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What’sBeenHappening

August 7, 2017

Carriacou Sailing Regatta

A long weekend of sailing activities brought various racers from numerous islands together for an annual regatta off the beaches in Hillsborough and Tyrell Bay. Local boats as well as foreign cruising boats all participated for a long weekend of sun, sea, salt and beer!

Getting ready

 

Blackberry is the boat but don’t see any mobile phones from Canada around

strategizing

Sleeping it off till the next race

Want to go sailing on my yacht?

Dinner at Bogos Roundhouse

A sailor’s gathering at a rather expensive restaurant. But what isn’t expensive in the Caribbean? At least when we finally get to North America we’ll think it’s cheap.

Great dinner prepared by what is known as one of the best chefs in the Caribbean. And all in an incredible setting.

And on to Grenada

Arrived in time for Carnival. Lots of music and colour much of which we are going to see on Monday 0430hrs to 1200noon. Apparently a parade where masses of thrown paint, chocolate and whatever else is around is scattered over the participants. Businesses have boarded up their storefronts along the route. We’ll see what’s happening.

Main harbour is St. George’s

Last night went to the cricket stadium to see Panorama which is supposed to be the final competition of the pan bands. We waited three hours for the event to start which it never did! The bands had assembled outside the stadium and were practising but never got to perform? Have no idea what happened.

More later.

Busted Myths

July 31, 2017

I want to dispel a few myths that seem to be circulating due to a number of comments put on my last blog by uninformed readers.

Blog readers seem to have the impression that Connie is doing all the work onboard Sage. Well known to everyone in all the anchorages Connie does handle anchoring duties. We are in the 1% bracket of yachts without an electric windlass. While many may think that sending Connie up to do the anchoring without an electric windlass is akin to abuse and slavery all I can say is that Connie remains in great shape. And besides that the technical knowledge behind running the engine, changing gears and reading the chart for a suitable anchoring spot requires hours of hard study and concentration.

Of course, once the anchor has been set, it is Connie’s duty to make sure the efforts of the helmsman in setting the anchor with the engine is complete. This involves diving down 3-8 metres to tug on the anchor on the sea bed.  Hence, suiting up for a deep dive in 3 metres of water with god knows what deep sea creatures around is Connie’s duty. Meanwhile on deck I always have my camera ready to record the event either be it a giant turtle careening down to the anchor or a great white sussing out the anchorage. Of course, I am always there to shout a warning despite Connie being under the surface completing her anchoring duties.

Making sure the ladder is down to allow Connie back on deck is my duty. It’s sometimes delayed by the kettle boiling indicating that the coffee is ready to pour so I make sure that Connie also has jumped over with some hull scrubbing tools to start cleaning the hull while I prepare the coffee. Oh yes, I forgot to mention Connie doesn’t drink coffee.

I could go on more about the divisions of work onboard a ship but for the time being I think I have said enough. However, if these myths persist I will have to, once again, respond.

Photo taken by the Admiral while the captain was grabbing a few moments of free time to catch up on needed rest

Connie checking the anchor while I mix the drinks!

July 30, 2017

Summer or Winter

July 27, 2017

There’s quite a difference between sailing the Caribbean in the summer rather than the winter.

Winter is the favoured season for sailing in the Caribbean for the majority of sailors. On the positive side the temperature and humidity are at their most comfortable, the winds blow steadily, onshore services are at their best and rainfall is at its minimum.

On the negative side the cruise ship visits are at their maximum, the anchorages are crowded, boat services are in short supply as demand is high, locals are busy trying to make hay while the sun shines and have little time for personal service, tropical fruits and vegetables are out of season and the anchorages mostly have music blaring out of bars, restaurants and party boats of which there are many.

Summer sailing is quieter. Northern hemisphere people stay at home enjoying their own summer season at cottages or on boats on lakes. The Caribbean charter companies have lines of boats tied up at moorings in numerous ports making most anchorages a lot quieter. Local fruits and vegetables overflow the market tables, the local people have more time to chat and if one needs to get work done on their boat then marine services are more timely and accessible. Prevailing winds are also more gentle. Gone are the constant 20-25knot north easterlies blowing night and day. The winds are still constant but more likely in the 10-15knot range and the seas between the islands more moderate.

On the negative side summer sailing is fraught with possibilities of hurricanes. Everyone watches weather information with eagle eyes. No matter where one is the location of the nearest hurricane hole(s) is in the back of one’s mind. Winds can be variable and squalls more vicious and longer lasting with more intense rain. Calms are more frequent and increased humidity more oppressive.

We’re enjoying the summer sailing more than the winter. The other sailors are more than likely long-term sailors. They are people who have either remained sailing in the Caribbean for years and have intimate knowledge of the islands or they are offshore sailors summering over before moving on to further adventures. These are either waiting to move west towards the Panama or have arrived from points south like Brazil and waiting in southern climes until they can move northwards in the winter.

Here is the area we have decided to focus on for the hurricane season. Although we travelled north through here in the winter we never really saw much as we were trying to get to Antigua quickly. Now we have the time to explore and delve a little more deeply into each of the islands.

We hope this area remains hurricane free this year but we have one place in mind to run to if necessary while in the immediate area. It’s located on Cariacou and lies behind a mangrove area with enough area for a number of boats. Below is an excerpt from Compass Magazine’s article written about hurricane Ivan that hit Grenada in 2004 and the section relating to Cariacou. Here is the link to the full Compass article – Compass Magazine Hurricane Ivan 2004


Being even a few miles from Ivan’s eye made a big difference, as the following accounts show. Roy Hopper of Tyrrel Bay Yacht Haulout, Carriacou, reports: “The only damage sustained by the boatyard was damage to dock piers by a steel freighter which landed here. The boats hauled out in the boatyard and the ones we secured in the mangroves were not damaged.” Cruiser Jim Hutchinson of Ambia, who was tucked into Tyrrel Bay’s mangroves, estimates that there were 50 or 60 yachts and some 30 ships in the mangroves’ first bay, and about three dozen farther in. While the shallower-draft boats who could get into the far reaches of the mangroves fared very well, yachts in the first bay were menaced by a number of dragging freighters. Another ship was reportedly aground on the northeast corner of Carriacou. From Mayreau, Mark de Silva reports: “There has been a tremendous amount of coral rubble deposited all over with ‘islands’ forming on the reefs at Grand Tarchie as well as at Clifton and Ashton.” We are also advised that Grand de Coi reef off Union Island now uncovers two to three feet. A few yachts reportedly went aground at Union Island, and a commercial vessel which attempted to shelter at Spring Bay, Bequia, was blown ashore.

For now this will be our potential refuge from inclement weather should the need arise. Later we will head south to Grenada where we will have to find another safe harbour should the need arise.

For now we will continue to enjoy the summer season in the Caribbean.

Here for your entertainment a few shots of the Caribbean taken from a cell phone camera (blah!)

Castries – Carnival

Carnival – Castries

Putting in the earplugs at Carnival- Richard and Rowena

Carnival – Castries

Sailing between St. Lucia and St. Vincent and waiting to get clobbered by wind and rain. Luckily it wasn’t too bad

The marina – Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Checking the rigging. Bird’s eye view of the solar panels that have fun our electrical system for 9 years without fail i.e. refrigeration, entertainment, lights, communications. Who says we can’t stop using fossil fuels?

Cinamon at the market. Lots of other spices as well but more rum than anything!

Zen of Sailing the Caribbean in the Hurricane Season

July 8, 2017

“If you are unhappy it’s not because of external factors. It’s nobody else’s fault or problem. It’s not because you are poor or live in a small house, or even because you are ill. It’s because you have an inner emptiness that needs to be filled with light, and only you can do that. It is every person’s responsibility to seek that light. Happiness is not a right; it’s an obligation, because without happiness you have nothing to give back to humanity”

From: Walking the Himalayas by Levison Wood quoting from an audience with the Dalai Lama

I love this quote even though we just seem to go from one hurricane watch to another. There actually haven’t been any hurricanes this season but lots of possibilities. What will happen when one of these possibilities turns into a hurricane?

At the moment we’re tied up to a dock in St. Lucia but soon scheduled for departure for points south. We took a dock space for two weeks – a luxury. We haven’t been at a dock and living onboard since the end of January. We did have a wonderful break when two friends from Edmonton rented a house with a dock but apart from that we’ve been at anchor all of the time.

We  now have hot showers, unlimited water, garbage pick up and electricity. Amazing how all these simple things that one takes for granted onshore become luxuries when living on a boat. Talk about living simply – we collect water from the rainfall when it comes or snatch a container or two from shore based spigots, we try to recycle our garbage as much as possible but that’s hard in the Caribbean. We’ve taken to putting all used plastic into a single empty 5 litre container so our plastic waste doesn’t get scattered into the wind when disposed of on shore. It’s amazing how much plastic you can stuff into a 5ltr water container. Try it sometime…

Our electricity comes from solar panels. Here in the Caribbean we would be better off with a wind generator. This is the first area we have been where the solar panels don’t keep up to consumption and we have to occasionally start-up the engine to replenish our batteries. The wind however blows constantly unlike many other areas of the world. In an Australian anchorage many years ago our wind generator never turned for 7 months! Mind you we were in a very protected spot but that’s where we realised we would be better off with solar and for 25 years of sailing we have always relied on solar.

I’m trying to get on the ‘green’ bandwagon now that the full impact of our world’s environmental  problems are well laid out in Naomi Klein’s recent book – This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Environment. For a truly depressing outlook on our challenges then this is a good read. Not only does it outline the challenge but it offers some possible solutions. I’ll leave it up to this readership to take up the challenge and at least read the book if not at least challenge your views on our economic system.

Back to sailing: the winds blow (sometimes with great force), the forecasts continue to talk about tropical waves and dry Sahara winds contributing to mid atlantic tropical storm formations, the rainy season continues to deluge the roads and ditches and fill the water tanks, boats from many nations continue to go north and south in the Caribbean and the humidity continues to rise.

We haven’t had many sailing adventures other than to sail south from Martinique to St. Lucia a few weeks back, had a cell phone stolen while in the shop for unlocking, made a tour of St. Lucia with some sailing friends, sat in volcanic hot pools for the afternoon and had a few meals out but nothing much to rave about.

In a few days time we should be heading further south as the hurricane season heats up in August and we want to be somewhere relatively safe and south of the hurricane belt. Of course we’ll get warmer weather and right now feel like I want to be in the Arctic.

For those sailing the Caribbean at this time of the year ‘be at one with NOAA’!

Dodging A Bullet

June 20, 2017

At this time of the year most of the sailboats have been put away for summer storage and people have fled north or east to their respective homes or cottages in either North America or Europe. The reason for this is it’s the hurricane season.

Most people have stored their boats in the supposed hurricane free zones further south in areas close to Grenada or Trinidad Tobago. These are supposedly south of the hurricane belt. 

We, being a little slower, are in the hurricane belt trying to make it south before most of the hurricanes occur in the months of September and October. But, it’s obviously going to be a busy hurricane season as this last storm proved.

As Connie said this morning we are always checking the weather and the last 4 days haven’t been any different. We have been watching the formation of this storm since it started just west of the Cape Verde islands. We started to worry as the storm moved westward and looked around for a good anchorage in an area where there at least 300 boats at anchor. 

Usually the hurricanes here start to curve west north-west after starting in the eastern Atlantic. This one stayed south and hadn’t up till yesterday formed into a hurricane. We felt threatened but NOAA said conditions were not conducive to the formation of a hurricane as the system moved westward. This morning it looks like things are changing.

Bret

Amazingly the system has remained south in an area that is not supposed to experience hurricanes. Technically this is not a hurricane but it looks like it may be upgraded soon. We are thankful it’s south of us and until the next weather development we will continue to nibble on our croissants and enjoy the beginning of the mango season!

Waiting for the Wind

June 18, 2017

It’s not like waiting for the wind at sea when it’s calm and one wants to move along. This is waiting for the wind predicted for very early morning on Tuesday.

We have taken refuge near the mangroves and more boats are coming in to seek better protection. It’s a crowded anchorage with lots of unattended derelict boats to cause panic!

Here’s the most recent weather prediction map. Each feather on the arrow represents 10 knots of wind. It looks like here in Martinique we can expect sustained winds of 40knts as the low passes over St. Lucia and Martinique; not a hurricane but…