09
Aug
13

Listen very carefully …

… and you will hear the faint scratch of soapy brush tickling deck and anti-skid. Bend your ear closer still, and you’ll mark the swoosh of vinegar-soaked rag on wood and wall and paint and trim. Lean in (go on, I dare you – no one’s looking) – and sniff the screen: Ah, yes, the faintest whiff of Eau de Bleach and newly-laundered everything.  Butterfly, m’dears, as you might have gathered, is in the throes of having her annual spring-clean.  So if you’ve checked in here recently to find neither sight nor sound of Flutterbies, just that dusty old post below this – well, now you know why.

butterfly-spring-clean

butterfly-laundrette

A wretched excuse this might sound, but it is, without exaggeration, utterly true: scrub, scrub, scrub all day, and come the evening my brain has turned to soap itself; by sundown Her Aboard has devolved into a lather-and-sweat zombie. The discipline of sitting down to draft blog posts and assemble photos after playing Let’s Clean Boats all day, is, by then, quite beyond my diminished IQ. Instead, after the day’s labours and a dunk in the sea, we have headed for the shore and convivial company, or bopped till we’ve dropped at the Tiki Bar, finding the necessary energy to shake a leg thanks to Barracuda and his band.  That, or we’ve surrendered to the lazier option of falling Zen-like into a trance watching the ever-dramatic sunsets here at Prickly Bay from the comfort of the cockpit.

None of which does much for bringing this blog up to date.

prickly-sunsation

prickly-skies

Back to rub-a-dub-dub. Spring-Cleaning on Butterfly also demands turfing out the “treasures of the bilge” too. A Cruiser’s phrase that is best translated to mean, in layman’s terms – Stuff. That jumble of odds and sods that you acquire in moments of “that might be useful”, or “best to carry a spare, perhaps”, or, “keep it in case the other bit turns up … “.  Or paraphenalia that mysteriously stows away on to the boat when you’re not looking. Without a regular clear out, these “Treasures” proliferate and procreate and one day will sink the bloody boat.  Besides, finding stuff you do need is hard enough in the myriad of cupboards, lockers, nooks and crannies boats are bedazzled with – without hiding it under a pile of what is now useless junk. So Him Aboard bravely dove into the neglected bowels of poor Butterfly and soon had assembled a hoard of This, That and T’other that we’ve gradually accrued, and charitably (must we mention with a degree of self-interest too?) offered the useable items at very reduced prices – or for free – to fellow cruisers here in Grenada. (This redistribution of bilge treasures is a regular feature on the Grenada Cruiser Radio Net). Of huge relief was the re-homing of a 120 feet of shore-power cable that had seen service but once. That not-so-little treasure weighed a pretty ton, so Butterfly will flit a little lighter now.  Know anyone who needs water-maker filters?  We have a handome line in those looking for a new home, too!

If you’re wondering why all this fuss – well, it’s simple. In a few days’ time, Them Aboard will be heading back home to see beloved kith and kin and kindly pals and Butterfly will be left to bask in the Grenadian sun.  And haul-out time is always a good excuse to deep-clean and streamline. A time to finish projects and plan new. A time to check systems and seals and change filters, impellors and oils, too. A cue to Start Over.

It has been nine months since we were last home.  And then our visit was but a mere 3 weeks. You can imagine, then, the excitement that grows with every day. Every day a day closer to seeing those I miss. The odd thing is that after nearly 5 years living aboard Butterfly, far from getting used to the separation from dearly beloveds back home, I’m finding it a tougher deal than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14
Jul
13

Tropical Storm Chantal …

… came and went and is no more. As with life itself, weather systems are never permanent. And while the next train of tropical waves roll westwards across the Atlantic, here in Grenada we’re back to full-on sunshine, soaring temperatures and cobalt and cotton-ball skies … for a while.

The intensifying summer heat sees us rising ever earlier to get ashore for our walks. Once prised from sleep, we thoroughly relish these post-dawn hours before the sun rises too high. There is a freshness to the air then, that evaporates by mid-morning, and so we try not only to get ashore early for exercise but so that on our return to Butterfly, we can push on with any physical work that needs be done – particularly if it means being out in full sun without shade – before the day cooks up. Today, for example, removing the old and replacing with new, the rain-catcher strip around the bimini – where there is no protection from sun at all – I was one roasted chicken by 11.00 am. Painting, too, needs the cooler temperatures of early morning to be successful, or the painter must wield the brush slick and quick to stop the bally thing turning to treacle.  Unless you want dough enhanced with sweat garnish, breadmaking is also best done before the day fries up, and then once shaped into loaves, final-proofed in the fridge, so delaying baking until late afternoon or early evening. Baking mid-afternoon would be refined torture.  Laundry dries fastest if out on the line by mid-day, and brought in before the late afternoon dew starts to settle, so best get scrubbing and rinsing before lunch. Shopping – which for a cruiser involves dinghy rides and some schlepping on foot and lugging bags – is, again, more comfortably done before noon.

In other words, mornings here in tropical summer-time Grenada are by necessity busy times! Ideally, we could do with twice the number of hours ante-meridian to post-meridian to get everything done before the “eye of heaven” – as Shakespeare so eloquently phrased it – “shines too hot.”

Well ideals are rarely on the agenda. So we make do the best we can. And have learned to accept that action and progress are necessarily slowed due to those white hot hours that follow lunch, when, according to Coward, only “mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” – and an afternoon siesta becomes the only sensible option.

How glibly said, and how I wish it were possible! For unlike Him Aboard, I find sleep in daylight hours utterly impossible. Always have. And while the heat mid-afternoon is too much to be doing a lot of doing, the mind – even when doped with Caribbean sun – is still in need of amusement. Bring on the books, the poetry compilations and the Deadly Sudoku. Yet, if truth be known, I resent this enforced inactivity. I want to be cracking on, filling my time with stuff that needs doing or that I have a yen to do. There is too little life left to waste in a fug of sweat and steamy idleness. Quite sensibly, Him Aboard doesn’t feel the same at all; come the afternoon, he wisely thoroughly enjoys the state of Not Doing.  I envy him that … I think.

Those early morning walks of ours, however, make up for any number of schlumping, sweltering, sweat-fest afternoons. Striding out, moist morning air on skin, in lungs; a passing scenery of dew-spangled petals, grass, trees and – if we are lucky – a cooling breeze to blow away any lingering cobwebs of sleep, it’s impossible not to feel – well, how else to put this? – just extroardinarily happy.

And so, m’luds and ladies, and members of the jury – allow me to offer you various exhibits gathered on recent morning walks, as incontrovertible evidence for the condition commonly known here on Butterfly as Early Morning Euphoria. (Albeit, not a condition suffered by our friend below, who looks, it must be said, as pissed as hell).

jumper-crop

high-on-a-hill

mangrove-air-roots

petal-path

blessed

verdant

tassle-plant

where's-D

flower-trail-3

colour-of-life

unsung-heroes

grenada-shores

flamboyant-tree

sunshafts

And of such things, m’dears, are simple pleasures woven … there, I rest my case.

09
Jul
13

A collective sigh of relief …

… reverberated around the various anchorages of Grenada yesterday morning. The news that Invest 95L, bowling its stormy passage across the Atlantic with the Lesser Antilles firmly in its sights, would not, it seemed, be making a direct pass over Grenada. Phew.

chantal-modelThe graphic above courtesy of the excellent Wunderground site – highly recommended and a firm weather-info favourite with many cruisers.

Invest 95L which rapidly morphed into Tropical Storm Chantal, has the dubious honour of being the first serious Atlantic weather system to kick off the 2013 Hurricane Season. Yesterday, looking at the models for its possible track, those further up the island chain – possibly Barbados, St Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica and Puerto Rico – looked to be in for a wet and wild ride. Winds around 50mph had already been recorded.

Today, Grenada woke to the trailing edges of Chantal – thunder, lightning, deluges of rain, humidity off the scale, and absolutely no wind whatsoever. Not a puff.  The boats here in Prickly Bay circling their anchors and mooring balls in leisurely slow-motion.  And only now, at 10.00 am local time, are things beginning to brighten … though it feels temporary.  Despite the efforts of a heavily veiled sun, clouds and sky are so dense with moisture, so sodden with hot, heavy vapour, one gentle squeeze and I swear local sea-levels would rise dramatically. Take a look at the rain-forest in the distance, and you see clouds weighted low between the peaks.

chantal-weather-cloud

The instability of this climatic brew is all but tangible.  All this heat and moisture make for a volatile cocktail. After 4 summer seasons spent in the Caribbean, it’s a pattern we’re all too familiar with.  For even as Chantal spins her way through the Lesser Antilles, so another system is already following in her wake.  And so it goes. And while some summers are more dramatic than others, this procession of tropical waves, invests, storms and hurricanes, spinning westwards into the Eastern Caribbean, is a pattern that has repeated itself over and again throughout millenia.

Meanwhile, life here in Grenadian Cruiserville goes on as merrily as ever.  The bays around Grenada’s south coast are filling up daily with boats, their crews hoping to duck the perils of hurricanes; and yet more entertainments are being added to that list I itemised in my previous post.

Some shots, then, taken last Friday when skies were sunnier – kicking off with the balmy cricket (or should that read barmy cricket? – It doesn’t have a lot to do with Lords, I can tell you that!) – played last Friday, at Clarke’s Court Bay Marina. An idyllic spot to bowl a maiden over – if the maiden doesn’t mind a bumpy pitch.

dick-batting-crop

cricket-at-ccbm

lynn

spectators

cricket-with-tammyAs you can see, there is a strong dog contingent to the audience on these occasions. The canine enthusiasm for thrown balls doesn’t always allow for an interruption-free play, but they make surprisingly good fielders, albeit a little reluctant to surrender their catch.

While Dick joins the action on the pitch, I join the spectators – dogs included – and umpire the occasional dog fracas – flagrantly resorting to bribery to enforce good behaviour.  A handy supply of dog biscuits soon sorts things out. In return, Tammy (seen above) and Coco – the resident dogs at Clarke’s Court Bay Marina, reward me with some pretty posings. A win-win situation for one and all.

tammy-2

coco-3

tammy's-paw

tammy-3-crop

coco-1If Tropical Storm Chantal has temporarily stopped play in Grenada – as I type this, it’s far too humid and hot to even think straight, let alone play cricket – then at least, this being the Caribbean, it won’t be long before the sun shines, the wind blows and normal service – and entertainments – will resume. For a while, at least.

For the now, however, time to sign off and get busy on further upgrades to the saloon decor, and making a stow-bag for the dinghy canvas seat I’ve just finished, so we can row the dinghy should the Tohatsu outboard ever go west. The hard plastic seat that came with the dink having proved more of a nuisance than asset for normal use.

Where would a cruiser be without boat-work to keep him/her entertained, I wonder!

More soon, amigos …

28
Jun
13

I’ve been trying …

… to upload yet another video here. One that not only has nothing to do with Butterfly, or Dick, or I, but one which has absolutely sweet Fanny Adams to do with boats or the sea at all. It is a find – an absolute treasure – snaffled from Facebook, that is such a delight, I would love to share it with you (Mike excepted, of course – see comment on post below this one – who would probably never speak to me again for deviating even further from the well-trodden blog path you usually find here!).

However, nothing I do can make this WordPress template load the devil – which is a huge pity, but there ya go. Cyber gremlins rule triumphant on this one.

Instead, for this post at least, we’re back in the world of Butterfly-in-Grenada.

Grenada – our second home – has so many social activities laid on that you could be busily entertained from dawn to dusk the whole week long for the entire summer. Sod fixing the darned boat – there are far more important events to busy yourself with – like …

  • Noodling (aqua-aerobics using long polysterene floating tubes. Held at Hog Island)
  • Island Tours (with the wonderful Cutty or highly knowledgeable Clement Baptiste)
  • Fish Fridays (a trip to Guave towards the north of the island for a fish-fest and festival spirit)
  • Cricket (at Clarke’s Court Bay Marina)
  • Hashing (all over the island – every Saturday, mud and slither and humungous hills de rigeur)
  • Bingo (courtesy of the Tiki Bar, Prickly Bay Marina)
  • Pétanque (French balls to you and me)
  • Volley Ball (at Secret Harbour Marina)
  • Jam Sessions (for yachtie strummers, pluckers, blowers and warblers – held at Whisper Cove Marina)
  • Quiz Night (Tiki Bar, Prickly Bay Marina)
  • Cooking Class (at Dodgy Dock, True Blue Marina)
  • Dominoes (especially for the ladies, if not for we Flutterbies)
  • Film Night (De Big Fish, Prickly Bay; Tiki Bar, Prickly Bay)
  • Friendship Table (All-you-can-eat, all round the table, supper-feast at The Deck, Le Phare Bleu Marina)
  • Tai Chi (Calabash beach, Prickly Bay)
  • Yoga (Secret Harbour, twice weekly)
  • Televised sport specials (Tiki Bar, De Big Fish (Prickly Bay); Oasis, Clarkes Court Bay Marina)
  • Turtle-watching (with Cutty, seasonal only)
  • Live Music nights (De Big Fish, Whisper Cove Marina, Tiki Bar, Bananas night-club, Le Phare Bleu to name but a few)
  • Gazillions of shopping trips (transport provided, round trips from all the major bays and marinas)
  • And then there are oodles of one-off special events (too many to mention) of every hue and form that arise as and when  … I could go on, but you get the idea.

In the three hurricane seasons we’ve spent in Grenada, some of those events we’ve been to – some many times; and some never. So we decided to try filling in a few of the blanks this week.

Monday and Wednesday we schlepped along to Secret Harbour for the yoga sessions. I’d dearly love to bring you photos of Merediths both in Cobra pose, or Saluting-the-Sun, but alas, was too busy wrangling limbs and protesting lumbar region into something vaguely approximate. I also discovered – prompted by Him Aboard’s barely-contained laughter and not-so-discreet gestures – that it is wise to wear tighter fitting attire upstairs when yoga-ing in public. There again, nobody else was in a position to see much  – literally.

What I can bring you photos of, however, are the fabulous Omega and Esther who present the cooking class held on Thursdays at the Dodgy Dock, True Blue Marina.  In the spirit of suck-it-and-see (groan away, ’tis a terrible pun), we bowled along to learn a little about Caribbean cooking and to sample the end product.  Well Dick did; I had another agenda.

Almost every cruiser in Grenada has attended these classes at one time or another, I think, but not us. Not until yesterday. Entirely my fault, I confess. For although I can cook and do, I loathe it. Bores me to tears. A duty. A dreary chore. But then, unlike Dick, I have very little interest in food at all, which rather explains the lack of interest in preparing it, I guess. As a kindness to me, Him Aboard shares the cooking on Butterfly, and it’s a kindness I appreciate in spades. He’s a darned good man, Him Aboard. Baking bread is about the only exception to my I-hate-cooking rule, and I never seem to tire of getting creative with dough – well, not yet …

We have several pals who charter their boats. So I know from speaking with them just how much hard work chartering is. But it is the endless round of preparing meals and snacks that would polish me off, far more than the endless cleaning and wotnot. Nothing short of pucking furgatory, all that buggering around with food. Much though I love Butterfly and cruising, I’d rather sell the boat, then do that!

Anyway, back to Omega and Esther: the True Blue chefs have become local stars, essentially because they are a whole lot of fun and make the lesson an afternoon’s lively entertainment as much as a cookery class. To be honest, I switched off entirely as far as the food side of it went and, instead, got busy with my camera enjoying their repartée. Him Aboard, on the other hand, was more than happy to sample each culinary offering, freshly prepared and really very good.

omega-3cooking-class-2esther

caribbean-fish-stew

esther-2

omega

And thanks to such generous helpings offered during and after the demonstration, guess who was relieved of her cooking duties later that night. We might be seeing a lot of Omega and Esther this season …

———————————————————————————————————-

We arrived back in Grenada this year, precisely one week later than in 2012. As then, so now – we arrived to find the island a-blaze with fabulous colour and as pretty as a postcard.  Early morning walks have been resumed, and after the initial shock of dragging sleepy carcasses out of bed and getting ashore, the fresh-morning jaunt is, as always, one of the best times of the day. So to round off this post, for now – a few more photos taken during those quieter hours when we have the streets and paths mostly to ourselves.

yellow-blaze

canopies-of-lace

paved-with-colour

sugar-petals-crop

blue-view

gorgeous-grenada

vive-la-pink!

net-haulers-2

wild-flower-horizons

Of course, every paradise has its off-day. Or off-days, would be more accurate. For this is the hurricane season, and as a warm-up act to the very active months of August and September, here in the Caribbean we are subjected to frequent passing Tropical Waves. In which case, things look like this:

tropical-wave

Well, variety, they say, is the spice of life … even spice of the very damp variety!

24
Jun
13

Just for once …

… this is not an update about Butterfly; nor about Him Aboard, nor Her Aboard either.

Instead, for a change, I thought I’d post one of my favourite sailing videos.  Favourite, because it captures the sheer unadulterated fun of fine-weather sailing – at speed. Even those who don’t know their halyards from their binnacles – and much less care – well, I think even you might enjoy this too.

No more jabber from me – put this on the highest quality setting your connection will allow – and click play!

19
Jun
13

Whether the weather …

… was truly remorseful and keen to make amends, or whether it was the fear of another sound rollicking from yours truly that produced the desired effect, I’ll never know. But after reading that contrary blighter the riot act for his disgraceful behaviour of late, Master Weather pulled out all the stops for our last passage down island and gave us a gloriously swift skip back to Grenada. And we loved it!

Why, he even went so far as to provide us with some north in his blow, so most of the journey was completed either on a beam reach – our fastest point of sail – or on the quarter. Frequently hitting double-figure speeds, we must have left a generous trail of ablative antifoul in our wake.  Overhead, and playing with the wind and waves, a huge number of boobies circled and swooped and treated us to endless fly-bys, their large baleful eyes looking down at Them Aboard, looking up. Those birds are winged torpedoes with feathers.

In the open sea stretch between Carriacou and Grenada where things inevitably get friskier, waves that were 6-9 feet reared up several feet higher at times, but taken on the beam or aft were just fun. And not one single squall; not a single drop of rain.

And to really appease, once we turned the corner at the south-west tip of Grenada, ready for the usual bash to windward along her south coast, the waves mysteriously dropped in height, and Butterfly had little to do but slice easily and painlessly ahead till she reached the entrance of Prickly Bay.

prickly-bay

grenada-returnIn the lee of Grenada’s west coast (see above), we normally have some motoring to do – her rainforest mountains and hills blocking the wind for several stretches, but not this time. It was sail, sail, sail all the way.  Woot!

In light of his vastly improved attitude and behaviour, and for spoiling us so kindly for our last jaunt of the cruising season, I responded in kind. It’s hard being perfect, as we all know, so to recompense him for his efforts to please, I’ve given Master Weather carte-blanche to do what the bloody hell he likes this week, now we’re safely tucked into Prickly Bay and unlikely to be heading out to sea for a while. That he’s taken me at my word and after a couple of days of sunshine and brisk wind, is now throwing a sulk of the first order with heavy low cloud and frequent dreary crying fits, well, we’ll ignore that. The boy done good when we needed him to.

In a more sombre vein, as we turned into Prickly, we were immediately confronted by the torched remains of that boat I mentioned previously. The Uisge Beatha that burnt to a crisp following what is rumoured to be an electrical fault. Indeed we are anchored now just a short distance away where she lies, forlorn, a charred relic of her elegant and dapper former self. Beside her, a privately-owned tug, lent for the purposes of preventing her from sinking and becoming a hazard to other boats.

burnt-boat-3

burnt-boat-2There have been suggestions to take her out to sea and sink her where she can be turned into a dive site. A nice idea, I think.  There are several dive companies here that will know where best to do that, if the idea comes to fruition.

Back in Carriacou, and still on the subject of wrecks, there is a very grand if rather poignant sight, gently rotting in the Caribbean sun opposite Sandy Island. How very different the demise of this old workhorse to the one above.

wreck-at-l'esterre

wreck-l'esterre-2

Not for this old warrior the fiery, all-consuming flames of an untimely cremation, but instead, the gentle, slow disintegation of an air-burial, where sun and salt and sand and a myriad of creatures busy themselves transforming it into a skeleton; its flesh slowly lacing into rust-trimmed fretwork. If I’d had the guts, I’d have followed my curiousity and climbed aboard – someone having taken the trouble to place a pallet upsided against its hull to form a rickety ladder – with a knarled old rope suspended from above, providing the means to finish scaling its ascent.  But I didn’t, alas. I have far too agile an imagination which colours my expectations a little too vividly at times like this.

wreck-at-l'esterre-3The very obvious allegorical connection between the demise of these two boats and the demise that man so often meets may be a morbid subject – and time to turn on to something jollier, if you have no appetite for such matters – but it is unavoidably true that man, like a boat, must sail his seas only for so long as his season allows. And when and as that season draws to a close, or meets with an abrupt cessation, then he must take whatever exit gate fate throws open. To guide the hand of fate to force an exit of your own choosing, well yes, there is that option too – but not for those whose course runs parallel with the Uisge Beatha.  Fate as brutal and swift as the fire that consumed her cannot be side-stepped or manipulated or bargained with.

And what then after life? For the crisped Uisge Beatha, her after-life may indeed be spent several fathoms deep, home to an aquatic zoo of creatures and plants and the fascination of future scuba divers. For the rust-bedecked relic at Carriacou, her afterlife is still to be decided … perhaps she will continue to rest in peace in situ till she is no more. Perhaps some authority will deem her a hazard and condemn her to the scrapyard.

But there is another after-life for these two casualties of fate and fire – one that will be common to both: the afterlife of remembrance.  For I bet you what you like, both live on in the memories of those who sailed on them and even those who built them. And thanks to the wonders of the WWW, who knows, they may even achieve a small immortality bestowed by blogs like this.  I am certainly not the only one to write about them, that’s a fact.

And to return to our allegory, it makes me wonder if those, like you and me, who use the internet for Facebook, for blogging or forum contributions, or Linkedin or – heavens forbid – Tweeting (a pox on the abominable rise of self-promotion vanity and all its vain-glorious nonsenses!) – or all of the other cyber avenues that conduit our squawks and squeaks into the ether – are we also perhaps to be awarded a little deathlessness too?  Our bleatings and angstings, our smileys and LOLs having some life beyond our last breath?

To quote the inimitable Bard, the genius that was and is Shakespeare, is our “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” to find a little Ever After too?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

But if that is so and if it is of some small comfort – and for some I suspect it might be a generous comfort – to live on as echo-y whispers in the vast whirl of cyber communications, that fathomless ocean of messages in bottles destined to wash up on strange and exotic shores – then isn’t it an irony, delicious and befitting, that by then we will be beyond knowing or caring?

So sail your high seas today, dear chums. No use pining the shortness of the season. Let the winds blow, the storms rage and the sun blaze. The wind’s in your sails, you’re afloat and making way … anything else is but mere trimming.

And on that merry note, this gently rusting relic – albeit still seaworthy – bids you goodnight!

14
Jun
13

Wotten Weather …

… is wot we got.

essential-part-in-squall

squally-daysDay after bloody day of it. And with plenty more still to come. Our Wirie (wifi booster gizmo) that keeps us connected to wifi ashore coughed and died a week ago, and the Nokia dongle with internet connection package that struggled to work at all in St Lucia’s 2G environs then wouldn’t reactivate with our Grenada sim card, once we got to Carriacou – hence the ensuing radio silence since assuring Mike in my post below, I would do my best to keep the blog updated. The Law of Sod rules, OK.

The recent constant daily & nightly deluges of rain mean closed hatches; the fug of humid tropical heat a recipe for sweat. The wind and rain make going ashore a feat of endurance and being holed up on the boat so long is engendering a severe case of cabin fever. In short, dearest chums – I’m ever so slightly pissed-bloody-off.

The silver lining to all this present drear was an erstwhile fun and super-fast sail from St Lucia down to Carriacou. A romp that saw us hit over 11 knots now and then with a regular 10 knots for much of the trip, and that with deeply-reefed main and two reefs in the jib.  Squalls left and right, of course, but by a miracle of good luck and tactics we ducked all but one – and that only light.

squally-times

That luck continued even to the end of the passage, when, pulling into the bay after dark, at Hillsborough, on the west coast of Carriacou, a humungous white-out obliterated coast and sea – and the tiny isolated island, Jack Adan, that lies at the entrance to the bay. At times like that I could kiss the chart-plotter. In the twinkling of an eye we dowsed all sail and then gawped in amazement as the mega-squall with seconds only to spare, spun off to the side, missing Butterfly – and us – all together.

But this wasn’t the first time the weather gods smiled on us.  For on the trip down from Dominica to St Lucia a short while previously, Moses himself stepped into our frame and parted not the Red Sea but the pink one. The pink sea of squall showing here:

radar-squall-partingThere’s Butterfly sailing merrily along – the large single squall ahead at one moment, miraculously parting into two with a clear sailing path between each. How neat was that! Look at her speed and you’ll see how gentle the passage.

In fact, although the weather right now deserves a smacked bottom and being sent to its bed without supper, it has, it must be said, been extraordinarily kind to us this season when sailing. And it’s the sailing – especially some of the night sails – almost more than the destinations that have given the most pleasure. We still have one more passage to make, the one to Grenada, so we’re both hoping that trend will continue to the last … after I’ve pasted Master Weather’s bum with a slipper and given him a good talking to, of course.

So now to some flotsam and jetsam:

  • While in St Lucia, we decided to explore Pigeon Island at the north end of Rodney Bay. Every cruiser in the eastern Caribbean must have done this at one time or another, but not us. Not so far. Time, then, to make amends. There is a dock at the foot of Pigeon Island for small water craft to tie off to, so we rose early, dinked across the bay, secured Barnacle to that dock, and set off, heading up to the fort and look-out. A lovely morning too, sunny and fair with a cooling early breeze.

fort-rodney-bay

fort-rodney-bay-board And once at the top, we were afforded fine views of Rodney Bay and St Lucia’s coastline – pure shutter-fodder.

st-lucia-pigeon-pointWhen we arrived at the Pigeon Island’s highest peak, we sat ourselves down to admire the scenery and grab a breather. As usual, I got busy with my camera. But just after I took this …

high-on-a-hill… we could hear panting, the patter of footsteps, and a local guy, sweat beading his face, lumbered into view. Unable to speak, he stood a moment, gasping for air. Turns out, he was there to escort us right back to the dock. Our crime? Ignoring the sign that stated the opening time for Pigeon Island is 9.00 am. Oh very dear. Guilty as charged, m’lud. We had earlier spoken to some cruising pals who said it was fine to ignore and arrive earlier before the sun got too hot, providing you paid the entrance fee on returning – which was what we had planned. But our poor escort had been alerted to our out-of-hours presence by “the office” whoever they were, and had no choice but to enforce office rules. You have no idea how sorry we were to have caused him so much effort – it’s a hard climb to the top where he found us, and he’d clearly taken his duties seriously – not wasting a moment to find us and take us back. That he was also a super nice guy, who spared us his wrath, and accepted our sincere apologies with humbling good grace, only made us feel more guilty than ever. Won’t do it again, M’lud. Promise!

This last shot of St Lucia taken the night before we left …

pigeon-island-sunsetAnd our very last look at St Lucia as we sailed south and left her famous Pitons in our wake …

the-pitons,-st-lucia

  • On reaching Hillsborough, Carriacou, we checked in as required (no ignoring rules with customs and immigration, unless you’re daft) – and with a brief respite in the weather, decided we’d enjoy a last explore here while waiting for a window to finish the trip to Grenada. That day was all but the last sunshine we’ve had since. There’s Butterfly bobbing in the background.

satisfaction-and-butterfly

satisfactionEven so, it wasn’t long before the clouds began to gather …

in-the-frame-at-Carriacou The forecast has been pretty accurate, lots of rain and high gusty winds. The decision therefore was where best to sit it out. The biggest real danger that this type of weather brings is usually the havoc caused by dragging boats. Our own ground tackle has only ever seriously failed once – and that due to a faulty shackle (shame on you Wichard, for refusing to deal with that one honourably) – and we’re pretty sure that once our Rocna is set, it stays set. But the same can’t always be said of all other boats’ tackle. Consequently, it always seems safer to anchor well away from the pack when the wind blows hard and long. So plans to pootle between Sandy Island and Tyrrel Bay, pretty spots both, were shelved. We decided, instead to sit things out here in Hillsborough, where the view is not half so pretty, but with precious few boats, and in such a wide generous anchorage, there is little chance of being hit by others, or indeed of our hitting anything – even if our own ground tackle should fail, heavens forbid. A good call but for the inevitable. Yesterday afternoon, a mono set anchor ahead of us – a safe distance in ordinary weather. But I have developed a ‘dragger’ radar – and knew instinctively the peace wouldn’t last. It didn’t, within the hour, following a goodly squally, the mono swayed to the call of the wind, every arc taking him backwards.  As evening fell, another ugly gust shortened the distance between us by half. Thankfully, the skipper and his wife were on board and as we stood out on deck about to alert him, he had realised the problem already. A nice bloke. They shuffled off in the dark and the drear to the far side of the bay trying for better holding. This morning, with the never-ending succession of  gusts and squalls unrelenting, they are now in the middle of the bay …

  • Although in Carriacou (18-20 miles north of Grenada), thanks to there being a local VHF repeater, we can tune in to the Cruisers’ Net on Channel 66i broadcast from Grenada. This morning, it was announced in true BBC reporter style by Mark, the Net Controller of the day, that an 80ft Jongert built aluminum boat, Uisge Beathe, caught fire while at a mooring in Prickly Bay, and was unable to be rescued.  Mark was anchored nearby and able to take photos as the boat succumbed to the flames. You can see his photos on his blog website, Our Life at Sea.

The crew, thankfully, were all unharmed.  Already they have been offered a place to stay by one of the cruising community and it is guaranteed, I think, that there will be unlimited offers of help all round. At times like this the cruising and sailing community look after their own.

  • On 11th June, in Rodney Bay, a man aboard a catamaran shot himself in the head.  There seems to be much confusion over how or why – but the unfortunate chap is battling it out in intensive care. Despite there being no evidence whatsoever of foul-play from other parties, and despite the obvious possibility this may have been an accident, when the incident was reported in one of Facebook’s Cruiser pages, another cruiser popped up to make the very unwise remark, “Does this mean we will have one less dragging catamaran in the anchorage? Just looking for a silver lining…”  He was, unsurprisingly, duly pounced on by outraged fellow cruisers incensed at his lamentable stab at humour. That he also used the incident to plug his own blog only added insult to injury. All of which confirms that old Yorkshire adage, “there are nowt so funny as folk”. Cruisers being no exception.

And that, m’dears is about all for now. We have restored the Nokia dongle to full operation – which is why I can now post this for you to read. But alas, our Wirie is toast with a T and until we get a replacement or something similar, we are at the mercies of Digicel and Grenada’s 3G telecommunications. That combo worked pretty well last hurricane season, so, fingers crossed, let’s hope nothing has changed.

From a wet and windy Carriacou … stay dry, amigos.




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