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Getting Prepared (warning: this post is not for vegetarians)

October 27, 2017

It’s fall and the anchorages and boatyards are buzzing with activity. The hurricane season is slowly winding down and thoughts are directed to moving on. People are flying in from all over the world to ready their boats for another season. Those who stayed the summer south of the hurricane belt doing odd jobs on their boats, volunteering on hurricane relief, teaching children how to read or simply enjoying life in the tropics are turning thoughts to moving on.

For Sage that means getting prepared for a movement northwards travelling through islands devastated by the past season’s hurricanes and further northward to remote islands lacking in supplies or unaffordable and dubiously dated products . With the hull being painted below the waterline, worn parts being replaced, old awnings replaced with new our attention moves to canned goods.

For 20 years of sailing adventures we have always canned our own meat to get us through those areas that don’t have fresh supplies. We choose to can as we don’t have a freezer and besides that we have been many places where freezers on other boats have failed, and, like flies, other cruisers have been beneficiaries of others failed refrigeration. For us that doesn’t happen. I won’t say we haven’t had failed refrigeration but if we have we haven’t lost a season’s supplies.

For canning we need space, a good stove with oven, refrigeration and a store with a selection of meats (you guessed it we’re not vegetarian). Close to where Sage is moored we found the perfect spot. A rental unit ($55 Cdn) with all the necessary equipment 150 metres from Sage’s stern. So our work begins. We have to dig deep into the hidden corners of Sage’s lockers to find the pressure canner , jars, lids etc. We loaded all the supplies into amarina wheelbarrow and headed off to our new two night accommodation.

Connie carting over the supplies and as usual she’s keeping ‘left’

It’s the end result we are most interested in. It’s a long time coming as each batch takes 90 minutes to process. Each load takes either 5 pint jars or 10 1/2 pint jars and sometimes during the processing one of the jars breaks in the pressure canner

we manage to can 32 jars of meat which means 1 can per day for a month. We don’t use it like that but rather as a supplement to what is available locally. Throughout most of the Caribbean we should be able to use local products but once in the Bahamas our understanding is supplies are limited and expensive. We hope to be in deserted anchorages with crystal clear waters covered in conch. We’re a little tired of ‘lambi’ (conch) as it’s a feature in all the Caribbean islands so our cans of meat will be welcomed.


The End Result

Equipment needed:

1 pressure canner – must be capable of maintaining a pressure of 10-15 lb/ Preference is for a canner with a gauge


Glass jars with accompanying screw rings and disposable lids


Tool for lifting hot jars

Stove top with oven if possible

Lots of hot water

Meat – your choice. Remember the meat is gets well cooked so no need to buy expensive cuts

A bundle of towels for handling and drying equipment


Summertime in the tropics

October 19, 2017

Summertime -in the tropics? It’s not something I can recommend but the one good thing is that it has saved us from the devastating effects of the hurricanes that  have ravaged the northern windward islands of the Caribbean.



Love both versions

We haven’t been very adventurous preferring to stay in Grenada for the past three months enjoying the various Grenadian offerings of carnival, waterfall visits, jerk chicken and occasionally a movie at the local theatre (best show yet has been Bladerunner 2040).

We have also managed to get a little bit of work done on the boat. We hauled out at the end of September, Connie returned to Ontario and I  have been getting the odd jobs done on the boat while on dry land and then re-launched where work continued.  We should be ready for the winter season and a migration that will take us northwards.

Food is always of interest. I won’t say the Caribbean is the food-hounds paradise. Choices vary from jerk chicken to fish with what they call provisions which is things such as plantain, breadfruit, taro and potatoes

St. George’s is built on a hillside so as soon as one leaves the core it’s climb up the hill with the positive results of getting nice views

View overlooking St. George’s harbour towards the marina we are in called Port Louis

Now Grenada does have great chocolate. This is my favourite downtown shop also known as the chocolate museum. Has great milkshakes

Then there are the rum factories. here is one still using a water wheel to crush the cane. There’s such a variety of rum one can have a great time sampling them all

And then there are always the dramas that happen.

Post Hurricane Maria – Dominica – how to help

September 21, 2017

Dominica is one of our favourite Caribbean Island nations. Historically Dominica was invaded and controlled by France and England. In 1978 Dominica gained independence from Britain and since then has charted its own course. It’s often referred to as the ‘island of nature’ with volcanic craters, a lake called ‘Boiling Lake’, a large rainforest and lush flora and fauna. The national GDP is approximately $520 million with an estimated population of 75,000.

Most other Caribbean island nations maintain close ties to their colonizers; Martinique/Guadeloupe/St. Marteen are departments of France with full financial supports nd robust economies. US Virgin Islands (USVI) and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) have connections to the United States and Britain respectively and have high powered wealthy residents like Richard Branson to advocate and rebuild.

Dominica is alone. With few cruise ships, only one large resort now under construction, a rural economy and a few yachties visiting it has few resources to recover. When we toured the island earlier in the year they were still using ‘temporary’ bridges that were constructed after the extensive damage caused from flooding in tropical storm Erica in 2015.

How can one help a country that doesn’t have a resident celebrity to advocate for them nor a robust tourist sector rebuild from a Force 5 hurricane? According to early reports Rouseau, the capital, has been devastated with over 85% of homes blown down or roofs missing and major institutions crippled. Little has been heard from the back country as I am sure bridges have once again disappeared and communication towers and power lines destroyed. We do know in the north, Portsmouth, that the hospital’s roof got blown off.

Here in St George’s, Grenada, boats are headed north with supplies. There are tugs, barges, motor and sailboats headed up with emergency materials today and over the next couple of weeks for which we have helped buy goods. But it’s the longer term where help is needed and where perhaps you as readers of the blog can find somewhere to donate/help Dominica directly.

We don’t want Dominca’s plight to be lost in the onslaught of calls for help from the more ‘star-studded’playgrounds of the Caribbean. Their plight is real but Dominca will get lost and forgotten in the mix.

Hurricane Maria

Media – recent media coverage on Dominica and Hurricane Maria

October 19th NYCEastern Caribbean Relief Fund

NY Times update on how to help

Update Sept 28th

BBC report

The Guardian’s recent story on Hurricane Maria

Washington Post

Sept 22nd CNN

Possible places to give help – we will update this section as time goes on

Help a Dominican rebuild

Dominica disaster relief facebook

Crowdfunding organization

while this was written for assistance to Irma’s victims this may be a good resource for Dominica in the coming weeks

Looking for someone or reporting on someone

All Mash Up

September 19, 2017

Lying safetly here in the marina in Grenada Connie just came back from the pool. She spent the last hour trying to cool down while playing in the pool with a young girl, Daniella, who escaped Virgin Gorda onboard Nekker Belle, Richard Branson’s yacht. She was telling Connie how Hurricane Irma ‘all mash up’ Virgin Gorda with the school house roof gone, the trees all blown down and people who have no houses.

This is the second time Nekker Belle has been in the marina. The first time was to escape Hurricane Irma and now escaping Hurricane Maria.

It’s all very sad and now we add Dominica to the list of islands devestated by the 2017 hurricane season.

We’re glad we made the decision to head south as we had been tempted to stay in either Antigua or Martinique which both learnt the fury of a Level 5 hurricane. There are plenty of videos to watch on line taken during these storms and it’s unthinkable how a boat like ours would survive. It’s all a matter of luck as where one would seek protection and what would happen to other boats around you.

Now we just have to watch uwhat is going to happen to Lee. I can hardly wait for the end of this hurricane season but we still have about 6 weeks to go then we will be wending our way north and through many of the islands that will be trying to recover.


Updates and additional readings

1 – Comments in the New Yorker

2 – If you feel you want to help in some way here are some ideas that come from the SVTotem’s blog site. Click here


Hurricane Irma Aftermath

September 7, 2017

If you want to see pictures of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma see the link below:

And these islands are about to experience their second hurricane (Jose) coming in Irma’s path.

Hurricane Irma

September 5, 2017

We are only thankful we are south of the centre of this hurricane. We are thinking of all the people on the islands who are going to be impacted by this event.

And yet it’s not over with this one. Just 5 days behind it is another tropical storm called Jose. Not yet a hurricane but slowly growing in intensity.

Even here in Grenada we feel Irma’s impact. Wind is from the west, clouds move north east and the temperature and humidity is soaring.

Great infrared photo of Irma approaching Antigua. Guadeloupe is the island to the south.

Click below to see a great graphical representation of what happens with the increasing strength of a hurricane

The Ancient Mariner

August 22, 2017

There was a time when all we had was a sextant to help us navigate. We did that for 10 years. That got us a circumnavigation around the Pacific including stops in the Tuamotus, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines, Japan, the Aleutian Islands and Alaska.

Since that trip the sextant has lain in its box only to be brought out to polish and oil. However, yesterday we had a good use for the sextant – to watch the eclipse.