Prickly. At JP's request, I take a photo of the totally chafed rode that is part of the device we use to keep the anchor in place once it's down. JP then puts away the hose that is still out from the water top up he did yesterday. Moving the hose, filter, dock lines and power cords in and out of the cockpit lazarette is one of the joys of being at a dock.

I try calling Cattiva (Maria and Maurice) on VHF 68, the channel cruisers in Grenada use for communicating with one another; we know that they are heading to Trinidad soon but I am hoping they are still in Prickly and that we might be able to see them tonight before we go. No answer.

JP asks me if I will make breakfast; I say yes, and then I 1) Clean the last pot and two implements from yesterday (from the callaloo soup), dry them and put them away. Putting away the large pot involves getting down on my knees on the galley sole (there's a rug so it's not too painful), lifting out three smaller pots, and nesting them into the big pot. 2) Dig in the (top-loading) freezer, under the bag of ice and two bags of assorted protien) to find some kind of breakfast meat, and select two bratwurst. 3) Dig in the refrigerator for butter, English muffins and mango juice. 4) Move the large, heavy butcher block that covers the stovetop, and remove the pressure cooker and the pot holders that we store in the oven. 5) Cut mangoes, cook sausage, toast English muffins under the broiler (we had a toaster at one point but debarked it because it is useful only when we are plugged in somewhere. 6) Eat breakfast at the saloon table - Rosie-the-Veggie-Lady's mangoes are sweet, the sausages are good, and the EM's aren't burned.

I do a small fridge purge (not too many casualties - I am doing better with provisioning and using things timely - and then we decide to take a few things up to the Cruisers Jumble sale that starts at the marina at 1100 - in about 10 minutes. We select two small Breeze Boosters that work well but don't work for us any longer because we installed a dodger and it covers those particular hatches; the ionizing air purifier that runs only on a/c; the Seal-a-Meal that we used before we set off and maybe once while underway; the small OXO mandoline that I sent down to Trinidad with JP and Susan untested, because it is so much smaller that the one I had on board. Smaller - and MUCH less convincing; a full-length men's wetsuit size Large; and, after some deliberation, the port bike that we have used a few times on the ICW and once in Chaguaramas.

The sale is well underway when we arrive; we take a small table and chat with various folks we know; after a while we sell the wetsuit for EC100 to a guy on Starstream (not Larry), the mandoline to Hope on Starshine (for a contribution to the fund for the cruiser JT who suffered sunstroke), and the Seal-a-Meal to Larry on Starstream for EC40. We have some interest in the bike and the breeze boosters, and some curiosity about the ionizer, but these we take back to the boat. I have a long and fun chat with the folks on Miklo III about American politics, JP finishes up our departure preparations by taking a final electrical reading and putting away the cable, and we return to Raconteur.

I call Cattiva again, and this time Maria answers. When I tell her what we are doing, she offers to come handle the lines for us at Spice Island - such a sweetie. JP has said of course we can do it, but I am nervous, so happily accept.

We make a flawless (if I do say so myself) departure from the dock, and make our way out of the narrow entrance to Secret Harbour with no problem. It's blowing pretty hard (20 gusting 25) and the seas are maybe six or seven feet, but it's a very short trip.

It's a good thing the departure was flawless, because my arrival was anything but. We call Cattiva on our way in, and they jump in their dinghy and head over to Spice Island. I am so nervous about backing the boat into the slip (it's a concrete pier, really) that I don't notice the channel markers and I run us aground, briefly. It's soft mud and I know my baby pretty well, so I get us off in about 5 minutes. THEN I am backing pretty well, but TOO CLOSE to the corner of the pier, so I whack the rub rail on starboard toward the stern HARD, but Maria and Maurice are there to help straighten and the rest goes well. It's about 1600, and we agree to meet for pizza at the Tiki Bar (about a half mile back around into the bay for us) at 1800. They tell us that they are indeed heading for Trinidad overnight.

I take a most luxurious second shower of the day (very short) and change; JP also showers and changes and then gets the dinghy ready to roll (he had removed the gas tank this morning, for our trip). We dinghy over, tie and lock the dinghy to the dock, and take a table at the Tiki Bar. It's Movie Night and the kids feature is Aladdin; Maria and Maurice remember their kids (a boy and a girl) singing the entire score to them on long car trips. We share three pizzas and a lot of good talk (over the movie), and then they set off to get a little sleep before their passage and we head back to Raconteur.

We both stay up for a very short while after returning; it's rather warm for sleeping but it's only for a night or two (we hope).

10 February 2012

A busy weekend, and a sojourn to Secret Harbour

After a little whirlwind of weekend activities - the Mt. Airy Young Readers Program, the (disappointing) Super Bowl at de Big Fish [funny aside: Rikki was showing it on the big screen using ESPN on satellite, which was a great picture, but had to change it to the feed from Miami because...none of the commercials were being shown on the satellite version], a trip up to St. Paul's for the community center's pre-Independence Fair, and a visit to the Independence Day Parade at the stadium(and then back to St. Paul's for steel pan and oil down, cooked by our friends Stephen and Sean), we escaped rolly Prickly Bay for a few days. We motored over to Secret Harbour, the bay just to the east of Prickly, and tied up at the marina here. Other than the occasional workboat disturbance, it is really quiet. It's still blowing like crazy, though the wind is supposed to lay down for a day or two, Saturday to maybe Monday ("laying down" seems to mean less than 20 knots).

On Wednesday JP and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary with a dinner at a relatively new place near Secret Harbour; it's called The Cave House at Mt. Hartmann Bay, and it is both lovely and delicious, with wonderful service. Check out the website:

Early Monday we will head for the docks at Spice Island Marine (a boatyard, not a marina), where the solar project will be done (we hope). Susan and JP have done most of the wiring and installed the controller; TechNick will do the necessary welding and bending to mount the panels and then we will hook everything up with fingers crossed.

Susan is back in NH until the 14th, and we think we will start trying to head north around the 20th or so. It will not be easy to leave.

Here's a second slideshow; sorry, no captions, but I think most of what's happening is reasonably self-explanatory.