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27 June 2012

Tasting Trinidad, and how

Coconut Bake and Smoked Herring
We signed up to go on a "Taste of Trinidad" tour with Jesse James (his firm, Members Only, provides lots of support services to cruisers visiting Chaguaramas).  There were cruisers from six different boats, including us, and a total of 12 folks including us.  We have been hearing about the tour since we were in Trinidad last year, but this is the first time we have been able to go.  It's gotten amusingly competitive; Jesse and his customers are always trying to set a record for the number of foods (and beverages) consumeed in the course of the tour.  From our first dish - Coconut Bake and Smoked Herring, at 9:24 a.m.
to our last, Starfruit, around 8:12 p.m., we had a wonderful time wandering around Trinidad on our stomachs.  We sampled 59 foods and beverages and covered around 120 miles or so, starting in Chaguaramas, heading west and south through Valencia and Sangre Grande to the east coast at Manzanilla, then south to Mayaro and back west through Rio Claro, then northwest through Chaguanas and back to Port of Spain, then home to Chaguaramas again.  I'm not sure I can really name a single favorite food (least favorite of mine - and most of the 12 folks on the tour, I think) was a pickled pommecythere (a local apple-like fruit that might have been okay without the pickling) - but among the highlights were the smoked herring, barbecued pigtails (think seriously tasty, well "marbled" pork), a garlicky "patchoi" (a form of baby bok choy), and a green fig salad.  I would try to make any and all of these, along with a number of other things we sampled.  One nice thing about a tour like this is that it sends me searching for recipes.
Here's a slideshow with photos of one sort or another of most of the 59 foods - and yes, this was indeed a new record, though I am sure Jesse is already plotting how to break it on the next tour.  Of course, we will go again when we get back in the winter, so we will be sure to try to break whatever records get set in the meantime.

16 June 2012

Farewell Sweet Grenada (and cruising, for now)

I just finished updating our Voyage Summary (see Pages to the right; just click on the link if you want to see the day-by-day detail since our October 2010 departure), and I think our tattered Grenada courtesy flag tells the story.  We have had four legs in the voyage so far: 
  • down the ICW from Chester to Fort Lauderdale, October to December 2010
  • across to the Bahamas and down to Georgetown (Emerald Bay) in February 2011
  • south from the Bahamas to the Caribbean, ending in Chaguaramas, Trinidad, April to June 2011
  • around the southern Caribbean from Chaguaramas in December 2011 and back to Chaguaramas in June 2012  
We and Raconteur have logged about 3,900 nautical miles since we started out from Chester - 80% of those miles we logged in the first three legs.  We have spent 107 days underway - only a quarter of those during the fourth leg.  We have spent 26 nights at sea - exactly 2 of them on the fourth leg (Trinidad to Grenada in December, and Grenada to Trinidad on Thursday/Friday this week).  We have spent a total of 241 days in port - more than two-thirds of them on this fourth leg.  And, of the fourth leg,which was a total of about 170 days from start to finish (21 of them off the boat all together), we spent all or part of 95 of them in Grenada...thus the state of our Grenada flag.  I bought a new one and tucked it into our nav table for our hoped-for return there next season.

We left Grenada on Thursday around 1800, and got to the dock at Crews Inn in Chaguaramas the following morning around 1000.  It wasn't a bad passage; JP and I basically stayed on deck the whole night and we alternated snoozing off and on, which is not our normal passage procedure.  It worked fine, though we were quite crispy by last evening.  We had dinner over at Coral Cove with Receta and Arctic Tern - they were out there with us, though both had shorter trips than we did, by a couple of hours.  It was great to have dinner with them (a delicious and incredibly generous barbecue), and since we were all in more or less the same state, no one minded the early face-planting.

This morning we started on the rather extensive list of Things To Do before the haul-out, which is scheduled for this coming Friday, the 22nd.  Our beautiful new upholstery fabric has arrived, and we met with the upholsterer yesterday.  We ordered probably twice as much as we need (Sunbrella Dupione Seafoam anyone?) but I think it will be fabulous.  I must remember to do a "before" photo so we can do an "after".  We tried to get the jib down; no luck, but the riggers are coming Monday so they will help with that.  We got the hatch covers and window screens washed and stowed, made an appointment with the guy who is going to replace the anchor windlass, and will empty the diesel from the jerry cans into the boat tank, fill and bleach the water tanks, and sort the laundry before the day is out.  Tomorrow's big project is taking the 200 feet of anchor chain out of the anchor locker, washing it, letting it dry, and re-marking it.  
After that, only about another fifty items to check off on our way to haul out.

Wednesday we will pick up a rental car so we can make a shopping expedition for various things, including a printer (ours died), and get ourselves into Port of Spain late Friday.  We'll stay in Trinidad and come back and forth to the boat on the hard, and maybe get some leisure time on the island before we fly on the 28th. 

07 June 2012

Cruiser friends, and our 100th post

Since this is our 100th post on the Raconteur, Southbound blog, I felt it completely necessary to lead off with a sunset photo.

We went on Tuesday night with our friends Gus and Terry on s/v Nino to the Cave House at Mt. Hartman Bay Resort.  We met them when we got to Grenada in early December; among other things, Terry organizes cruiser participation in the Thursday cooking class at True Blue Resort with local chefs Omega and Esther, and often flips the burgers for the Wednesday Burger Night at Clarke's Court Bay Marina, two of my favorite Camp Grenada events.  We caught up with them in St. Lucia in April, and then they beat us back to Grenada by a few days in May.  The Cave House is in a lovely setting on Mt. Hartman Bay, not far from Secret Harbour Marina.  The food and service are both excellent as well, and we got to see one of the rooms and it was quite nice, spacious, touches of luxury, very comfortable - and it was not the best room in the house.  Those are some rooms that are right down on the beach. Here are two photos of us having drinks on the terrace before dinner, the first taken by JP, the second by Susan - so I am actually IN both of them, exceptionally.

Meanwhile, our friends Bob and Janice on s/v Tsamaya - we met them after the Great Swordfish Adventure last year in Trois Ilets, Martinique - have set off, just yesterday morning, from St. Martin/Sint Maarten, to cross the Atlantic.  We are following them by position 

and on a blog that they set up

Tsamaya Underway

They can't read comments until they get to their destination, but it is fun to follow along and enjoy a little vicarious living.

We are planning to hang around Grenada until Susan leaves on the 14th to attend a graduation party for her nieces; JP and I will probably try to head out overnight on the 14th, or perhaps even the day before, depending on what we see for weather.  We are in a squally period; it may settle for a day or two at the end of this week, then will kick up again Sunday/Monday, and we may see some higher seas.  It's not a very long passage - about 85 miles door to door, I think - but with south in the wind can be annoying.  We (re) made the list of things that need to be done to de-commission the boat, so we need at least a few days at the dock and then another day or two once she is on the hard.  JP and Susan did most of it in three days last summer, so with a week or more we should be fine.

01 June 2012

A cruising quiz

This, or

This, or

Correct answer?  Both, and I could come up with many more pairs like this, too.  The only common ground is that I took them in the last few days, and they give a little visual of the what-it-takes, and the why-we-do-it of cruising.

So the top photo is Susan finishing to re-hang the dinghy engine on a specially-built plate that is mounted to our arch; we (mostly JP and Susan) go through a multi-step exercise nearly every time we move from place to place, to remove the dinghy engine and mount it and then secure the dinghy to davits.  The procedure is repeated in reverse, of course, each time we arrive and when we need the dinghy (and that is also nearly every time, and often immediately so that we can clear in).  

The second photo is of Happy Island (we sent a Christmas poem to to tune of Jingle Bells on the subject some years ago), a man-made conch shell island bar set in Clifton Harbor on Union Island in the Grenadines - we were on a mooring in Clifton for a few hours on Monday 28 May to have lunch and clear out.  In the end, we didn't visit Happy Island this time, though we had done when we came through on our way south last spring.  Isn't the water perfectly amazing?

The story of the third photo begins with some trouble Susan started experiencing with our electric anchor windlass.  We carry a 40 pound Delta anchor and 200 feet of 3/8" chain, and have been very happy with our anchoring experiences since we arrived in South Atlantic and Caribbean waters in 2011.  We have the originally installed electric anchor windlass, and this makes raising and lowering that hook and many, many feet of that chain (the norm since we left the shallow Bahamas) much easier (versus doing it by hand, for sure).  We have become pretty good at it, if I do say so.  On Sunday 27 May, we moved from the Tobago Cays (see walking photos here and snorkeling photos here ) to nearby Mayreau to spend the night on our way to Union, and to have dinner at Dennis' Hideaway.  In the Cays, Susan noticed that the windlass was making a little bit of an unusual noise, but she raised with no problem and we got to Mayreau.  There, the windlass quit entirely at one point during the process, but with some finagling, JP got it going again and we set the hook.  After that and a little investigation, it was clear, at least to JP, that the windlass was dead or very nearly dead.  This required that the anchor be raised manually at Saline Bay on Mayreau - we had a LOT of chain down, so JP and Susan were exhausted and I was traumatized from helming and trying to help and not hit anything or anyone.  We came on to Sandy Cay, Carriacou for the night, and took a mooring ball, and then on the 29th on to Clarke's Court Bay and a mooring ball at Whisper Cove Marina.   Yesterday, the 31st, Mike from Enza Marine came to have a look, and said not only is it dead, but it was one of the most spectacular exits he has ever seen in any motor.  We can't easily replace it here, so will do so when we get to Trinidad, where we will, Poseidon willing, be able to dock with no interim anchoring before the haul-out.

The last photos is just the sun setting over Sandy Cay - as said, the reminder even on hard(er) days of why we do this.

It's lovely to be back in Grenada, despite the ROLLY conditions (unheard of when we were here in the winter) in Clarke's Court.