The cruising adventures of Sid and Manuela

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and may the good times and treasures of the present become the golden memories of tomorrow.

Wishing you lot of love, joy, good health and happiness for the New Year.

Sid and Manuela

Let me catch you up on our trip to Puerto Rico:

We had barely time to square our boat away before leaving on Scirocco. Joe needed us to help him get Scirocco ready for the trip to Puerto Rico. Sid worked hard fixing this and that and provisioned as I was the cook onboard. It was a hectic time but all got done.

We were a crew of 5 the owner and another couple Udo and Melanie who actually are the previous owners. Poor Melanie was sick the entire trip to St. Croix due to contaminated water. The boat tanks were filled with local tap water which is unsafe to drink and there is no water filter onboard. On her day of arrival she drank about 12 glasses of that water for dinner. The owner had filled extra jugs with that water which before departure we emptied and filled with filtered water. In St. Croix we had to get her immediately on IV at the local hospital.

Sail from Puerto La Cruz to Isla Balanquilla new GPS did not work as it was hooked onto the old antenna. Sid had suspected that and brought our handheld, good thinking. Main was not pulled up because it was dark and we had the most miserable motor sail with only the staysail up and no one managed to sleep or rest. We rested in Blanquilla for one day and enjoyed swimming along a beautiful beach with the clearest water in every blue shades, except for Sid he was left behind with owner fixing things. For the 330 mile trip to St. Croix we did pull the main up and what an unbelievable difference it made. The weather was just perfect 15-20 knots of wind and about 4-6 foot seas and the boat just trucked along. What a difference waterline makes, on Paradise it would have been an uncomfortable not to mention 4 days underway instead of the 2 ½ days on Scirocco. Sid and I did the first watch and kept an eye on a squall line headed our way. We were ready for it but as the cloud was over us the wind completely shut down and after the cloud had passed it took about 20 minutes for the wind to fill in again, weird. We had an easy and uneventful watch to the contrary for Joe and Udo they had a close encounter with a freighter (one mile distance). Not being used to the cruising life it was a bit stressful for them. Then later on they had to battle a squall with at least 30 knots of wind. During night watches when Sid checked on the boys they were both asleep in the cockpit. He made some small noise to wake them.

Sid was doing all the navigation which caused a lot of frustration for him Joe and Udo did not trust him and would question the course he had charted, and they would argue. The entrance to the anchorage in Christianstead is quite confusing and there are too many red and green buoys, and then stress level went up, the depth was only at 8 feet and the keel was at 7 ½. Just as we anchored the engine made awful noises and had to be turned off manually. Sid had his hands full in the 3 days we were in St. Croix. The boom vang broke, we also had major battery problems which in St. Croix were exchanged with new batteries, alternator fan belt broke, pully for alternator came off, waterpump fan belt broke. We also had a diesel leak which filled the bilge, plus Sid had to climb the mast as well to check the wind instruments which were toast.

Then of course poor Melanie spent the first day at the hospital with an IV in her arm and doctor said her illness was from contaminated water.

Since it was a weekend we only could check in via phone but had to visit the office the following day, which Joe forgot to do. Except for Sid and Joe we jumped ship and walked through the beautiful alleys of Christianstead with wonderful galleries and stores, not to mention a fun board walk with yummy restaurants. One ocean front bar caters to cruisers. That’s where we caught up with Butch on Tropic Bird and Cathy on Chill and finally the last afternoon Sid managed to join us for some fun.

The sail to Culebra was great and uneventful until we arrived at the channel marker to our anchorage were Sid’s navigation skills were questioned again and the suggested channel was ignored, poor Sid. All I can say about this is that I know now how boats end up on reefs, scary.

Udo, Melanie and I ventured off through the streets of the little town on Culebra, while Sid was fixing this and that again.

We left early the next morning for Sapodilla which was half way to Salinas. We had to motor sail as the wind only blew at 8 knots. The water was calm. Sapodilla is nicely protected by a huge reef but it is a fairly shallow anchorage and poor Udo not used to shallow water as we are was holding the wheel white knuckled as we drove in only 9 feet of water. Joe finally told us that the depth meter was off by two feet. We had a refreshing swim a nice dinner and a calm restful night.

Our last leg to Salinas was on Thanksgiving’s Day. There was only a slight breeze and the motor was working over time. I was down below cooking up a storm. Turkey was in the oven, green beans and corn was ready, so was the sweet potato dish and mashed potatoes. I was just finishing with prepping the salad when all hell broke loose. Sid smelled the engine over heat and when he checked he noticed the coolant was gushing out of the engine. The engine had to be turned off manually again, the water pump belt which was 3/8” should have been 1/2inch broke which in turn caused the alternator belt to come off and over heated the engine. Just a good thing Sid smelled it or it would have wrecked the engine. There still was a battery problem even with the new batteries. You should have seen poor Sid’s head the whole entire trip whenever he had to fix the engine he would hit it on this or that, his head looked pretty banged up and scared. He eventually managed to fix the engine and we motored into the Salinas estuary. The water in this estuary is all about 10 feet deep and shallower at parts and I’m sure many occasions we dredged through the mud. We for sure did heading into our slip as we very slowly moved and the depth sounder showed 6 feet. First thing the following day was to rent a car and all of us had to drive to Ponce to check in with Immigration since Joe forgot to do so in St. Croix.

Prior to leaving Puerto La Cruz we questioned Joe why he chose Salinas and told him that he would not like it there, so did other cruising friends and he did hate it. Joe is a very difficult person to be around and we really wanted to jump ship, but just didn’t have in our hearts to just leave Joe here in a place he hated and offered to help him get the boat to Fajardo, where he had stayed for several years. We left the following day for another two day trip. Udo and Melanie parted here and went on a sightseeing trip before fliying home. We motored the 45 miles in two days and were glad for this trip to be over. We finally were able to buy a ticket back to Venezuela, had no problem finding a flight to Miami for the 4th, but Avior was fully booked for the entire month of December and luckily there were two seats left on the 13th.

The two days we had left in Puerto Rico we rented a car and just had to drive to Guavate with wonderful restaurants selling succulent roasted pig called “lechon”. The drive was spectacular and it was tough again to make a decision in which restaurant to eat. We pigged out! The following day we drove to the El Yunque rain forest, another must, and enjoyed the tranquility. El Yunque offers many water falls, wild orchids, birds and fauna. At mile marker 11 is a pull out with food and refreshment. We were just going to get a beer when a friendly guy with a New York accent handed us a teaser of pinchos (kebabs). It was so delicious we had two orders each and had a blast talking to him. He had just moved to this beautiful island with his Puerto Rican wife and for his father in law until opening his own restaurant in Fajardo. With the delicious pinchos he serve us we don’t see any problems for him not to be successful. So when visiting this beautiful national park. Don’t forget to stop here for pinchos and ask for directions to his restaurant.

On our last day we took Joe out for an early dinner at a great Mexican restaurant then drove to the airport for our flight to Miami. We sure did have a difficult time with Joe and were glad it was over, but we did leave still as friends.

It was nice to see the friendly faces of Dale and Sandy “Snow White” as they picked us up at the airport. It was already late in the evening and despite it we talked way into the night to catch up. Their friend Karl from Germany was visiting as well and when Dotty showed up the following day they had a full house. Molly (their dog) was so cute, after all these years she still remembered us and gave us a special greeting, what a cool dog. It felt so good to sleep in a comfortable bed and was even nicer to relax for a few days. When Dotty found out we were visiting she didn’t hesitate to jump into her Cherokee plane and flew from Naples to the Keys to visit. We had such a good time Sandy, Dotty and I drank 3 bottles of champagne the first afternoon and Dotty even decided to spend an extra day with us. The following day the girls drove to Duck Cay to visit her house. What a beautiful location right on a canal with a narrow mangrove breakwater then the ocean, just beautiful, why they don’t live there is a puzzle to me.

Sid and I drive drove her back to the airport but before she left us she took us on a flight over the Keys. That was so kewl we circled many times around Key Largo to take some good pictures of Dale and Sandy’s houses. Then on the way back to the Homestead airport she let me fly, now that was too kewl. Check it out on You Tube “Flight with Dotty”, go to or click link below:

After that fun weekend the shopping started, we had a huge list and thanks to Dale and Sandy for lending us one of their cars it was easy getting around. I tell you though there is a lot of driving to do in the Keys, everything is far apart. We shopped pretty much everything on the list plus some stuff not on the list and twice had to go back to the Thrift store to buy an extra suite cases.

Just before we left Venezuela we received an email from our sister ship San San that they were in Marathon. GR found us via the Ericson web site and we’ve been email buddies for a while now. It was great to finally meet him, his wife Jessica and swab Gia face to face and exchange hints and tips about our boats. What a cute family, we hope to meet them somewhere in remote anchorages. And get this, there was another Ericson 36C in the anchorage.

Next to shopping and visiting we had a great time with Dale and Sandy. Early mornings we exercised to a Denis Austin tape, (except for Sid) and then went for an hour or so walk through the neighborhood. What a beautiful place and you should see their enormous house, just beautiful. In his yard Dale built a cute pond with 2 box fish, a nice size grouper, lady fish and get this at least 20 good size lobsters. I had fun watching them. Best time was just before sunrise or sunset as they walked in line behind each other through the pond, wow. Dale and Sandy just finish building their new house, oh man, what an incredibly awesome house. You should see the kitchen, it’s enormous with an elegant built in marble table seating at least 8 people. The master bathroom took my breath away. The shower and toilette are each surrounded by the most beautifully etched glass wall that was curved. The etching was an incredible underwater scene. The house also comes with a wonderful view over the entrance to the canals in their neighborhood and the Atlantic ocean. We watched a colorful sunset on the roof terrace with some more champagne.

We felt really bad that our visit was so extended but the 10 days went by fast and on our last night the yearly Christmas Boat Parade was held and we enjoyed watching it from their friends resort and met many of their friends.

We had a wonderful time and Dale and Sandy were the most gracious hosts. Dale and Sandy we can’t thank you enough.

When we finally arrived at the Avior counter there was not one passenger checking in. Really strange but then maybe we were just too early. But then again we were told that they were booked solid for the months of December, after all we had bought the last two tickets. When we finally sat in the plane and the doors locked we were dumb founded, there were only 20 passsenger in the plane, go figure!

Jim picked us up but first we had a little tail gate party at the airport as he had ice, beer, rum and coke ready for us. We had fun in the parking lot for quite a while until the mosquitoes started to eat us. It felt so good to step on Paradise and sleep in our own bed. It’s been a long month which put as behind schedule. Instead of celebrating the Holidays at anchor in the Roques we’ll be spending it here with out Venezuelan family.

Venezuela is slowly changing for the worse as Chavez puts an end to the good times. There are no cruising boats left a Maremares and at Bahia Redonda where we are there are only 3 American boats, one German and about 10 French boats left. Could this be the end of cruisers in Venezuela?

We have a few varnishing and sewing projects to do then we also will leave this beautiful country for good. We will miss all our Venezuelan friends and hope that they will be able to live a good life as Chavez is taking more and more away from them including freedom. Our heart goes out to them.

By the way I posted the first part of our Grenadine adventure with film and photo stories. Don't miss the turtle film. To view go to or click link:

and scroll to bottom of report. Enjoy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Back in Puerto La Cruz

I forgot to mention that on our way to Los Testigos we had to change the chip in the GPS to get the charts for Venezuelan waters and noticed that they were corrupted, although we had GPS coordinates we did not get a map reading. While in Testigos Sid worked on it and we realized the chip IS broken. Our back up is the computer but it would not recognize the GPS which it used to. There is really nothing in the way between the Testigos and Margarita and we know the anchorage well so it was no big deal but it sure is nice to be able to see where hidden reefs, rocks, shoals other dangers lurk. The sail towards Margarita started with light winds and flat seas until we came out of the lee of the island from then on it became more and more unsettled. Luckily we were going with it therefore no pounding but we did occasionally roll from side to side as the waves pushed us. This eventually settled as we inched closer to Margarita by then the sea was calm and the breeze just very light if at all. It actually felt so comfortable we decided that we really didn’t need to stop in Margarita just for fuel, rum and wine so we just kept going. Sailing along the south side of Margarita towards Coche thunderstorm started rumbling left and right the wind picked up and white caps built all around us which got us a bit nervous. They staid away from us until we came closer to Coche then the thundercloud to the left decided to spread out and it looked as we would get the most tremendous downpour and of course just when we would anchor. For some reason the cloud never made it and we were not complaining about it at all. We pulled anchor again very early in the morning and were a bit concerned when we saw a red sunrise as in “Red sky in the morning, sailor takes warning”. To begin we had 15 knots of wind which dwindled away over a few hours and as we headed around the Araya Peninsula towards Mochima Park the sea became as flat as a table and there was no breeze at all. Coming between the islands towards Guanta dolphins greeted us as they always do and it felt kind of good to see the familiar shoreline in the distance and put a frown on our faces to see the Cement Factory smoldering as ever.

So here we are again in Puerto La Cruz and this time our lines are tide in a slip at Bahia Redonda. Not too many cruisers are here anymore as more and more cruisers are leaving Venezuela for good as Venezuela is changing for the worse. Now cruisers are only allowed to stay 3 months in Venezuela as well as the boat whether in a marina or on the hard. I was right when two years ago I said we have about two more years of good cruising in Venezuela. Hugo is doing a good job in ruining his beautiful country. Power and water outages on a daily basis and he blames it on his people. But I don’t want to go into that it’s too depressing.

The water at Maremares was always filthy but now the color of the water at Bahia Redonda is of that same while the rest of the canal now is dark brown and with the oh so wonderful oder of “Eau de toilette”, even driving the dinghy along the shore this wonderful odor lingers in your nostrils. It’s horrible and I was just told that it was much worse during the summer. It makes me not even wanting to drive the dinghy through this waters anymore.

Maremares is done, no more cruisers are there. We were considering going back but they now took Cable TV, Internet, phones and laundry machine away.

Prices have gone up again and by a lot. My favorite champagne for which I had paid anywhere from 14 to 16 BS is now 60. The bread I had paid 1.50 BS in November was 3 in December and is now 6, can of Campbell soup 5 US dollars. Carta Roja rum 7dl used to be 7 BS now 22 the litter was 12 now 27. How are these poor Venezuelan people surviving?

While in Grenada Jenny wrote us that Joe on Scirocco was bringing his boat to Puerto Rico and that he needed crew and if we were interested. So our cruising plans are deviating once more. On the 15th or 16th of November we’ll be sailing out of here direction Puerto Rico via Blanquilla, St. Croix, Culebra, Fajardo and to Salinas with Joe and the previous owners Udo and Melanie. Can’t wait to go shopping, yeah Wallyworld here I come.

There will not be any entries in the Blog until we come back in two to three weeks until then take care.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Fench Testigos

Later that afternoon I went snorkeling on the reef in front of us. The water was so clear I could see at least 60 or more feet. This was by far the best snorkel I've ever done. The visibility was amazing, Paradise is anchored in 20 feet of water and usually you can't see the bottom clearly here it's as clear as can be, no haze nothing as if there was no water between the boat and bottom. I followed the chain to the anchor which was dug in nicely just beyond the anchor the bottom turned into hard coral sand and then big boulder started climbing up the reef. Beyond the boulders the most colorful coral reef opened up. This is a very healthy looking reef with all kind of corals. My eye caught some elk horn coral they were grouped in a half circle and took my breath away, never mind I forgot to suck air through my snorkel. It looked like the nicest manicured fish tank. Around the elk horn coral hundreds of fish all different species gathered around and under one of the elk coral was a giant puffer fish, what a sight. Where's the camera when you need it. I staid there for at least five minutes watching then as I ventured towards the small island a turtle came across the reef my direction, as it was just a few feet away from me under the turtle a mall stingray lifted off the ground and swam under the turtle into opposite direction. Wow this can't get any better. I swam around the island and saw the most colorful parrot fish, angel fish and giant trumpet fish which changed their coloring according to their background. Golden colored moray eels are also abundant here and a 6 foot sea snake, white with beige spots slithered across the white sand. I had to go back the following day to take photos but wouldn't you know it I ran out of batteries.

On my fishing excursion earlier that day I drove through all the anchorages and was happy to see that we were in the most protected of them all. The boats in the most westerly anchorage were rolling from side to side. All together there are about 20 boats in Los Testigos and we were the only US flagged boat the rest was all French until Scott Free pulled in. I happened to see them sail into the western anchored as I was fishing and headed to their boat to let them know that the reef we were anchored was not as rolly. They were very thankful for that as they had a very rough trip and needed a good night sleep. Later at five we were invited on Scott Free for sundowner and met Scott, Heather and their guest Jeff. It came out that they know a lot of our cruising friends it's really a small world. Unfortunately they were on a fast track to Trinidad and had to leave the following afternoon, but not before we exchanged Trini for Curacao money and I took them ashore for a hike across the dunes to the beautiful white sandy beach. The water is just amazingly clear and even though a high surf crashes ashore the water stays clear. As we were in the water and the waves curled and crashed on top of us we could see right through the waves.

We are surrounded by French boats which are known for running around naked on their boats and this morning as I was enjoying my coffee and bacon and eggs breakfast my neighbor got on deck and stood there totally naked saluting the morning, so I turned around and was facing my other neighbor's boat and ohmygosh, noooooooo pleeeeease don't bend over!!!!!!!!! Too late!!!!!! There went my appetite!
You would think after the Grenadines we would be used to it by now. And then when a young French couple shows up you think ALL RIGHT it's a big disappointment as the young and good looking ones don't walk around naked, oh well. Actually it's the guys who are showing off on deck the women are more modest.
Time's up the three days are over and tomorrow we'll lift anchor and sail to Margarita.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Los Testigos

After listening to Chris's weather prognoses we decided this was the perfect time to head for Los Testigos with only 10 knots of wind in the forecast and the northerly swells to disappear. At 17:00 we pulled the anchor up hoisted the mainsail and headed out of Prickly Bay with some tears in our eyes as we remembered having to leave Tika behind, she is and will be missed. It was promising as we pulled the jib up and watched the knot meter climb. We had 10 knots of wind that pushed us along with a two knot current at almost 7 knots. As we got further away from the island we lost the 2 knot current but the 10 knots of wind stayed and kept pushing us with almost 6 knots towards Venezuela. The sunset was beautiful and as the night sky took over the stars started to twinkle. Just before 20:00 the moon came up over Grenada and was amazingly big but then lost her size as she climbed up into the starry sky. The moon is always a welcome sight especially during night crossings as we can at least see where the water and horizon touch. The first few hours it was pleasantly calm but then as we got into swells it started to get a bit rougher. At times we realized that this was caused due to different depths of the water the shallower it got the more lumpy it was and vise versa. But then as we were in more then 600 meters of water the lumpy seas staid just that and made it hard to sleep for the off watch person. I did the first off watch and I think I managed in the three hours to sleep a total of 20 minutes. Sid managed to sleep the first hour then we realized that our green starboard running light was not working, Sid got the hand held running light for the dinghy out and mounted it with ducked tape to the bow then he caught some more sleep. As we changed watch we both saw the most incredible shooting star, this one's tail was so bright and full of explosions we thought we could here it sizzle. On our next change of watch an odor of burning plastic got into my nose and I immediately alerted Sid while I followed the smell in the cockpit Sid followed it inside and as he opened our electrical panel he saw a spark coming from the main wire. At that time we had the refrigerator, freezer, water maker running and also tried to load the batteries of our two cell phones, let alone radar, GPS, Autopilot and a few lights guess a little too much for the little wire. Good thing is we caught it on time before it could turn into a disaster. The rest of the night went without any glitches and as Sid laid down the seas got calmer and he slept for a good two hours. The sunrise was spectacular and the seas a lot calmer and as the sun crawled into the sky we could see the Testigos islands from 18 miles away. As we approached the Rajahd rocks we noticed a red buoy to starboard and then we noticed the current that pushed us sideways directly at the buoy. There was nothing we could do the boat got pushed into and over the buoy and caught up on the rudder. Not good as we could not start the engine it could get wrapped on the prop. As fast as we could we pulled in the jib and as soon as it was in the buoy broke loose made some knocking sounds against the hull and we were free. We immediately started the motor and headed to the lee of the island where we were protected from the fast current. Talking about an adrenaline rush, no thanks not this early in the morning and we never had a coffee, didn't need it anymore. An hour later we pulled into the anchorage, got settled in and ventured across to the village to check in. Although it's not an official clearing port, cruisers are advised to check in anyway and they will allow us to stay 2 days. Since Sid's back was still a mess I did ask for a few extra days, at first the officer was not willing but when I told him that I was not able to manage the boat by myself he gave us an extra day. One extra is better than none. Back on the boat I prepared some pizza dough for dinner then crashed for a good 3 hours and caught up on sleep I didn't get during the passage. Sid went right to work on the wiring problem and replaced the burned wire with a much bigger one. Pizza dinner was wonderful and the night sky staid clear and all our hatches staid open all night long which we haven't been able to do in the Grenadines. After a good cup of coffee Sid decided he was not going to do anything that day and I decided to go fishing. Sid hooked me up with a pole, a bucket, pliers, cloves and off I was. First I trolled along the rocky shore let the line loose and just the second I set the clicker a fish snapped it, wow, that fast. I stopped the dinghy and started reeling the fish in. It was a good size needle fish but as soon as he saw the dinghy he managed to break loose and took off. The lure went back into the water and I continued trolling along the rocky shore and I noticed an awful lot of frigate birds soaring above me but it was too late to realize that one was interested in my lure and the lore started soaring up into the sky. Luckily the bird was not strong enough to lift the fishing pole up into the air but he did some circles and nose dived into the water. I pulled him gingerly to the boat and with gloved hand grabbed him by the peek and pulled the lure out with the pliers. As he panicked a bit he now got the lure into his wings but luckily I was still holding him and managed to get that out of his feather. I lifted him a bit out of the water as they have a hard time to get out of the water and he started to fly away to fall into the water again. Oh no, I thought and started to close in on him to get him into the dingy for an easier take off, but finally he managed to get his wet body out of the water. I kept fishing but as soon as these giant birds circle above me I pulled the lure in.
When I returned Sid was not laying on his back as he had said he was rummaging around the boat and then he fixed our running light. So here we are wondering what we'll have for dinner since I didn't catch fish, wondering how that frigate bird would have tasted? Just kidding.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Getting ready to sail to Los Testigos in Venezuela

Diane on Jabulani moved over to Grand Anse, had her over for a nice dinner she cooked, yes she brought dinner to us and it was wonderful. The following morning early we helped her to get her boat into the Marina as she was leaving for the States. The good thing was that Sid's toe was all good again but then helping Diane getting the dinghy aboard Sid pulled a back muscle and oh well was on his back for four days. We did move back to Clark's Court Bay to spend some time with Mike and Cynthia on Minx that was as always a lot of fun. On Halloween we all dressed up and joined the Hash House Harrier Halloween run, well only Mike went on the run, the rest chickened out instead we sat around the pull bar and enjoyed cold brewskis. Before the night ended Cynthia and I drove the dinghy over to Clark's Court Bay Marina and did a last time Karaoke together, what a blast. Hurricane season is officially over and only a few left over tropical waves are still out there to dump some needed water on us to keep the boats sparkling and refilling our water tank and sun shower. We're back in Prickly Bay to see Bernie on Transition who is leaving for Trinidad tomorrow. We'll be checking out of here on Thursday and leave before sunset to sail to Los Testigos in Venezuela. We're still having problems finding good propagation to send email out via our ham radio so if you don't hear from us in a week it's obviously not working and we'll send a report in from Margarita.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Plans are written in sand at low tide

The weather was really benign and will last until the end of October and so we decided to take the opportunity and head back to Grendada, shop for two days and then head for the Testigo Islands in Venezuela before the Xmas winds start up again. We had a great sail back to Clifton on Union Island, spent on night there, checked out the following morning pulled the spinnaker up and sailed back to Hillsborough, Carriacou to check into Grenada again then sailed over to Paradise Beach and dropped the anchor below Nan and Mike Hatch's house. They were surprised to see us again and on the following day we were invited for a swim in their beautiful infinity pool and lunch overlooking all the Grenadine Islands in the north. We had a great time and it was really good to see them again. Unfortunately we're on a run and left early the next morning and again sailed the whole way to Dragon Bay. For once in our cruising time we feel like we actually do own a sailboat LOL. Dragon Bay is by far the most tropical anchorage in Grenada and still my favorite. Unfortunately the swells do roll in and on the second day a wind chop made it so uncomfortable not even the flopper stoppers could help, so we pulled anchor and motored to the next bay south to a calmer environment. But first we snorkeled the point between the two anchorages which is Grenada's best snorkel and diving spot. Really?!!! There is really not much there so they had to do something about it and placed statues under water. Some were female statues lying in a circle in the sand in about 14 feet of water. For the divers they have an actually tour that takes you through some canyons where now and then a statue is positioned. One is a statue on a bicycle, the other one sitting at a desk with a type writer and a face with a hat. Kind a weird but then I guess if the snorkel area is not good, just add a bit of excitement to it. We spent two nights in Grand Mal were it was calm compared to Grand Anse where all the anchored boats rolled from side to side. Eventually we moved over there as well to do some provisioning and then leave. Shows again that plans are written in sand at low tide. An old friend we had met in Trinidad last year but missed this year as he had to take care of his mom in the States, called us on the radio. Also Diane on Jabulani was still here, we thought she was in the States by now and Cynthia on Minx is still waiting for her teeth to arrive so we decided it was way worth it to postpone our departure to spend some more time with Minx, have Bernie over for dinner (by the way he is the guy who is one of the ham radio stations who sends our emails out to you, thanks Bernie) and help Diane to get her boat into the marina before she heads off to the States. Probably a good thing too that we are not leaving yet as the weather is not the best, there is nothing but rain between here and Margarita so we're not missing anything by leaving yet.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tobago Cays

The turtles turned out to be on the shy side we saw them surface around the boat, but as soon as we were in the water there was no evidence that they are around. We did some great snorkeling by Frigate Island and on the outer reef with Mike on Minx and one evening after 8 we snorkeled Frigate Island for lobster. Night time brings them out of their hiding as they feed at night and are easily spotted by the light of the dive light as it illuminates their eyes sparkling almost like little diamonds. We saw many of these delicious creatures but unfortunately they all were very small, the tail would have only been the size of a big shrimp and that's way too small. We did encounter a huge moray eel which was on the prowl as well.
The following day October 13th we had a nice Birthday celebration aboard Paradise with guests Cynthia and Mike. Dinner was wonderful and started with appetizer of lobster bits, baked over with Béchamel sauce and Parmesan (yes we did get two lobster which was just enough meat for an appetizer) presented on flat scallop shells, followed by wonderful pizza ala Minx, Spaghetti Carbonara Paradise style and for desert a Rhubarb crisp ala Manuela. We were so full every body vowed not eating for at least two days, well that vow was all forgotten the next day.
Cynthia and I ventured ashore to explore Ashton which is a very small town on Union island I don't think any tourists ever come here other than cruisers. Every third house was a grocery store of some sort which sold only the essentials. I had to laugh at the one store with the biggest sign "Variety and Grocery Store", so we went inside to find only old clothes and behind the counter a shelf was just below the ceiling which had 6 cans of sardines and two cans of tuna for sail = THE GROCERIES of course they were heavily dusted and too high up for reach. What we also noticed and I've been noticing in all the Grenadines and even Trinidad, pretty much every store has a if not two big posters of Obama on the walls. The locals were just super friendly and we had chats here and there and before we realized it, it was pasted lunch time, time to go back and feed our hungry men.
Cynthia had a dental appointment in Grenada and so they finally left Paradise alone in this beautiful and quite anchorage, the only visitors where the turtles. Unbelievably on October 16th we had our first thunderstorm of this hurricane season which missed us by one mile. This really has been a good year with mild tropical waves and this one was by far the wildest. We did get a lot of rain and each squall had high winds of 35 knots and in just one squall we collected enough water to fill our sun shower and even add about 15 gallons into our tank not to mention that mother nature cleaned Paradise of all the salt and dust, she sparkled.
The entire time since we left Grenada we've been trying to send our updates to our Blog with position reports but propagation was so bad we never got connected. We heard that the sun has lots of sun spots which interfere with radio waves, so our updates are not as frequent as we'd like, sorry.
It was time to head on as we are getting to the end of our stay in the Grenadines but not before we visit the beautiful Tobago Cays once more. Besides Sid's toe finally felt good enough to get going again. Sid jumped into the dinghy, hooked the engine up on the hoist, I hoisted the engine up onto the bracket, then Sid hooked up the dinghy on the davits and whoops he slipped on the dinghy floor and his big toe slammed into the transom of the dinghy. It hurt so bad I even had tears in my eyes. So his toe is back to being battled and bruised again. But we did move the next day and motor sailed the 9 miles to the Tobago Cays. Just after we had rounded the corner of the northwest side of Union the water turned into a washing machine and we had an almost 2 knot current with us pushing us into the oncoming swells, a mess and we were sure that we would have a wild ride all the way. But then we remember that last time on arrival we had the same effect and realized that it is a local condition with the currents wrapping around the north side of Union and sure enough the further we sailed away from the corner the calmer it got. Luck was on our side as we got lifted by the wind and never had to alter course until we arrived at the north end of Mayreau the wind did that for us. From here it was a short 2 miles hop to the entrance of the Tobago Cays were we anchored in our old spot and as the day went along charter boats joined us but left before sunset leaving us alone in this colorful and scenic place. We watched a movie after dinner and after that noticed some big fish swimming around the boat so Sid hung the light into the water. We never got to see the big fish but a shadow we thought was a turtle came closer and as it was just few feet away from Paradise we realized that our visitor was a baby manta, wow, how kewl is that. So we'll be here for a few days enjoying this beautiful part of the world taking in all the beauty nature has to offer. Including having some lobster delivered by one of the locals who recognized us from our last visit. Well, the lobsters were delivered and the size I had ordered but the arranged prize for 50 EC for two doubled on delivery, no thanks, I don't like to be scammed, so much for trying to support the locals.
While Sid was soaking his smashed toe in hot salt water I jumped into the salt water and snorkeled the reef behind us which was full of fish, I've never seen so many in one spot, I was literately surrounded by hundreds of fish from all shapes and colors, just amazing. Then of course I had to swim with the turtles again, but this time without my camera. I found groups of up to 6 turtles in one spot all munching away on the sea grass a sight I will never forget. Next to all the fish and turtles I spotted a good size sole and cuttlefish, how lucky could I get.
Remember the little bird that came visit us here last time flying down below surprising Tika? I wondered if she would come and visit us again and had some bread crumbs ready just in case. She never came until the last morning I had just opened my eyes wondering about that little bird and there she was sitting on the life line in the cockpit watching us sleep. I got up and moved the bread crumb dish to the captain's seat, while she watched flew to it and munched away for at least 10 minutes, she even cleaned up after the crumbs that fell on the floor. When she was all done she looked at us before flying off with a loud chirp, I guess she said "thank you".

Monday, October 19, 2009

Frigate Island on Union Island, St. Vincent Grenadines

We spent the night in Tyrrel Bay then headed around to my favorite spot Sandy Isle. 7 boats were at anchor and from what we noticed on the flags all were French plus one German boat. Our first anchor attempt got us a bit too close to the German boat so we pulled anchor set it again but this time a French lady came screaming out on deck that we could not park there, so we pulled again and went behind them where we heard her baby cry, great. After we had settled in we called Minx on the radio as we knew they were at Union Island, but hadn't been able to hear us the previous day. This time they responded to our call. Mike brought up the fact that northerly swells would start coming in and remembering that Chris had mentioned the same a few days prior we pulled anchor as fast as we could, drove over to Hillsborough, launched the dinghy, Sid dropped me off ashore, I rushed to Immigration then Customs to check out, rushed by the bank to get some money out of the ATM from there down to the beach to buy some fresh conch (6 for 30 EC = 11 bucks), whistled out to Paradise where Sid was waiting to pick me up again and exactly 20 minutes later I was back onboard Paradise. This was by far the fasted check out any where. We pulled anchor and headed the 7 miles across to Union Island. There is always a current running so we hugged the Carriacou coast to the end then set course for Cliffton and made it there with no problems. We tried to sail but only managed to do so for about 10 minutes, the current set us off course so the engine helped to keep us on course. Since it was a weekend the custom and immigration offices in town were closed so we had to walk to the airport which on our last visit we were told is a long walk. We had to laugh as after 5 minutes walking we arrived at the airport. Checking in was as easy as in Hillsborough and 10 minutes later we were on our way back to the boat. Again we pulled anchor and headed to the south side of Union Island and set anchor by Frigate Island next to Minx. It was a happy reunion with a wonderful BBQ rib dinner aboard Minx, ending up drinking a half bottle of her home made Grand Marnier, wow that was yummy. The following morning I went ashore with Mike and Cynthia to walk their dog Ashley. Frigate Island is attached to Union Island through a long and narrow sand spit surrounded by a reef. Many years ago a French company started to build a marina here but ended up bankrupt and leaving the unfinished marina as it is. In the years to come weather destroyed the unfinished marina and all is left is rusted out seawalls between the two lagoons and reef. It makes for a nice walk along the water, good for shelling. I forgot if I ever mentioned that I started collecting beach glass to make pendants with them, Cynthia got me started with something else, beads, natural beads we find along beaches, she then polishes and makes the most wonderful natural bead necklaces. During that walk we noticed this kewl little pool in the mangroves with a reef that we could swim though to the windward lagoon and later in the afternoon we took our dinghies around and snorkeled in that same pool. It came out that it looked more attractive than it really was, but Ashley had a great time swimming amongst us. Ashley really is a cool dog, you should see her when they noodle behind their boat every afternoon. Ashley sits on her own mattress watching us while noodeling around her.
Minx joined us for dinner and she presented me with one of her beautiful necklaces, thank you Cindy. Dinner was wonderful as I cooked the conch into fritters, yummy and desert was putting the fishing light out and we all enjoyed watching all the fish that were attracted to the light. This anchorage is full of turtles as well, we saw many of them pop their heads out of the water, maybe we'll be lucky enough to be able to see them on our next snorkel.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A new chapter in our cruising life has begun

Next to taking care of Tika we moved back and fourth from anchorage to anchorage according to her vet appointments. Doing so we met many new cruisers, got together for dinners, met them for happy hours at restaurants, took part at the weekly Clark's Court Marina potluck, especially the Karaoke which was always loads of fun Cynthia and I kept the place up until at least midnight singing our hearts out and eventually got other cruisers involved in it. I'm sure the boaters in the marina had to put ear plugs in to be able to sleep. We also caught up with Audrey Page Allayne and Dennis we had met in Venezuela last year. What a nice and fun couple, we had them over for dinner on Paradise along with Mike and Cindy on Minx and had a wonderful evening with loads of cop stories Dennis and Sid told us. We hope to catch up with them in many more anchorages to come as they headed west towards Panama.

Jane on Cheetah 2 organized a ladies day, we went to a very beautiful resort on the beach and I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life, it was a fun day. There were other things to do like boat stuff, provisioning, rain shuffle, soaking Sid's foot as he stubbed his toe again.

It's been already over one week since we had to say good-bye to Tika. It's just a pet a lot of people would say but the void in our hearts is so great, it hurts so much to not have Tika with us anymore, even Paradise is not the same. So a new chapter in our cruising life is starting. I for once felt like running away, just running away. As the hurting slowly goes away Paradise was ready to set sail and go back where we had left of, the Grenadines. On October 10th we pulled anchor sailed back to Tyrrel Bay in Carriacou. The seas were calm even when we sailed across the part where strong currents rule the waters between the islands and where the underwater volcano Kick'm Jenny lies, thee wind came out of the SE with about 12 knots and we had a wonderful motor sail towards Carriacou until about 8 miles from the island when a squall, I have to add a huge squall dumped a lot of water on us, soaked us to the bones and took the SE wind away and turned the until now calm water to a lumpy chop. I think the changing current helped as well, but the wind now was coming right on the nose and we had to tack back and fourth to make it to Carriacou, not without another squall drenching us.
We are safely anchored in our old spot and are spinning our minds where to go next. So hopefully this time the propagation on the ham radio is better so that I can keep you posted on our where about.

Friday, October 02, 2009

In loving Memory

With sadness we had to say good-bye to our little girl Tika. She gave us unconditional love and left big paw prints on our hearts:

There's something missing in my home,

I feel it day and night,

I know it will take time and strength

before things feel quite right.

But just for now, I need to mourn,

My heart -- it needs to mend.

Though some may say, "It's just a pet,"

I know I've lost a friend.

You've brought such laughter to my home,

and richness to my days.

A constant friend through joy or loss

with gentle, loving ways.

Companion, friend, and confidante,

A friend I won't forget.

You'll live forever in my heart,

My sweet, forever pet.

*Susanne Taylo

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Waiting for test results and mail

Sid's foot was getting better until he stubbed his toe again not just that he also stepped on a bee with that food ouch. We always used to make fun of him being Polish but we figured out that this is not really the problem, the real problem is his name. As all names have a meaning Sid's meaning is: Troubled and Bruised. So I guess we can't blame it on being Polish anymore we can blame it on his parents for naming him Sid LOL. In the mean time we've been moving back and fourth from Grand Anse to Clark's Court to True Blue for another Vet appointment back to Clark's and so fourth. The anchorages are so close together it really isn't much of an effort to move and gives us an excuse to make water. Tika did her two weeks of antibiotics and during that time she worsened. She was not herself at all, listless, drinking water excessively, didn't eat much, couldn't get comfortable in any position, spacey and we knew she was in pain. The new blood work showed that her Kidney reading had bettered from 59 down to 38 but she'll have a kidney problem from now on. She also lost 400 grams in just two weeks which is a lot for a little kitty like her. We're just waiting on her urine test before we make a decision. The doctor of course is optimistic that with a special diet and medication she could live a bit longer with this kidney condition. The problem is she does not like the new food which is low on protein and salt as she is a very picky eater. Also giving her meds is a torture for all three of us and not to mention last this special food and meds we can only get at special places we know they don't have in many country down here.
Anyway, we've been meeting new cruisers, making new friends so to speak and Manuela goes for daily walks with the girls. The Clark's Court area is really a nice area for it and very scenic although some of the trails are very tough. Saturday nights we join everybody for the potluck at the Clark's Court Marina where Cynthia and Manuela became Karaoke buddies, as soon as they start singing the place empties out but they have a wonderful time anyway until at least midnight.
So we're waiting on the test and also for our mail then we'll see what comes next. Weather has been just wonderful no tropical waves, no or not much rain, best of all no hurricanes and weather is still promising which for this time of the year is very unusual so we keep our fingers crossed that it stays that way.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Antibiotics for Tika

What a kewl date. It's been a while since we've been back in Grenada. For some reason we cannot get hooked up on email via our amateur radio and therefore we could not update regularly so we're a bit behind. Not sure what the problem is but it seems other cruisers are having the same problem. We had a great and smooth sail back to Grenada and hunkered down in True Blue Bay the southern end of Grenada. True Blue is a fairly small bay and due to lots of moorings from Horizon Yacht Charters there was no room for us to anchor. Although just before you enter the bay is a little bite that leaves enough room for 2 to 3 boats and so we anchored there. This turned out to be the perfect spot as we were protected from the south easterly swell and all by ourselves.
A fisherman placed a fairly good size net behind our boat and left it there. The next morning when he came to check on it he brought a beautiful spotted eagle ray to the surface and had to cut it out of the net it was so entangled. I called to him to let this beautiful animal go, but of course he just laughed and ignored me. To our surprise he didn't pull in the net but left it there and took off again. The following afternoon we noticed that something else was caught in the net so I went snorkeling and to my horror I saw another spotted eagle ray entangled in his net. I pulled the poor animal up and tried to free it, it was so entangled and impossible to get him free. Poor thing had already numerous scars from the net and was bleeding. I also noticed a huge spike just before his long tail started and thought to myself that there was nothing for me to do after all I didn't want to get stung by it. I did pet it tough and was amazed on how soft the skin was.
The very first day in this anchorage I took Tika to the vet, they tried to get blood and urine sample from her but failed so I had to return on Monday. Following Sunday we received the result, Tika has a very bad urinary track infection and shows signs of kidney failure and needed to be on antibiotics ASAP. While we waited for the result we headed to Clark's Court Bay and caught up with Diane on Jabulani. While there Jane on Cheetah II organized an Oil-Down trip. Oil-Down is a national dish the guys usually cook. It's a one pot meal with ingredients from chicken to picks tails, salt fish, bread fruit, green papaya, yam, pumpkin, green bananas, Callaloo leaves, turmeric they call saffron and coconut milk which was made out of grated fresh coconuts. We all participated in getting this wonderful dish together. Layer and layer of all the goodies went into the pot which then was cooked over an open fire. The whole village showed up for the oil down and all they ate was all the many deserts all the cruisers brought. I think the place was called Saint Davids and was up the mountains overlooking the east coast of Grenada. It was amazing what all crew there, cinnamon trees (they used the wood for the fire), star fruit or five finger fruit they call, mango, papaya, coconut, allspice, bananas, sour sop or guanábana, okra, carrots, all kind of herbs and many more things I don't remember.
Some of the girls went for walks in the morning and so I joined them it was a tough walk getting us over many steep hills, I was sore for a couple of days. The scenery though is very beautiful and I will go for other walks with the girls again. Clark's Court Bay is unfortunately a bit out in nowhere and going shopping is a bit tougher.
As soon as we received the news about Tika's condition we went pack to Prickly Bay where I then picked up her Antibiotics she needs to be on for the next two week. Then she has to do another blood test to see if the kidney is better as well, poor thing. While at Prickly we also did laundry worth two months, get this in Carriacou you can only get laundry washed by a service at 35 EC a load, which is 13 US$, ouch.
On the 8th we celebrated our 19th Anniversary with a rack of lamb and champagne dinner in and on Paradise. Wow 19 years already and it feels like it was just yesterday. Unfortunately big waves started rolling into the anchorage and made it almost unbearable, well for the other boats, we used both flopper stopper and had a relative quite night compared to everybody else. Needles to say we pulled anchor the following day and since we wanted to catch up with Marlene and Bruno on Diesel Duck we sailed up to Grand Anse Beach and anchored behind them. They just arrived a few weeks back from circumnavigating South America, around Cape Horn wow.
Sid's foot is getting better although his toe is still giving him a lot of grief, but at least he can leave the boat again and go boat part shopping.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Back in Grenada

(LATITUDE: 12-38.11N LONGITUDE: 061-21.67W)
It rained enough over the few days for us to catch enough water to do some laundry. We filled the ice chest with water added detergent plus laundry closed the lid pulled anchor and headed back towards Tobago Cay while the motion of the ocean moved our cloths just like in a washing machine, well Sid had to help a bit later. This time we anchored by the entrance since the reef side is on the bumpy side this was so much calmer and offers an even more spectacular view over the reefs to Mayreau Island. The colors of the water and the green of the islands make this place a real jewel. We were the only ones anchored and saw that in the reef anchorage only 14 boats were at anchor after all this is the end of this years yachting season. We enjoyed being by ourselves and towards the evening a few dinghies gathered on the beach next to us and the kids started having a race in their kayaks and headed straight for Paradise, Sid grabbed the checkered flag we have and waved it to the winning kayak. They had so much fun they invited us to join them on the beach for some rum punch which we did. One couple was from Switzerland, one family from England, one from Russia and one from Colombia. We had so much fun they all invited us to join them in Chatham Bay the next day.
When we woke up the next day the most beautiful view awaited us, I wished I could describe it, the water was as clear as the air and you could see miles and miles even Carriacou wasn't just a blur but crystal clear and we could see Paul and Karin's house, the colors so vivid we could no take our eyes of it. Around noon we lifted anchor and sailed with spinnaker up out of this Paradise and had an incredible spinnaker run to Chatham Bay on the west side of Union island.
(LATITUDE: 12-36.22N LONGITUDE: 061-26.93W)
This is again an entirely different looking anchorage, surrounded with steep lush hills in-between showing some rugged cliffs while a steep too with sandy beach rested on the foot. The bay is very protected from wind and wave unless it should come out of the west which is rare but the wind tends to shriek down the hills and hit the boats and any angle. The water was clear and turtles popped up all around us. I went for a snorkel but did not find any of them.
We met up with the beach party crew and had a great evening with fun and games.
At the beach party in Tobago Sid had pulled a muscle or tendon on his left ankle that gave him a lot of grief for two days he couldn't step on hid foot and it was swollen pretty bad so he was out of commission. Not just that poor Tika hasn't been herself lately and is getting worse. She's 14 years old and started to loose her pee, first we thought that she was not happy and showing it to us in leaving us presents either on the bed or on top of the dodger. Over the weeks it's gotten worse and since a few days it's really bad and Sid noticed that even when she lays somewhere there is a wet spot around her, which means she's not aware of it, not good for her and for us as I have no laundry machine on the boat. We decided best to head back to Grenada where there is a good veterinarian hospital. I tell you either we are the Grizwald's or the cruising is tough.
We sailed around the corner to Clifton checked out with the authority then sailed back to Hillsborough where we caught a nice big fish. Checked back into Carriacou and headed over to Paul and Karin's house to tell them about our plans. We spend a nice dinner with them at the house and pulled anchor at 4 am in the morning and headed back to Grenada.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau Island

Bad weather was predicted as another tropical waves was closing in, this one was predicted with gusts up to 45 knots so it was best to leave the reef and find a more protected anchorage as this anchorage was pretty rough at almost all times when wind and current played games with each other. We sailed 3 miles back and settled in Salt Whistle Bay the northern part of Mayreau Island
which is a small bay able to hold about 30 boats and is surrounded by a beautiful sandy beach.
You can find it on Google Earth with:
LATITUDE: 12-38.87N LONGITUDE: 061-23.49W).
The northern part of the beach is like a window where you can look through to the other side where crashing waves foamed over the reef. The beach was overgrown with palm trees, hidden between them was a resort which you could not see from the anchorage and beyond the beach a high hill overgrown with lush vegetation. We eventually ventured ashore to find that the resort was abandoned, not sure if just for the season or for good. The anchorage was a bit rolly so the flopper stopper came in handy again and we sat nice and calm while all the other sailboats rocked from ear to ear. After the sun had set and the darkness crept over us the first squalls showed up and pelted us with heavy rain then the wind really let loose and for a good 20 minutes howled at a steady 30 knots with gusts up to 35 knots, pretty intense. It rained for a long time and it took a couple hours for the wind to calm down again to no gusts. In the mean time we collected a lot of water which filled up our sun shower bag. We sat in this most beautiful anchorage for 3 days watching one boat after another leave and new ones show up again while Sid sill recuperated. Were definitely in the land of French charter boats as wherever you looked naked people walked around on their boats and any boat anchoring tries to get as close to the next boat even if they drop the anchor almost on top of the other boats, amazing. We had fun watching though, the anchoring that is!!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tobago Cays

To approach the Tobago Cays from the south is a bit tricky as there is a reef on either side between the Cays and Mayreau Island and since we didn't know the area we did it the save way and sailed around Mayreau and entered the Tobago Cays from the north, which is recommended. In either case it's a short trip of 8 miles. As we left Clifton and headed into the channel towards Mayreau the water turned beautiful cobalt blue and even though it was anywhere from 30 to 50 feet deep we could see the bottom and everything on it, unbelievable. The backside of Mayreau revealed two beautiful anchorages although they looked a bit on the rolly side and coming around the northern end a beautiful bay opens up which is called Salt Whistle Bay, very inviting. From here it was only 3 more miles to the Cays which again we had to pay attention to hidden reefs on either side. When we arrived we were speechless because of the beautiful scenery that was around us. Every thing had colors the water all the blue shades you can imagine and the islands the freshest greens, it really takes your breath away. If you've seen the Bahamas this is just like it except the islands are taller and very lush I don't think you can walk between the bushes and trees. We chose to take the channel between two of the four islands to get to the anchorage which all is surrounded by a large horse shoe shaped reef. The view from here was just as spectacular. The channel between the first two islands showed all the blue colors depending on the depth and was so clear you could see the bottom then as we came out of the cut and turner right around the corner a huge area opened up with a large anchor area to choose from. Even thought there were over 50 boats in this place mostly huge catamarans it still left plenty of spaces to anchor. We found a suitable spot and dropped the anchor in 10 feet of water which was so clear you wanted to jump in it immediately. The anchor was barely set as the first reef inhabitant a huge seas turtle popped up next to us to greet us with a loud air blow. As fast as she appeared she descended into the water again, wow. It took me about 30 seconds to get my snorkel gear and climbed down the ladder. After my fins were on I fitted my mask and as I looked under the boat I couldn't believe my eyes, right below me was a nurse shark my size: "fast Sid give me my camera!" The shark hung around for a while and didn't mind me taking photos of him then I swam about 20 feet away from the boat when I had the next encounter a beautiful turtle. I don't know how long I was snorkeling around but I know I took at least 100 photos of many turtles. Unfortunately Sid came up with a cold and skipped in the fun I had. After drying off I finally sat down and looked around our new surrounding it was absolutely beautiful with light blue water all the way to the reef, behind it crashing waves then nothing but white capped ocean, blue sky with some white puffy clouds, to the other side the beautiful small islands of the cays and behind Union island, to the south we could even see PSV and Carriacou.
That same night Sid hooked up the under water light again and barely in the water lots of little fish showed up and circled the bright light. Not even 10 minutes later a big needle fish came by then a huge shadow showed up and revealed a stingray, how exciting is that. 5 minutes later something else closed in then we saw the white spots as a beautiful spotted eagle ray swim buy double wow. We couldn't keep our eyes of the water. The following day we snorkeled the outer reef but the current was so strong that we gave up after a short time. It was beautiful though and some areas looked like fish tanks. Sid still didn't feel too good so I ventured by myself to the turtle area where dinghies and boats are forbidden. As soon as I entered this area I saw one turtle after another all grazing on the ocean bottom on seaweed. Now and then they swim up to the surface to catch some breath then submerge to the bottom again. It must have been hours I followed and watched them, it was just amazing. The turtles have the most unique patterns and colors on their shell making it look like it was painted on. They didn't seem to mind me following them up and down from surface to bottom taking photos in the contrary they were just as interested in watching me as I watched them, one came up to the surface facing me and just inches away looking with its gentle eyes right into mine, unforgettable.
We had another visitor on board a female black bird whose daily routine is to board anchored boats to especially investigate the galleys. She was not shy and sat down right next to me while I fed her some dried cat food pieces. The second day she saw me on deck and flew right next to me but left when she realized I did not have food with me. The third time she visited us she ventured into the galley and got surprised by kitty Tika who at the time slept on the sofa. You should have seen Tika's groggy and puzzled look on her face when she chased the bird into the cockpit. I think she wasn't sure if it was real or a dream.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Union Island, St. Vincent Grenadines

08/18/09 If there is such a thing as a "Perfect Day" I can say we just had one. Waking up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee Sid prepares for me every morning is always a perfect way to start another day in and on Paradise. After enjoying this morning's coffee with the lovely view over Tyrell Bay with crystal clear water below our keel Sid cranked the motor up, pulled anchor and we motored around the corner to my favorite spot Sandy Isle. Yes, we motored as we turned the water maker on. We anchored in 11 feet of even clearer water than in Tyrell a short distance away from the white sandy beach, it felt like being on top of a swimming pool. We enjoyed this idyllic retreat to the fullest and around three in the afternoon we plunged into the refreshing water and snorkeled ashore, there we walked along the white sanded beach to the west end, which really just takes a few minutes as the island is only about a quarter of a mile long and ventured back into the water to discover the reef on this side. Unfortunately the last few hurricanes have devastated the coral reefs in this area and left a lot of broken and crumbled coral heads. Despite the devastation we still saw some interesting fish of all colors. One in particular interested my eye this one seemed to glow in the most beautiful cobalt blue color and was about 2 inches and right beside them are little tiny yellow fish cleaning the cobalt fish, a perfect miniature fish display. Snorkeling back towards the boat the scenery changed from rugged broken off coral to sand patches in between then just sandy bottom with some occasional broken off coral pieces and then we saw a school of calamari. Did I just write Calamari, I meant squid the perfect size to look really yummy in my frying pan no wonder calamari came to mind. Right below the calamari a stingray was resting on the sandy bottom with a weary eye on us. Back at the boat we sat down to a cocktail reliving the beautiful snorkel then watching the sun disappear beyond the horizon. For dinner I prepared us some broiled duck legs a la Provencal with some garlic fettuccini and a spinach salad with pine nuts and a hot bacon dressing. While I did dishes Sid hung the underwater fishing light which surrounded Paradise with a turquoise blue hue, looked like the ambiance lights in a swimming pool. Above us was the clearest sky and occasional scooting stars interrupted us watching the many small fish and plankton assembling around the light. What we really hoped for was for the squid to show up the idea of calamari was still making my mouth water, but they didn't. Sid tried to cast the fishing rod a couple of times only to tangle up the reel and then snagging a little jack. We laid on deck for a while marveling up into the sky which at this time of the year reveals the milky way, Scorpio and the tea kettle until our eyelids fell shut. Now wouldn't you say this was a perfect day? The following day we snorkeled again in the crystal clear water, this time we headed to the south reef and on the way there I noticed a fairly good sized spotted sea snake turning over coral pieces scurrying up food. We snorkeled this reef already last time when we saw a good size slipper lobster walking around and were amazed on how many more fish we saw on this day. The visibility was a lot better as well. Coming around the corner of the island bigger fish appeared some that would have looked pretty darn good in my frying pan as well and on our way back to the boat yet another sea snake the opposite color from the previous one slithered across the bottom below us, amazing. Sandy Isle definitely is my favorite anchorage so far in the Caribbean.
In the mean time tropical storm Ana has formed and dissipated to a tropical wave again and tropical storm Bill has turned into a full blown hurricane. Neither one are a threat for us in the contrary they sucked all the moisture out of this area leaving us with clear sky and moderate winds. Perfect condition to head up to the Tobago Cays which are best visited in calm and sunny conditions to really enjoy the spectacular view.
Many boaters are heading south out of the hurricane belt. Luckily this year is another El Niño year has kept the weather at bay. The Pacific side is already on their 7th or 8th storm while the Atlantic has just started. If we're lucky we'll be able to play around until the end of this month before heading south and out of the hurricane belt. Bill is a monster of a cloud and the good thing is that hurricanes never travel south as soon as they hit hurricane force winds they travel northwest to north; looks like he'll miss the Eastern Caribbean completely but is headed straight for Bermuda.

We only had 7 miles to sail to Union Island in the St. Vincent Grenadines but of course the wind blowing anywhere from 15 to 18 knots was right on the nose so we motored the entire way as we also had the water maker on. The swells became rather big, we think it was caused by Hurricane Bill and so the trip was lumpy bumpy. There are a few reefs you have to keep an eye on so staying on course of course is what you want to do venturing the first time into any area.
As soon as we approached the anchorage at Clifton a speed boat approached and tried to tell us we needed to pick up a mooring and motioned to follow him. We were not going to take a mooring and noticed that none of the other boats were on mooring so we anchored. He kept coming after us and barely let us anchor when he approached the boat and tried to sell us anything from propane, laundry service, fuel at 15 EC a gallon ($5.55 yikes it's only 3.70 in Petite Martinique). Later on in the afternoon he approached Sid in the cockpit again and wanted to know if he wanted to buy some ganja?! LOL he definitely asked the wrong guy. Checking in was a piece of cake then we walked around the town which definitely has a more European flair and every other store is a souvenir store with outrageously high prices I guess welcome to the Caribbean, even the two beers we had were 6 bucks and the bottle was a mini bottle. I haven't been able to find any lettuce of any kind in over a week, heard not even Grenada has any on the shelf, here I found some one head of lettuce just enough to make a salad for two people for 6 bucks ouch. I think we'll be living of our canned goods for a while. Clifton is a very charming town and we will spend some more time here but for now the weather is being played right by Bill so we'll head out tomorrow to visit the Tobago Cays.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Heat Exchanger Replaced

After the health day to recoup we took the dinghy around the south side of Carriacou (3 miles) to the most beautiful little island with a sand beach surrounding all but the south side of it. The island is surrounded by reefs and the beach is steep to and the wind was blowing quite a bit and sand blasted our legs. Of course I forgot my camera to capture this idyllic scenery. We explored the island and found a little pond that was filled up with conch shells, some were very new and we picked 4 of them, which later after cleaning them up turned out to be really pretty shells we'll fix so they can be used as a horn. A little over an hour later Beex showed up with a boatload full of kids and the liming started again.
This was the last vacation day for Mark and family and our last lime with them. The following day Paul sailed them to Grenada and we were left alone to now really recuperate. On Monday we ordered the new heat exchanger and told the guy to make sure to send it the fasted way with UPS. Email came with which we hoped the tracking number but instead the guy wanted to know what the zip code here was. There is none so the part didn't get shipped until Tuesday leaving us little hope to receiving it before the weekend. On Wednesday we got a tracking number and when I tracked it UPS said that it'll be delivered here on the 13th that was on the 5th. We were bummed as we knew that now we had to wait until Carnival was over. On the 7th I tracked it again and to our surprise it said that it had arrived in Carriacou on the 6th. WHAT???!!!! Of course by now Friday afternoon at 4 PM it was now too late to go to customs to pick it up and we gave it a shot on Saturday to find out that customs was closed for the weekend, well we did see our package on the floor behind the counter the friendly person worked who now also told us that Monday and Tuesday was a holiday for us to come back on Wednesday. So on the 12th we finally received the package and the following day after hard labor Sid replaced the heat exchange. Getting the part was kind of weird. Customs just handed us the box with two forms we had to fill out and told us to go to the next door building to pay and let us walk out of there with our goods. I tell you we could have just walked back to the boat and they would have never known, but as honest as we are we went to the next door office which was a little bigger then a shoe box and the two of us had just about enough room to watch the girl behind her desk frantically trying to find the code for the heat exchange. 2 hours later she found it under shafts and propeller, weird. And we had to try hard not to laugh out loud whenever she was calling a supervisor that she could not find the part code, you have to know the dialect they have here is even worse than in Trinidad and to us it seemed like the don't even don't understand each other, just too funny. After paying a small fee we were underway, which brings me to the Taxi ride home. If you think you can come into town and be back on your boat within an hour which could be possible, put it out of your mind, because the taxi most likely will stop at every store and shop for their own needs. I think it took us 2 hours to get back to Tyrell Bay which should be a 15 minute ride, but I tell you it was entertaining, wouldn't have wanted to miss it.
The weather has been pretty good with although occasional squalls making us do the rain shuffle over and over again and a few low weather systems have built which now are an eventual threat to become the first hurricane of this season. Oh, I guess the time of hurricanes is over they call them now tropical cyclones. We're still in Tyrell Bay but will start moving around, probably today we'll head back to Sandy Isle and wait for Paul and Karen to come back and spend some one on one time with them without any other guests then we'll try to get to Mareau and Tobago Cays before the weather gets to threatening for us. So far we love the Grenadines with its crystal clear waters in all the blue colors you can imagine.
Unfortunately it's rather on the pricy side here, a bottle of coke costs 3$, a medium size chicken 15 bucks, ouch. Tomatoes 5 bucks a pound, beer 2 bucks a bottle but get this I buy conch for 2 bucks a piece, so what do you think we're eating. We even put a few in the freezer. One of the locals here told me a yummy recipe for a conch or rather Lambi Bloody Mary. Put two conch in the pressure cooker fill with one inch of water and cook for 20 minutes. Melt some butter with garlic, slice the lambi/conch into thin slices dip in butter and enjoy, very rich and tasty, but for the BM use the cooled down juice with tomato sauce and make your BM, I tell you better then using Clamata juice. So life's good and we're getting really good at the rain shuffle.
Almost forgot on the 12th we celebrated the 32nd birthday of Paradise she's an old girl now but looks better the older she gets.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Paradise Beach, Carriacou

Since my last posting we’ve been so buys with doing the rain shuffle, moving the boat around, watching the regatta plus the following potlucks, liming with Paul and Karin and ordering a heat exchanger for our motor. Yes, the heat exchanger is leaking, it’s not all too bad yet so we can run the engine and keep our batteries topped off to keep the fridge and freezer going. Part is underway but we hope it’ll get here before this weekend as next week Carnival starts in Grenada and during that time nothing is open and no body works and our part has to go through Grenada, we’re holding our breath. Actually I almost want to say it’s not going to happen, so let’s wait and see. In the mean time we had many rain showers until the day the regatta started since then it’s been just beautiful. Yesterday was the end of the 4 day regatta activities and go figure we are doing the rain shuffle again. We took part at a few of the festivities and watched a few races but most of the time we’ve been liming with Paul and Karin. We sailed the boat around and took their mooring in front of their beautiful home. You have to see this place to believe,

the villa is built halve way up the steep hill and is overlooking the northern part of Carriacou with Hillsborough a few islands, one of them which is not even a mile across from the mooring called Sandy Isle, what a jewel then the view passes beyond Sandy Isle to Union island and all the rest of the Grenadine Islands. The color of the water varies on depth and shows all the blue and turquoise shades you can just imagine. It was a happy reunion meeting them in their house plus a surprise, Mark and his family whom we met on the Trinidad Hashes is vacationing with Paul and Karin. Can’t get away from the Hashers! Since then we’ve been pretty much liming with them. Where we were moored was a bit bumpy so the following day we moved over to Sandy Isle which is a sliver of a sandy spit at parts over grown with some almond trees and ice plants the sand is white and very fine and the scenery just breath taking. We anchored in 8 feet of the clearest water, so clear even at night you can see the bottom. We had a couple of good limes on the beach with Paul and company plus his parents and other friends who sailed their boats up from Trinidad as well. Sunday we all were invited at some other friend’s house Toni, Laura plus on the other side of the island and so the boats moved back to Tyrrel Bay and we all organized a taxi van to get us to the party. What awaited us there was the most beautiful view over flat calm turquoise and blue water protected by a big reef which surrounds the north and east side of Carriacou. Carriacou by the way means reef. Beyond the reef about 3 miles away the two islands of Petite Martinique (PM) and Petite San Vincent (PSV), just breathtaking. Not just that along the beach the BBQ was hot and ready for the most delicious baby back ribs followed by seared fresh tuna. A local group with native drums showed up and entertained us, we all had a blast. Unfortunately time went by way too fast and the taxi was already back to drive us back to Tyrrel. Early the next morning Paul picked us up, drove to their house, climbed down to the beach and sailed his boat across to the same reef where we picked up Laura from there we sailed across to PM and PSV. The two islands are joined by a big reef with deep enough water for boats to anchor. We anchored off the beach at PSV which is a privately owned island with only one resort which is frequented by the rich and famous. After along day with loads of swimming, liming, drinking champagne we sailed back to the drop Laura off then the boats decided to spend the night there. Laura drove Sid und me back to Tyrell since we had to run the engine to recharge the batteries. We had way too much fun in the last few days so we will not join them today for another fun lime somewhere in these beautiful waters. We need a general health day to recoup!