Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ready to Go, but…

On Friday, October 22nd, Mark and I finished the last errands before we could really and permanently leave Grenada. The outboard engine was fixed and essential parts (which the Yamaha store here ordered in the States and we had to wait for) replaced, the dinghy had its “last” hole patched, the house was clean, the fridge full of fresh food and all the dirty laundry done! We were ready to go, physically and mentally, but… the weather did not cooperate. The forecast for the coming week predicted no wind!

So, we “sat back”, relaxed and enjoyed … mmm… waiting around. Soon enough, we started emptying the fridge again, making the boat dirty, wearing clothes, using the acquired diesel and gas and getting into new “projects”, namely dealing with our dinghy and portable generator issues. The good news: we can spend a bit more quality time with our friends. The bad news: I am already starting to miss the things and people we will leave behind! Should we spend another season in the Eastern Caribbean? Nope… we are going for it, wind behind us, following seas and exploring new horizons. Soon!

Windguru forecast

Fixing outboard problems

Enjoying a great night out with our friends Sim and Rosie

Motoring around the corner from Prickly Bay to Morne Rouge Bay with SV Alianna

Sunset from Morne Rouge Bay. Soon, we'll be heading that way!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Emergency Hatch Battle

Since Mark and I own our boat, the two emergency hatches – which are located inches above the waterline – have been leaking. We’ve tried to find and fix the leaks many times in many ways and re-bedded both of them during our first year of cruising. Since then, we replaced the gaskets, tightened bolts, added silicone and so on. Every time we went sailing in the past, Mark walked downstairs to check the starboard hatch, found salt water protruding and lined the bottom of the window with a “shammy” to soak it up. Where the water came from was a mystery and nothing seemed to fix it. 

On our recent sailing trip from Carriacou back to Grenada, Mark watched the rush of the seawater against the emergency hatch for about an hour and – after not only finding water along the edge inside, but actually seeing water all the way in our bilge – he detected the problem. We would have to re-bed this hatch again, a job deemed to only be possible when hauled out of the water. Didn’t we just haul out about a month ago for the umptiest time? Nope, we were not going through that effort and expense again! We were going attempt to fix it while in the water…

We only had one small tube of caulk (4200), so we made a brief stop in St. David’s Harbour and rowed ashore (our outboard engine also has problems) to buy another one, the last and only one they had, at the small Island Water World branch there. Then we continued on to Port Egmont, one of Grenada’s excellent hurricane holes. We found flat water and peace before starting our big project the following morning. I won’t go into much detail, but … a project it was: hard, time consuming and a tad stressful. To top it off, the 4200 we just bought was bad! Luckily the one we had left was good and enough for the job. We took the whole window and frame out, put a “guard” in place to keep salt water out in case the wind picked up or a boat drove by and cleaned all the old caulk off everywhere, before putting the frame and window back. Mark sat inside Irie, with his head through the opening most of the time; I was hovered underneath our low bridge deck in our deflated dinghy (to make it fit – great idea!), taking in water with every wind wave. 

When Mark passed the caulked frame through, it had to go in the water to be able to attach it to the boat. Bad choice of orientation. We thought it wouldn’t matter for the 4200 and finished the project, pumped up the dinghy and cleaned everything up. Later research taught us that the surfaces can NOT be wet when applying 4200 and we had just dunked the whole thing in seawater! Now what? We were dead tired after six hours of hard work and… we were out of caulk!! Quick action took place; we rowed to shore, hitched a ride to the main road, took a bus to St. George’s and bought more caulk at the marine store before it closed. We returned to Irie at 5pm and … did the whole job again, at night this time! Mission accomplished in two tries (as frequently) and about 12 hours, right before stormy weather arrived. The good news: we are happy with our work and commitment and the hatch doesn’t leak anymore!

Mark makes a "guard" which covers half of the hole, while underway from Carriacou to Grenada...

 Cleaning the old caulk off everything, even all the bolts, nuts and washers.

The guard to keep water from coming into the boat, is in place.

There is not much room to work underneath Irie's bridge deck.

Done! So we thought...

Doing it ALL over again at night! (Removing "new" caulk is much harder than scraping off old caulk)

Putting the frame back in place in between squalls and bumpy water. Tricky and stressful.

Done! Really! (It was 11pm by then)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Where is the Cheapest Fuel in Grenada?

On October 10th, Irie’s preparations to go west, started with a sailing trip north! Mark and I were anchored in Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, and had been trying to find out where the cheapest fuel in the area was. Petite Martinique (PM) is said to be the best place and we gave them a call. When we found out that they are overcharging (about EC$2, almost US$1, a gallon), just like Prickly Bay Marina does on the south coast, we came up with an alternative. But, that wasn’t until we unsuccessfully exhausted our efforts in trying to get the folks at PM to lower their prices to what they were supposed to charge by calling them (B&C Fuels Enterprise) and the government’s Consumer Affair Unit. In Grenada, fuel prices are set by the government ( and anybody is encouraged to call them about any price discrepancies: “Furthermore, consumers are encouraged to immediately notify the Price Control/Consumer Affairs Unit in the Ministry of Finance of any instance of overpricing at telephone number 440-1369.”

Since we wanted to fill up our 33 gallon diesel tank and store a few extra jerry cans, it was worth going through the effort to find a better price. PM is still the cheapest place to find fuel in Grenada, but we decided to sail to Union Island first, to see whether Joyce was present. This cargo vessel stocks up on diesel in Venezuela and then sells it, legitimately, to anyone swinging by the boat. She usually hangs out in Clifton (or Bequia) when she is not “down south”.  Mark and I wanted to have some sailing fun and tacked upwind to Union in about three hours to arrive right in between two squalls.

Joyce, unfortunately, wasn’t around, but – after lunch break – we managed to obtain about 40 gallons of fuel from a gas station ashore (diesel: EC$ 11.31; gasoline: EC$ 13.77 per US gallon). It took us two dinghy rides to fill Irie up and have spare jerry cans. When we arrived back in Tyrrel Bay, after a slow downwind sail, the sun was about to set. It took us a full day to fulfill our quest, but we are one step closer to leaving on our sailing trip west now!

One of the squalls passed just north of us once we arrived at the reef entrance of Clifton Harbour.

The blue boat looked like Joyce upon our approach, but wasn't.

We had to go to the fuel dock ashore, and walk to the street, since the diesel pump at the dock was broken.

Each time we put diesel in our tank, we pour it through a Baja filter.

Mark takes care of the second run ashore. Now we are full!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Little Mangrove Adventure

What do you do when it rains non-stop for four days in a row? You watch Harry Potter movies and read. What if the computer and boat batteries are low because the lack of sun? You read and you read some more. But, what do you do if your book is finished (and you get a bit stir crazy)? You go on a little mangrove adventure!

Somebody had told us about a trail in the mangroves, which was shady and lead to a pretty little beach. Drizzle or no drizzle, Mark and I took the dinghy into Tyrrel Bay’s hurricane hole and located the “trail head”. Of course, we “forgot” that it had been raining for days on end and the trail looked more like a dirt track with muddy puddles. What happens when you walk through mud with flip flops? Your foot gets stuck, your flip flop might break and you kick up dirt spatters so your legs look like speckled broom sticks. I went barefoot most of the way, stepping in prickles a few times and collecting mosquito bites on every limb. 

After sinking into the mud up to my knees (Mark thought that was very funny) twice and dodging tree branches and thorny bushes we reached the end of the trail. Where was the beach? Not to be found… We backtracked on the mud path and returned to our dinghy in the mangroves. While walking through the water to untie the line, something sharp cut my toe. When trying to figure out what it was, nothing was present on the bottom. Then, I felt something on my foot. It was “snapping” and more movement took place close by… Crabs! I jumped and screamed and hopped from mangrove root to mangrove root into the dinghy. In between laughs, Mark yelled “You still have to untie us!” So, back I went – NOT through the water. Muddy and wet, we returned to Irie, ready for a saltwater shower and … to start another book, a less treacherous activity!

Driving into Tyrrel Bay's "hurricane hole".

Parked in the mangroves; we found the clearing!

Sinking into the mud, barefoot.

Where is the beach? We must not have followed the right trail.

Heading back to the dinghy along the mucky trail.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tourist for an Afternoon

Mark and I tried to leave Prickly Bay to go to Carriacou, a few days ago. On day 1 we encountered some problems with our depth sounder and the engine, preventing us to leave.  On day 2 the wind dropped and it was impossible to sail north. We decided to leave the busy south coast of Grenada anyway and had a very slow but pleasant sail “around the corner” to the island’s west side.  For a while, we were doing 5 knots over water, feeling the movement of the boat and the rush of the waves, but our actual progress was a little over 1 knot! More than 3 knots of current against us, but we didn’t care. We were not in a hurry, we enjoyed being back on the water again (it had been almost two months since we last sailed “for real”) and we had just decided to stop at Morne Rouge, one of our favorites.

On the way to Morne Rouge Bay, we passed a pretty stretch of yellow sand called Magazine Beach. This is the location of one of Grenada’s fanciest restaurants and we actually hoped to spoil ourselves here one night, before heading west. It’s just hard to get here without your own car. Seeing the groove of palm trees, the deserted strand bordering clear water and realizing that our destination was not too far away, a plan formed for the next day… Wouldn’t it be nice to take the dinghy for a little ride and spend the afternoon in this pretty looking area?

The following morning, we caught up on some work, had lunch on Irie and … headed for the beach after packing our bag and snorkel gear. I had anticipated a half day trip; quite the expedition. I was excited at the prospect of spending an afternoon at the beach and having dinner at a renowned restaurant, two things (especially the last one) we rarely do. Yes, we do live on a boat and are often anchored in front of a nice beach, but we find the cockpit a more comfortable place to hang out. We memorized the route in our heads for the nocturnal return trip and pulled our dinghy ashore in front of the Rex Resort. The afternoon was spent in the shade of some palm trees in the company of countless (biting) insects. We read our books and snorkeled around a beautiful area of massive boulders.

Around 5:30pm we moved into The Aquarium, our restaurant of choice for a decent and unprecedented treat. I ordered a pina colada (quite a tasty change from rum & coke), but Mark stuck to beer. When dinner time arrived we moved inside and scrutinized the menu for a long while. There were so many delicious choices… Since this was a very unique occasion, we let our fantasy and budget go wild. Glass of wine and a Stag, please! After a shared appetizer of bruschetta and fresh seafood soup with homemade bread and garlic butter, we went for the glazed pork wrapped in bacon (with goat cheese, mashed potatoes and gingered carrots) and the Aquarium seafood platter containing scallops, shrimp, mahi mahi and lobster (with sides of seasoned rice and steamed vegetables). The camera stayed hidden to not interrupt this scrumptious moment. Our eyes were bigger than our mouths and reluctantly we had to admit defeat and take leftovers home. Dessert? No, thanks! We were literally exploding and out of money. A leisurely beach walk under the stars got the digestive process started and brought us back to our personal water craft home. Ah, to be(have) like a tourist!

The Aquarium Restaurant

Magazine Beach

Snorkeling in "the aquarium"