Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oil Down

Saturday we went to an Oil Down. Oil Down is the national dish of Grenada. Traditionally made by the men over an open fire (kind of like men in the states like to barbeque) an oil down is a pot full of vegetables, meat and spices. The key ingredients in oil down are breadfruit, meat (chicken, pork or fish), coconut, callaloo (similar to spinach), tumeric and dumplings but you can add other vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, green bananas and green papaya.

Jim got right in there and helped Cutty peel and cut up the breadfruit. Cutty is a taxi driver and gives tours around the island. He arranged the oil down at a rum shack (bar) in his neighborhood and invited the yachties to come and learn how to make oil down while we hung out with him and his friends.

More cruisers get in on the act under the close supervision of an expert.

The ladies grated the coconut and tumeric.

Everything is layered into the pot, starting with the breadfruit and meat and ending with the callaloo.

Add a little local pepper sauce for flavor.

Water is poured over the grated coconut and tumeric and then it is squeezed to create milk.

Pour the coconut milk over the top, cover and let it simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.

This is Andy, our supervising chef for the day. Ruby and her grandson are in the background. All the men were eager to share their ideas and I'm sure there are friendly rivalries and competion among the chefs. Andy told me that they make oil down "all de time" during breadfruit season. The neighborhood gathers together to share a pot along with some rum, beer and conversation just like we'd gather together our friends and family for a backyard barbeque. It was great!

Cutty serving up the Oil Down.

This was a great experience, something you don't get to do on your typical vacation to the islands. The people were warm and friendly, as eager to meet us as we were them. I chatted with Ruby and her daughter who let me play with her 10 week old baby. Cutty took us for a walk around the area and pointed out the various plants growing in the lush countryside. Later Jim got an education in how to buy rum in a bar by 2 of the guys. Apparently only the tourists buy a rum and coke. Locals purchase a quantity of rum that is then poured into a smaller bottle, then mix it with coke or water. It's much more cost effective this way and you mix it the way you like it. As we were leaving the guys were giving Jim their phone numbers and telling him to call if he needed anything! We had a wonderful time!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ladies Day

Wednesday was Ladies Day.
One of the cruisers set up a day of touring that was just for the ladies. It was a nice opportunity to meet women and enjoy each others' company. Our first stop was an herb garden, a 2 acre site dedicated to growing local herbs. Our guide explained all the uses as she walked us through the garden. "Boil this one and make a tea. It's good for headaches, colds, fever, cramps. Make a poultice with this. It cures rashes and skin irritations."

This woman is scrapping the bark off of cinnamon trees. As the pieces of bark dry, they curl up forming the cinnamon sticks you buy in the stores.

Our next stop was a t-shirt factory where you can purchase t-shirts at very reasonable prices. You pick the size, color and design you want and they print it up while you wait. I just roamed around and watched the other women shop. Jim and I don't need more t-shirts! There's no more room on this little boat!

Lunch was at the Aquarium Restaurant, a lovely restaurant on a beautiful stretch of beach. Most of the women were cruisers from the States or Canada who, like me have been cruising for a few years, primarily in the Caribbean. Because we've had requests for more info on the people we meet, I thought I'd share a couple of stories. Judy (1st on left) on the S/V Bodacious is from New Zealand. She and her husband Barry did their first circumnavigation a few years back. Upon returning to New Zealand they sold their boat thinking they were through. They soon realized their mistake and recently purchased a boat here in Grenada. They're headed for the Bahamas, United States and Europe. Tracy (3rd from the right) on the S/V Genesis has been crewing on boats in the states for 20 years. She and her husband have their own boat now and are offering charters in the Grenadines. Another Judy (2nd from the right) on S/V Veleda has been cruising for over 10 years spending several years in Europe. The stories are varied and interesting. Most of these women cannot picture themselves ever living on land again.

After lunch there was time for swimming and snorkling. These are shots of the beach taken from the Aquarium Restaurant.

I want to go back, this time with Jim so we can enjoy this beautiful spot together.

As an after note, we recieved many favorable comments both via e-mail and on our blog regarding our 2 year anniversary update. Thank you all. We're glad you enjoyed it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Day in the Life

Here's one of the views across the anchorage in Prickly Bay. We've been looking at this a lot lately because we've been stuck on the boat with a broken outboard. On the way back to Merengue with a dinghy full of groceries the spring that retracts the pull-start broke.
With no parts available on the island for a 18 year old Johnson we had no choice but to order the parts on-line and have them shipped from the states. What did people do before the internet? Nine days and $122 later we had our $19 part. The parts (plus a few spares in case anything went flying overboard during installation) were $37. The other $85 went to priority shipping and fees to have it cleared through customs. Ouch! Paradise doesn't come cheap.

We propped the outboard up in the cockpit and plugged the cockpit drains. You know if you drop a screw it will automatically head for the drain! Jim had us up and running again in a few hours. We are now free to come and go as we please! Thanks to Scott and Sue on Enee Marie for taking us in to Happy Hour so we could talk to someone besides each other and for taking us to shore for groceries and to get our boat part. Also to Jacumba for stopping by to see if we needed anything and coming to play Dominoes with us on Sunday. Barry on Bodacious gave us a tow when he saw us paddling from shore and offered to loan us an outboard. Everyone was looking out for us and we appreciate it.

OK, this has nothing to do with engine repair but how funny is this cat? Bailey loves when you flip her over on her back and rub her belly. She becomes Jello-kitty!

The hurricane season has become very active. There have been 10 named storms so far this year, several reaching hurricane strength. We watch the weather systems carefully as they roll off of Africa. This video shows graphics of the storms currently in the Atlantic and Caribbean. The reason we chose to spend the season in Grenada is that the island lies at 12 degrees north, just south of the hurricane zone. But we have to stay alert to the weather. Occassionally hurricanes do veer this far south, as Ivan did in 2004. It was the first hurricane in almost 50 years to hit Grenada. Lets hope it's the last!

One last funny story. We went to the vegetable market in St. Georges again on Wednesday and one of the ladies was trying hard to get Jim to buy from her. When we went to leave she called out to Jim, "Hey Baby. You do me a favor. When you get home you put those legs on ice for me, OK Baby." Jim says he needs something from the market today. Hmmmmmm.....

Monday, September 1, 2008

Two Years and More Than 5,000 Miles!

It's been 2 Years!
On September 2, 2006 we left Milwaukee, Wisconsin U.S.A. for the adventure of a lifetime!
We've traveled 5,667 miles (4925 N.M.).
Our mooring on Lake Michigan is 2,646 miles (2,299 N.M.) from here as the crow flies.
We have dropped our anchor off of 60 islands including those in the Great Lakes and Intercoastal Waterway.
We've visited 19 countries.
One conversation that often comes up with cruisers is how can we describe this lifestyle to people who aren't familiar with it? We all say the same thing; Everyone at home thinks we're on vacation. Trust me, this is not a vacation. I don't know what kind of vacations you take but when we went on vacation we stayed at nice resorts with all the ammenities, we used all the hot water we wanted, rented a car to get around in and didn't worry too much about how much money we spent. We were on vacation!
Now we live aboard a small sailboat that has the interior space of a large walk-in closet (not that small but close). We capture rainwater when possible and conserve every drop. We travel by dinghy or by walking, sometimes we ride a bus. We watch our energy use very carefully and charge our batteries by solar energy. When we need fuel, water, groceries, boat equipment, garbage disposal or the laundry done it involves a trip ashore in the dinghy. Just going to the grocery store here in Grenada takes us about 3 hours roundtrip. Lloyd on the catamaran "Puddle Jumper' has a T-shirt that says "I used to do 3 things in a day. Now it takes me 3 days to do 1 thing." That about sums up the pace of things. But then, most of the time we don't mind it. After all, we did choose a method of travel that only takes us places at about 5 m.p.h. so we can't be in too great a hurry!
This lifestyle does afford us the opportunity to see a small part of the world up close. We can spend more time, maybe get to know a few of the people who live there. We can explore in depth. We have time for simple things.
Sailing gives you periods of great exhiliration, sometimes anxiety and yes, even boredom. After 2 years I still don't think I can adequately describe it. Perhaps that's because it's a little different for everyone. All I know for sure is we're not ready to quit. So as we begin year 3, here are a few pictures from the first 2 years.
Sailing in the Bahamas.

Sailing to Vieques, Puerto Rico.
There have been too many beautiful anchorages to show them all to you again. Here are just a few.
An anchorage across the Hudson River looking at the Island of Manhatten.

Isle de Muertes, Puerto Rico.

Mayreau, Grenadines
Allan's Cay, Bahamas.
The Intercoastal Waterway, North Carolina.

Deshaies, Gaudaloupe.

Les Pitons, St. Lucia.

The beaches have been incredible. We never tire of their beauty.
Les Saintes.
Saltwhistle Bay, Mayreau.
Key Biscayne, Florida.

Flamenco Beach, Culebra.

Sun Bay, Vieques.
As you know from following our trip, waiting for good weather is always a priority. Here's a few shots of us dealing with the elements.
Cold and rainy on the Erie Canal.

Squall approaching Allan's Cay in the Bahamas.

Water spout south of Vieques, Puerto Rico.

Waiting for the rain in Saltwhistle Bay, Grenadines.

Hiking has been one of our favorite activities on many of the islands we've visited.
Taino Indian cave in the Dominican Republic.

Warderick Wells, Bahamas.

A dirty hash in Grenada!
The rainforest in Dominica.
The crews of Merengue, Sea Lion and Bellagio in Dominica.

Hiking in the rainforest on Saba.

We've been fortunate to have good friends come to visit along the way. Thank you Muff, Reed, Marcia and Mike. It means alot to us!
Jim, Reed and Muff celebrating Jim's birthday with rum punch in the pool.
Marcia and Wendy.

Jim, Wendy, Mike and Marcia at a beach bar in St. Martin.

Boat Maintenance is never ending! We hauled Merengue out of the water for a week in St. Martin to give her new bottom paint as well as tackle other projects.

Along the way we've had the opportunity to see wildlife up close.

The best part of cruising is the people. We've made many great friends. Sorry we don't have pictures of all of you, but you know who you are!

Jim, Wendy and Renee (Jacumba) in the D.R.

Renee and Wendy on board Jacumba.

Frank (Warm Rain) and Jim in Nassau, Bahamas.

Renee & Michael (Jacumba), Joe & Becky (Half Moon), Kristen & Hans (Whisper) with Jim and Wendy.

Manon & Gervais (Le Bete)

With our buddies Carol & Pat (Songbird)

Derek & Kathy (Idyll Island) help Wendy celebrate her birthday in St. Lucia.
Marie France and Gilles (Phoenix III)

Carmelle (Taima), Kristen (Whisper) and Manon (Le Bete).

Jim and Yvon (Taima)

Celebrating with Hans.
Gilles, Randy, Gervais and Pat.

Lynn, Wendy, Marie France and Manon.

Val & Lloyd (Puddle Jumper)
Randy & Lynn (High States), J&W, Kathy & Kerry (Bellagio)


We've been to Carnivals in Saint Maarten and Grenada. They were both unique, fun and overflowing with beautiful women. You've seen the photos but we couldn't resist showing you a few again. It never gets boring!

We're always asked how Bailey likes living on a boat. For a cat that spent her first 9 years on land she does really well. She doesn't like the sound of the diesel engine but then neither do we!

I ask you, does she look stressed?

Thanks to our family and friends who supported us in our dream even though it meant we wouldn't get to see each other as often as we'd like. Also thanks to the friends we've made along the way who have always been there for us and who have made the journey so memorable.
Lastly, thanks to the readers of this blog, some of whom we haven't met in person but who have introduced themselves through their comments. We love hearing from all of you.