Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grenada to the Grenadines

Grenada to the Grenadines is some of the best sailing in the Caribbean! From Carriacou, Grenada's sister island to the north, to Bequia at the north end of the Grenadines chain you are making short hops from island to island, from one beautiful anchorage to another beautiful anchorage. This is our 4th time through this chain so we feel like we know it fairly well. One spot where we had never anchored was Sandy Cay, a small spit of an island off of Carriacou. We anchored at the west end of the island and dropped back to where we were only about 10 yards from the reef. The water is an amazing turquoise color and absolutely crystal clear! Great snorkeling right from our boat!

Sunrise the next morning.

This is Sandy Cay, the long stretch of white sand in the foreground. In the background is Union Island.

Looking out at Merengue and others at anchor off of Sandy Cay. The island of Carriacou is across the channel.

Sandy Cay is a narrow strip of sand about 10 feet at the highest point. We loved it there and ended up spending 2 days just walking the beach, snorkeling the reef and relaxing. Then it was over to Union Island to clear customs before heading to the Tobago Cays for some more snorkeling, this time with the turtles that live there. From there we headed to Bequia on a perfect day, beam-reach sailing all the way!

We love Bequia and we've shown you pictures from there before. One of my favorite things is the picturesque shoreline. The east shore of the bay is lined with hotels, restaurants and shops. I love the walkway that borders the water so you can walk into town to do your shopping right along the waters edge.

We usually dock the dinghy near the Gingerbread hotel. This is where we go to get baked goods and ice. To the left is the ice cream shop. Rum raisin, banana or maybe passion fruit or lime sorbet. How am I supposed to decide!

There are lots of places to sit in the shade and watch the activity in the harbor. Last weekend we got together for a game of dominoes with Will & Annie (S/V Como No) and Roland & Kathleen (S/V M'Lady Kathleen).

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. We've been invited to join friends for dinner but we are anxious to head north so we are leaving for St. Lucia at dawn. We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. We know we have much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cruising: Boat Problems in Exotic Locations

Sometimes it's hard to explain to people how we spend our time. We told you about the boat projects we work on, how a trip to the grocery store takes us 3 hours round trip, etc, etc. Everything takes longer than it does on land. For the most part we're OK with that. We like the laid-back pace of the Caribbean. But sometimes you can't blame problems on the laid-back pace. It's just poor customer service! We've been dealing with one example of that for almost a month.

This is a picture of one of the 2 towing rings on the underside of our dinghy. Our dinghy is a year old and the tow rings are badly rusted. In mid-October we discovered that AB, the manufacturer of our dinghy had issued a recall because a number of dinghies had mistakenly been made with tow rings that were not stainless steel. We went in to Budget Marine here in Grenada to inquire about having the tow rings replaced under warranty. The manager of Budget Marine was not in the store and we were told we needed to speak to him. Could we come back tomorrow? Sure, no problem. We came back Saturday morning only to be told the manager wouldn't be in until Tuesday (Monday's a holiday mon) could we come back then. We went back on Tuesday and were told the manager wouldn't be in until Friday. What! No one else was in charge and could help us even though the other workers were aware of the recall. It took us almost two weeks to get an answer from Budget Marine on the repair. Then the manager informed us that he didn't have the parts in stock and it would take a week to get them shipped in. On Wednesday of last week we were told the parts were in and they just needed to clear them. When Jim asked when they could do the repair he was told "You'll have to speak with the manager. He'll be in Friday." On Friday the manager said the repair could be done on Tuesday. Just bring the dinghy to the boatyard next door by 8:00 a.m. Jim took the dinghy in yesterday and the boatyard manager said he still hadn't received the parts from Budget. Back over to Budget where Jim was told they still hadn't cleared the parts. After a couple of hours the boatyard manager suggested Jim not wait around and they just try again this morning. So now Jim is headed back there. We checked late yesterday and the parts were delivered so hopefully all will be fixed today. None of this is AB's fault. Yes, they installed the wrong rings but they are taking responsibility and fixing the problem. Budget is facilitating the warranty repair but in a very poor manner. We should not have had to make numerous trips to get an answer. If the manager chooses to never be in his store the least he could do is put someone else in charge. Sorry for the soapbox but I spent a lot of years in retail management and have trained thousands of sales associates. This is not a laid-back Caribbean approach, it's just bad business!

If all goes well today (can you tell I'm still not convinced) we are ready to head out to start year 4 of cruising. Our plan is to head north to the Grenadines and spend some time in the Tobago Cays. Then we'll island hop our way north to Antigua. Mid-January we'll head to St. Martin where we'll be meeting family and friends. So we're looking forward to another great year. Hope you'll travel along with us.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Jim!

There are few things in life that Jim dislikes more than birthdays. Although better than the alternative, he dislikes getting older. So we spent the day doing several of the things he does like. We sat on a beach and drank rum punch.

Grand Anse Beach is beautiful and, with no cruise ships in port, quiet and peaceful.
The only interruption was Jim telling me how he supposed he'd have to start wearing black socks with his sandals (picture withheld by request) and why is this one eyebrow hair 3 inches long? As you can imagine, I'm the one who needed a lot of rum! Actually we spent a great day at the beach and then went out for a jerk chicken and callaloo pizza at De Big Fish Restaurant.

Last weekend we attended the Hindu Festival of Lights. The Festival of Lights is a celebration of the light over dark, of good over evil.

The festival turned out to be a program of dancing, music and food in an auditorium. My understanding is that in other parts of the world it is a huge celebration that takes you through neighborhoods where the homes are decorated with lights and people pass out small gifts and food. We enjoyed watching the dancers, seeing everyone dressed in their beautiful traditional clothing and sampling the vegetarian cuisine.

Back on the boat the next day and we are making pizza. We put Bailey out in the cockpit in the shade because it was so hot inside the boat. She spent the whole time staring in through the screen. "Daytime is naptime. Let me in!"

Sunday, November 1, 2009

We recently received an email from a couple who have set up a website called They had seen my article in Blue Water Sailing and were interested in having us contribute to a section on their website called "A Teachable Moment". Their email read, "I'm sure your experiences would inspire hope for those who have heard you need a 40 foot boat to sail from Lake Michigan to the Caribbean." provides free web based lessons and tools to new sailors and those hoping to become sailors. I hope you'll check out the website and our article on sail reefing. Fair winds!