Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Magazine Article

Just to let everyone know. Wendy's new article, The Cruising Life 10 Things They Don't Tell You, is now published in Blue Water Sailing. Congratulations!
Jim and Bailey

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas in Paradise

We had a lovely Christmas on this beautiful island. I was asked recently if I missed snow at Christmas? I'm not sure if Jim and I have ever missed snow! But having grown up in the midwest, I do associate snow with Christmas. Also the smell of a Christmas tree, baking cookies with my friend Marcia, singing "Sisters" from the movie White Christmas with my sister Connie, wrapping lots of presents and then spending time with family and friends. But even without that, this was a good Christmas spent with some very special people we've come to think of as our cruising family.

There were 12 of us together for a potluck dinner. We decided there wasn't a boat big enough for all of us so we gathered at the Prickly Bay marina. As usual, it was a feast! You've seen our friends before, here they are again!


Manon (Le Bete) and Randy & Lynn (High States)

Kathy & Kerry (Bellagio)

Gervais (Le Bete), Marie France & Gilles (Phoenix III) and Yvon (Taima)

Marie France and Gervais. The photographer was busy eating so Wendy had to step in. I goofed and cut Tom (Spiritus) out of the picture. Sorry!

Jim trying to keep all of Gilles baked ham for himself!

While the snow blew back home we celebrated under blue skies with a temperature in the mid 80's. Later, back at the boat it was time for a swim under a star-filled sky. No, we don't miss the snow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from Grenada

Once again, we've decorated Merengue for the holidays. This year we've added 12 volt LED Christmas lights which we've strung around the cockpit. It's quite pretty and festive when we're sitting on deck or when viewed from our neighbors boats.
We began our celebrating by attending a Christmas Concert at a church in Grenville. Valerie Daniel, an opera singer from Grenada puts on a concert every year. It was a mix of classical music and Christmas carols. As we sat in the church, looking out through the windows to the view of palm trees and ocean, I couldn't help but think how lucky we are to be doing what we're doing. This is a beautiful place. We have a very good life.

Here we are before the concert with a couple of Kiwi's, New Zealanders Judy and Barry from S/V Bodacious.

A smiling face of Grenada and our usher for the evening.

The inside of St. Andrew the Apostle church. The priest said something in his blessing that was so perfect. "When words fail us, music takes over."

Several videos of the concert appeared on youtube.com. One is of Cecil Bartholomew, an incredible guitar player. The second is of Aixa Miguen, a 23 year old violinist from Cuba. You can hear them via the links below:

http://video.aol.com/video-detail/grenada-cecil-bartholomew-on-guitar/1072509672

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cj2X8Lk7254

We'll leave you with this picture of Bailey. As we get ready to celebrate the holiday, we'd like to wish all our family and friends a very Merry Christmas.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Trip to the U.S. Consulate

We've been hearing from more and more people who enjoy reading our blog. Thank you for your comments. We love hearing from you. We know that many of you follow our blog for the sailing and you've probably been wondering when we'll get around to that again. We will, we promise! We're not ready to settle down in just one harbor as of yet! If you had told me that we would be in Grenada through New Years I would have said you're crazy but here we are!
There have been several reasons for the delay. First it was the haul-out to repair the cutlass bearing then it was friends arriving from Trinidad. The latest is the renewal of our U.S. Passports. Our passports expire in 2009 and we had researched how and where we could do the renewal. The U.S. Department of State website listed Trinidad, Barbados and Puerto Rico as the locations in the Caribbean where we could do this. There is a consulate in Grenada but it isn't listed as a site for passport renewal. Several cruisers also told us that they had inquired about renewals but had been told not in Grenada. Then last weekend as I'm doing laundry at the marina in preparation for leaving another cruiser happens to mention that they just had their passports renewed through the consulate. "Quick and easy, only took about 2 weeks." !!%#**!!!What!!! You mean the website is wrong? We've been here for 5 months and could have taken care of this! So Monday morning we called to inquire about the renewal and were given an appointment for Wednesday. With forms and photos in hand we headed off to the consulate. A trip through the metal detector and a search of our backpack (no cameras or cell phones allowed in the consulate) and we were in. The staff was very helpful and we should have our new passports in 2-3 weeks. We are so glad we can have this taken care of here. But still frustrated that we didn't learn about it sooner. We thought we did our research. We thought the website would be accurate. But, I also realize that part of our impatience is a habit or character trait learned from living in the states. We've learned to live slower, take things in stride, just be limin'. But every now and then we regress. 3 more weeks in Grenada is certainly not a bad thing! We love it here. Christmas will now be spent in the company of good friends, another bonus.
So yes, you sailors out there will get to see us sailing soon. When we leave Grenada in January we'll head north through the Windward and Leeward islands going no further than St. Martin and returning to Grenada for next hurricane season. At least that's the plan for now! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hey, Hey, the Gang's All Here!

Friends keep arriving in Grenada! It's wonderful!
First Kerry & Kathy on "Bellagio" arrived from Trinidad. They said it was a rough crossing with confused seas and a broken alternator belt. Changing the belt while underway is a sure recipe for sea sickness. But they arrived safely and we're glad they're here! I few days after they arrived, I arranged for a taxi to take 11 of us to the Aquarium Restaurant on Magazine Beach for the afternoon. I had been there with a Ladies Day tour last summer but I wanted to go back with Jim. I knew he would love it.
This is the beach in front of the restaurant. After lunch we relaxed in the sun, walked the beach and snorkled. We should do this more often!

Enjoying the day with us, crew from Half Moon, Bellagio, High States, Enee Marie and Primrose.

On Thursday, December 11th our friends who we affectionately call our "French Connection" arrived from Trinidad. All three boats, Phoenix III, Taima and Le Bete hail from Montreal. Even though they had been up since 2 a.m. they still wanted to meet for pizza. It was Manon's birthday and a celebration was in order. Thanks to Becky (Half Moon) for getting these pictures.

Here's the birthday girl opening her presents.

Manon lives life to the fullest everyday! She enjoys every moment!
A good lesson for us all.
I'm glad we waited in Grenada for our friends to arrive. Phoenix III and Taima plan on heading west so we didn't know when we would get to see them again. I've said it before, I'll say it again. The people are the best part of cruising.
I just realized that I never mentioned the early Christmas present we bought ourselves. We have a new dinghy to go with the new outboard! It's small, only 8.5 ft but big enough to carry both of us with lots of groceries or one of us with 5 jerry cans of water. We would have liked the 9 ft model but again, in the islands you buy what's available. She looks like a little sports model so we call her our Miata. I can't believe how nice it is to have a new dinghy and dry feet! We even managed to sell our old engine and fuel tank for a few bucks. The dinghy was gifted to a local man who does things like wax boats and polish brightwork. It will give him more mobility which will hopefully mean more work for him. It worked out well for everyone.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Craft Fair

Early morning and Bailey wakes us up. That either means my food bowl is empty or wake up and give me some attention. Luckily, we can just reach up over our head and open the screen in the hatch so she can jump out and explore on deck. But this morning she just kept staring in at us. Did you know you can't sleep when someone (or some cat) is staring at you!
Saturday was the Christmas Craft Fair at the True Blue Bay Resort just one bay over from where we are. We walked over in the morning and browsed through the clothing, jewelry, decorative items and baked goods that were on display. We saw all kinds of things we'd like to buy if we were still living in a house. It's easy to resist when you live on a boat. You just don't need more stuff.
Scott and Sue (Eene Marie) had a booth at the fair. Sue was selling cards and calendars that feature her photography and Scott was selling his book "The Why Book of Sailing". Hey Christmas shoppers, Scott's book is available on www.Amazon.com.

Lunch with Peter and Eileen (Appleseeds). We first met Peter and Eileen in Bimini, Bahamas back in March 2007 and just recently met up again here in Grenada.


Music while we dine. The band played a medley of Christmas carols with an island beat. People were actually dancing to Silent Night, O Holy Night and more. Only in the islands!
Check out the sound on the video below.

video


Back on Merengue and Bailey supervises while Jim peels a breadfruit. We're having one of Jim's great curry dishes for dinner! Can't wait.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Haul Out

Finally, after 2 weeks of waiting, our day in the boatyard had arrived. We were scheduled to haul-out at 8:00 a.m. for what would hopefully be a quick installation of a new cutlass bearing. Here we are coming into the sling.
(photo courtesy of Sue Budde S/V Eene Marie)
I always find this a nerve-racking experience. Boats aren't supposed to float in the air!

You can see the cutlass bearing working it's way out along the shaft. Luckily, the zinc kept it from coming out all the way. Hard to believe I polished that prop in St. Martin 8 months ago.

The repair was done quickly, no problems. They took off the prop and zinc, grabbed the cutlass bearing with a pipe wrench and pulled it out. The new one went in easily. The whole process only took about 90 minutes from lift to repair to splash. One of the men told Jim "You got very lucky today." Can't argue with that! With our repair finished we'll be looking at leaving Grenada in the next week.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the U.S.A. and we decided to celebrate with a big cruiser pot-luck dinner. The Prickly Bay Marina let us use their facility. About 40 people showed up and the assortment of food was incredible! It's amazing what people can make in small galleys. We even had a turkey!


Sharing some fun with Jane (Cheetah II).

When you can't be home with family, it's nice to have our extended cruising family to celebrate with. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

We thought it would never stop raining! It was starting to feel like there might be biblical implications! Good thing we live on a boat. What was happening here? It started on a Friday night with a torrential downpour and continued off and on (mostly on) for the next 4 days.

The good thing about a heavy rain is that we can catch a lot of rainwater to fill our water tank and jerry cans. It comes streaming off the bimini where we catch it in buckets and then transfer it to our jerry cans. We could hardly keep up as they were filling up fast! It also runs down our foredeck to the intake for the water tank. Leave the cap off and create a barricade with a clean towel and the tanks fill quite nicely. It sure beats having to lug the jerry cans from the marina. And it's free!

On Wednesday we got a break from the rain and it was fun watching the dinghies racing across the harbor. The dinghy docks were jammed full! I think there was more than just a little cabin fever going on! The break was short lived. The rain returned again on Thursday.
The weekend brought great weather again. Our friends Scott and Sue invited us out for a day sail aboard their 40 ft. Endeavor "Eene Marie." Joe and Becky (Half Moon) came along. It was a beautiful day with about 10 knots of wind and calm seas.

Jim and Joe do a little supervising while Scott pulls up the anchor. Without a windless, it's a tough job.


Scott raises the main.

Wendy trims a sheet.

Becky, Sue and Wendy.

Sailor Sue's telling a story.

Scott watches while Jim takes a turn at the wheel.

Back at anchor in Prickly Bay. Grab a drink and your noodle, it's time for a swim. Lynn and Randy (High States) joined us for a dip. It was a great day doing what we like best, sailing and hanging out with friends.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jimmy's Birthday, Blue Water Sailing Magazine, etc...

An apology to our regular readers for not getting any updates out to you recently. We know it has been awhile so here's what we've been up to for the last 10 days or so.
November 5th was Jim's birthday. What do you get a man who lives on a small boat? Well for Jim it's Rum. Jim really enjoys aged rum that is sipped like you would a fine cognac. Here he is with his present, a bottle of 15 year old El Dorado Rum and a box of rum chocolates. Both turned out to be excellent!
For Jim's birthday, we decided to do one of his favorite things, spend the day on the beach. We headed to Grand Anse Beach where we rented beach chairs, drank cold beer and swam in the ocean. When we first arrived the beach was fairly busy as there were two cruise ships in port. But shortly after we arrived the water taxis appeared to whisk the tourists away to the ship and the beach became quiet and peaceful again.

Here's the birthday-boy. St. George's and the cruise ships are in the background.


See how lovely and quiet it is when the tourists go home.

That evening we headed over to the Tiki Bar to meet some friends and have pizza. Then it was over to Half Moon where Becky surprised Jim with a birthday cake.

Jim and Joe enjoying cake, brandy and conversation.

Joe and Becky and Randy and Lynn on High States arrived in Grenada on November 1st. They, along with lots of other friends chose Trinidad for the hurricane season. Boats are starting to move around again as the threat of hurricanes in the southern Caribbean comes to an end.

We had planned on leaving Grenada about now but discovered a problem that will keep us here a few more weeks. While Jim was scrubbing the marine growth off of our prop he noticed that the cutlass bearing is working it's way out. Unfortunately, this means hauling Merengue out of the water to replace the bearing. Hopefully it will be accomplished quickly. The plan is to lift Merengue, do the repair while she is hanging in the sling and have her back in the water in about an hour. But the boatyard is booked solid for the next two weeks and can't get to us until the 26th. So we get to enjoy Grenada for a little longer.

I had some good news recently. I submitted an article to Blue Water Sailing Magazine several months ago and they are interested in publishing it. I just learned that it has been scheduled for the January 2009 issue. So get that subscription now or rush out to the newsstand. Hope you enjoy it!

We've received some interesting feedback on our blog. We were surprised and pleased to receive a comment last week from France. Apparently there are lots of readers out there. It got us thinking about beginning our 3rd year of cruising and the updates to this site. What would you like to read about? What pictures would you like to see? We'd like to hear from you.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Yesterday was Halloween but the tricks had been going on for weeks! Our 18 year old outboard engine has been dying a slow death. It started with bad fuel. We purchased gas at the Prickly Bay Marina and immediately started to have problems. We found out later that the marina ran out of fuel shortly after we purchased ours. Apparently we got the dregs, the sludge at the bottom of the barrel. Jim filtered the fuel several times, cleaned the hoses, filters, fuel pump and carburetor, changed spark plugs, etc. We can't keep the engine running. Now it seems as though it might be electrical. Given the age of the engine, it just isn't worth putting money in to it. Plus you can't buy parts for an 18 yr old engine anywhere in the Caribbean. So here's where the treat part comes in! We have a new outboard! We're sure there have been bets placed by our friends on how long it would take us to break down and buy a new one. (Jacumba, Whisper - any winners?) We don't spend large amounts of money easily! We are now the owners of a new Mercury 5 HP. Contain your excitement! We debated for days, wanting to buy more horse-power but not liking the extra weight that comes with it. We finally decided to give up speed and go with a lighter motor. When we're on a passage we put the outboard up on the stern rail. One of us stands in the dinghy, which is more than 5 ft below the rail and usually rocking, and lifts the 45 lb. engine up to the other person who is standing in the cockpit waiting to heft it the last few feet to the rail. Larger engines weigh 60 lbs and more. We are firm believers in keeping things simple and easy. So we won't be fast but then why do we need to be? The one thing we have is time. Now we are shopping for a dinghy. We are keeping our old one afloat but who knows for how much longer. It's interesting shopping in the Caribbean. Your choices are very limited. Only 2 brands of engines were available and not in the horsepower we wanted. The same seems to be true with dinghies. The chandleries stock very few sizes so you either have to compromise or wait until you visit another island. So my guess is that we'll hem and haw for awhile longer.
Last night was an example of a typical evening with cruisers. It started with us meeting Peter on "Appleseeds" for happy hour at the Tiki Bar. We first met Peter and Eileen in March of 2007 in Bimini, Bahamas and haven't seen them since we were in Nassau. Peter just arrived back in Grenada from Vancouver and is getting Appleseeds ready to launch this week. Happy Hour evolved into dinner at Martin's Marina where we hooked up with some friends of Peter's and then their friends, some of our friends, and so on and so on..... There ended up being 10 of us at dinner and we had a really great time. Cruiser get-togethers are impromptu and relaxed. One of the women we met was raised in Oshkosh, WI, just 60 miles from our hometown. Small world!
We hear that lots of boats left Trinidad this morning bound for Grenada, many of our friends among them. We're looking forward to seeing them all!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dominoes and Dirty Dancing?!?!

It's been a busy, fun-filled week! It's great having Whisper, Jacumba and Merengue back together. We've been sailing, gone for happy hour and pizza, done some island exploring and had a great party on Jacumba.
The other day we decided to go to one of the waterfalls on the island. The most economical way of traveling is by bus and the bus system on Grenada is great. We headed across the island to the Mt. Carmel Falls for a hike and a swim. The hike turned out to be a short one, only about 10 minutes from the road. But the waterfall was beautiful.
Mike and Hans getting a water massage!



Kristen provides an action shot!


Hans, Kristen and Mike.

Next another bus ride to Grenville where we had lunch and then a tour of one of the Nutmeg factories. Grenada is known as the Spice Island and was once the largest producer of nutmeg in the world. But 4 years ago Hurricane Ivan changed all that when it destroyed many of the nutmeg trees on the island. Production is only at 10% of what it used to be and will take many more years to be at the previous level.


Kristen snapped this picture of nutmeg drying in the factory. There are row after row of these muti-level racks filled with nutmeg. Each day someone rakes the nutmeg to assure that it all drys perfectly. The entire process is still very labor intensive which gives you an appreciation for what goes into bringing the consumer these wonderful spices.
The bus ride back across the island was a scary one! We are used to the buses in town with drivers that don't scare the pants off of you! Apparently the bus drivers on the longer routes across the island are in a bigger hurry. After all, more trips mean more paying customers. We all held on and occasionally closed our eyes as he sped around turns on the hilly, twisting road. The cost for all that excitement was only about $3.25 U.S. per person one-way.

Next day, another session of Mexican Train Dominoes. Jacumba was planning to depart and we thought we'd get one more game in. Besides, we had a little surprise planned for the loser! Renee was talking trash the day before, threatening the crew of Merengue with a big loss. So it was pure justice that she lost BIG and became the first recipient of our traveling loser trophy, a Domino Dunce hat.

The hat was originally a drogue for a life ring that we picked up at a swap meet. After a few decorations it became the perfect dunce hat, complete with a vent at the top to let out the steam of the wearer!

The loser must wear the hat during our next match until they can pass it on to the next loser. Although it looks good on Renee, don't you think? Perhaps she should be allowed to keep it. We probably won't get to play again for a few months so she has a lot of time to savor her trophy!

Thursday night was a farewell dinner on Jacumba with Merengue, Whisper and Fine Line. Renee and Mike left Friday for St. Martin where Jacumba will be for sale with a broker. After a great meal we all took turns shaking an ice cream maker that Whisper has on board. It was pretty funny watching every one's technique as we all took turns shaking. Renee took pictures of all the action. For a complete look at the fun visit http://www.jacumbaatsea.blogspot.com/.



While Jim was shaking the ice cream, the music switched to the song "I Like Big Butts" so I felt compelled to shake my butt. Looks like we got caught doing a little dirty dancing!

Jacumba pulled out on Friday and we were very sad to see them go. We'll miss them until we catch up again in St. Martin a few months from now. Stay tuned for the next big loser in the on-going domino challenge!