Monday, September 26, 2011

The Importance of Good Meals: Samosas

When the weekend comes around, a little more time and effort is put towards the meals on Irie. For many cruisers there is no difference between the days anymore, “every day is Sunday”, but for us, after a busy week of work off or online and being too tired to cook big meals for dinner, it does make a difference when Saturday arrives. Sunday is even better! In the past, we have organized yummy brunches in our cockpit (or have been invited by friends for breakfast) and sometimes, we have the urge to put a great dinner together.

Sunday, it was time again for homemade samosas. We were a bit tired from Saturday’s events and it was yet another very hot and humid day, having us sweat constantly. Slaving in the kitchen all afternoon was not very desirable, but we had all the necessary ingredients, it was Sunday and we were looking forward to this wonderful Indian dish. We stuck to the plan and when our friends Susanne and Jan came over in the early evening with a tasty salad, we presented them and us with some really delicious samosas, the best I have ever had. What a treat! Yes, good food is important on Irie; it even warrants a few blogs a month!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Seven Sisters Waterfalls in Grenada

A highlight for most visitors to Grenada, but not part of cruise ship passengers’ itineraries or most island tour schedules, the Seven Sisters Falls have been high on our list for a while. A couple of weeks ago, we made an attempt to visit, but didn’t come further than talking some friends into joining us to then postpone the event, because of heavy rains. We had afternoon cake and coffee instead. Yesterday, under a grey sky, Mark and I bit the bullet and decided to “go for it”, no matter how the weather would turn out…

Visiting the Seven Sisters Waterfalls on your own is affordable and fairly easy to do. You take the bus to the bus station in St. George’s (# 1 from Prickly Bay and #2 from Clarkes Court Bay/ Woburn) for EC$ 2.5 and hop on bus #6 to Grand Etang/Grenville (EC$ 5 per person). Ask the driver to drop you off at the Seven Sisters (also called St. Margaret Falls) – which you will reach after a good half hour drive in the mountains - and walk the short distance to the little store in the parking lot. There, you sign in and pay EC$5 entrance fee, if somebody is present. The falls are located on private property and the fee pays to maintain the place. Grab a walking stick if needed, but don’t forget to return it afterwards. Finding a bus back to St. George’s that has empty seats is a bit challenging, but you might get lucky or creative (hitch a ride back or go to Grenville first).

Immediately after we paid, a massive rainstorm ensued, so we were soaking wet, before we even started! It kept us cool all day… We followed a road down to the start of the narrow, but pretty trail. The whole stretch to the falls is downhill, through some muddy areas, over rocks and a river. The wideness of this river depends on the amount of rainwater rushing down. After about 20 minutes hiking through the rain forest and moist, green foliage, the main waterfalls appear and are an attractive sight in a beautiful setting. It is a great spot for lunch, some contemplation while listening to nature’s sounds or a swim. If you are as lucky as we were, you have the whole place to yourself. A dip in one of the pools (there are two waterfalls at this level) is more than refreshing! It is possible to take a side trail and walk further up to the rest of the waterfall chain, but we haven’t done so (yet) and assume you need a guide. Mark and I both enjoyed the hike and the peace and didn’t even mind huffing and puffing, all the way back up (it really isn’t that bad)!

The trail was pretty wet (but "clean") right after the rainfall

Crossing the river before reaching the waterfalls

In front of one of the Seven Sisters

Massive bamboo

Avocado tree

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

American (Italian?) Home Cooking on Irie

Since we’ve been living on Irie, Mark has been craving a very special pasta sauce from his (younger) days spent with friends in the Oakland, CA area. I have heard a lot about this wonderful sauce and, based on the descriptions, wished I could have tried it. Not that my spaghetti bolognaise isn’t any good or special, but – we ALL know – Sean’s sauce is the best. To reproduce this famed pasta sauce, however, we needed the right ingredients, a few hours to spare and … the recipe!

Words and ravings turned into deeds a little while ago and Mark contacted his friend Sean to obtain his family’s scrumptious pasta sauce recipe. I was sent to Grenada’s most extensive supermarket, the IGA in Spice Island Mall, and came home with Italian sausages (expensive!), ground beef and pork (no veal available), fresh parsley (lucked out on that one), a block of Parmesan cheese (luxury!), Italian bread crumbs and tomato-based products. The other ingredients (spices, garlic and the like) already made their way to Irie as usual provisions. A visit to the fresh meat store in Whisper Cove Marina added a 4-pack of lamb merguez to the meal idea. Other than the canned tomatoes, no vegetables took part!

When you go through a bit of effort and expense to make a special dinner, it is customary to invite some friends to participate in the extravaganza. Susanne and Jan from SV Peter Pan couldn’t make it, but Rosie and Sim from SV Alianna – being avid meat eaters and food lovers – didn’t hesitate to come over. The four of us did our best to make a serious dent (and almost finish) the big pot of extraordinary pasta sauce with ten giant meatballs and nine sausages. The salad barely got touched, the fresh bread was a success, three bottles of red wine accompanied the feast and yes, we did serve pasta with the sauce!

The cook preparing his anticipated meal

Plenty of (big) meatballs...

... and sausages for four people

I'm in charge of making drinks (and baking bread, which has a tendency to collapse)

Plenty of dirty dishes afterwards!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quite the Scare

The plan: dinghy over to Mt. Hartman Bay (squeezing through the reefs) from Clarkes Court Bay to play volleyball at 3 pm in Secret Harbour Marina, stay for a couple of drinks during happy hour and return to Irie before dark.

The reality: volleyball was fun with a lot of players and four teams in total, the wind picked up while we were hanging out with new made friends having a drink or two, the situation turned crazy! The wind grew stronger and rain poured down, all the way into the bar. All the cruisers who were present congregated in a corner, shivering from the cold. Phone calls and VHF calls came in about boats dragging. People started heading back home in the midst of the storm, trying to save their sailboat.

Mark and I did not have a flashlight or handheld VHF radio with us and knew nobody in “our” bay. Alianna left that morning. We had no idea in which shape Irie was, but felt confident about her anchor gear holding. That’s why it takes us a relative long time to anchor: we make sure the anchor is set and have adequate scope out. We’d like to sleep at night, or in this case, feel comfortable enough about Irie riding out 40 knot winds with nobody on board.

The storm made the sky turn dark and “sunset” was approaching, so Mark and I bit the bullet and left the security of the marina, straight into the wind  and madness for a couple of miles. The rain hit us in the face, making the visibility extremely poor, waves kept crashing over the bow of our dinghy and us. (Sea water is so much warmer than rain water!) Our dinghy and engine did a good job (and Mark as the driver) to keep us from flipping over, while we got into the eye of everything nasty. The only thing absent was thunder and lightning. We managed to avoid the reef (where are those sticks marking the channel?) Our “exhilarating” trip back brought us through the swirling Hog Island anchorage and under the bridge, where two cruising boats drifted onto shore. Gulp! One was being pulled off by a powerful motorboat.

We rounded the corner, soaking wet and barely able to see, but we did notice our little Irie… safely at anchor and waiting for us. She was pitching wildly with the big fetch, but once on board, we set out the rest of this heavy and unpredicted weather, happy to be home. The night was long, with a few more violent squalls and a big commercial vessel (Seahorse II) dragging into part of a Clarkes Court Bay anchorage, threatening cruising boats at anchor. Many had to pick up the hook themselves to avoid collision and the scene was one of mayhem and danger. Part of the night, we had our engines on, just in case something were to happen, since we didn’t have a lot of room to spare on our lee shore. The VHF radio was active all night, but no major catastrophes occurred. Here’s to our beaten up dinghy and engine, a diligent anchoring technique and reliable anchor gear!

(Read the full story on

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Alternative Entertainment

What do you do when a planned day trip with friends to the waterfalls literally falls into the water? (How ironic) When it rained all night, making the trail super muddy and useless and the cascading water brown and murky and when it keeps drizzling during the day? When you really expected this fun trip to happen, planned a packed lunch, a “jolly” walk and a refreshing dip in one of Grenada’s most beautiful places? You - or your friends – come up with an alternative activity. 

Most of that anticipated day was still a loss until 3pm in the afternoon, when Rosie, Sim, Mark and I were invited to SV Peter Pan for a yummy cake Susanne had baked.  The rainy day turned into afternoon cake and coffee or tea (yep, it did involve alcohol somehow) and as evening entertainment, we joined up for a quiz at the Tiki Bar in Prickly Bay, where more drinks were consumed and our knowledge was tested…

The crew of SV Alianna and SV Irie enjoying cake and "afternoon tea" on SV Peter Pan

Our group of friends is thinking hard on quiz night at the Tiki Bar

Is this proof enough of Rosie's and my "useful" participation?

Mark (SV Sea Life) is checking our answers with Jan and Susanne

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hash 700 in Grenada

A lot of hype has been surrounding the 700th hash in Grenada. Rosie and I liked number 699 enough to give it another try, expecting it to be very easy, because of the anticipated crowds. We even convinced our other halves – who expected a lot of beer involvement - to join. This special hash attracted a huge amount of people amongst which the country’s prime minister and the biggest group of cruisers ever. A total of 7 buses brought all the sailors to just north of St. George’s where the event started.

After a short introduction, the hundreds of hashers took off, running, walking or strolling. We stayed towards the back this time, trying to avoid all the overtaking from last time. It was extremely busy with queues of hikers barraging the forest, climbing - and sliding - the steep hill and a quieter time heading back down. A conveniently located local rum shop had us stop for a bit. By the time Rosie, Sim, Mark and I arrived at the field for the evening entertainment, dusk set in. We were the last ones to check back in, thanks to the beer and rum inhalations at the bar.

Fate had it that I just sliced my big toe pretty badly the morning of this anticipated event

Participants with new shoes have to "break them in" by drinking beer out of them...

The hash is watched by locals whose property we pass...

... and by cows showing their annoyance of being disturbed

One of the nice views after climbing a massive hill during hash 700

A welcoming break in a rum shop close to the finish

The evening hash events take place on the "sunset" side of Grenada

Rosie enjoys a refreshing and well-deserved beer after the sweaty hike

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My First Time (Hash)

Over the last few years there has been a lot of talk about the Hash, the Hash House Harriers and hashing on VHF channel 68 in Grenada. We know a few people who “have done it”, many of them repeatedly. Rosie and I were definitely going to “do one” this season and recently we stuck to that promise. It was our first time, we were virgins, and it was Grenada’s 699th hash.

A hash is an aggressive walk or run through forests, over hills, through rivers and along private property. This activity has been around for many years and in many countries worldwide. It is very popular in Grenada and a lot of cruisers and locals participate. It can get very muddy and it definitely is a very sweaty activity! On the day Rosie and I “lost our virginity”, we were part of a big group hiking through the bush, crossing rivers, getting startled by mewing cows and appreciating the scenery. We had to follow a paper trail to stay on track and the hike ended with a steep, shady hill, followed by a tremendously steep road.

After a few slippery falls, two hours of sweating, many pictures, lots of beautiful landscape scenes and arriving amongst the last people in, we were rewarded with refreshing ice cream, cheap local food and a certificate of “loss of virginity”. Our friend Susan was waiting for us. Just like all the grandmas, mothers with babies, teenagers and dogs, she had passed us on the trail, pretty early on. Sure, we took our time, took our pictures and didn’t take it as seriously as most other participants, but… we did have fun! (And, “they” are still talking about those two funny, slow, picture-taking and sandal-wearing women of hash 699!)

Ready to hash!

The Hash Master gives instructions to the Virgins

Follow the mass...

...or follow the paper trail?

The trail passes private properties

Reminder of the exotic surroundings

Not a virgin anymore!