Monthly Archives: August 2013

The view from the back porch


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Bottom work

Jack is still coming to grips with the amount of work it takes to maintain a liveaboard boat. Since we’re in the water all the time, marine growth can sneak up on you if you don’t keep up with it. Although our boat isn’t that big compared to most of them here in the anchorages we do have two hulls to keep clean and it’s a lot of work.

Mark from Macushla offered to show Jack how to scuba dive to see if he wants to invest the time and money on lessons and equipment. Diving on the hulls is much easier than just snorkeling, especially for getting down as far as the props. It all needs to be kept clean of barnacles and weeds and other growth or our speed will suffer. Things can also grow in the various thru-hulls in the boat, restricting cooling water and other intakes.

So Jack had a few lessons on Mark’s equipment and now we have to decide if it’s worth it to make the investment or cheaper to just hire someone periodically to clean the bottom for us. No decision yet. Stay tuned.








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Summer routine

We’ve fallen into a comfortable routine. Mondays we go to the nearby marina where a local woman sells fresh produce, juices and various salsas and sauces. She’s our go-to source for food, although we like to go to the big downtown market on Saturdays, too.



On Wednesdays we go to Burger Night at the same marina. Burgers and fries and veg burgers “for those who are partial to the cow,” according to the owner. It’s a fun night out, a cheap dinner and close to where we’re anchored in case of rain.

Fridays we sometimes take the shopping bus if we need provisions that are too big or heavy to carry on the regular city bus. Shopping buses are run by the various marinas and go to the big supermarkets, the banks, chandleries and hardware stores and you can get a lot of errands done efficiently. We prefer the city buses, but only if we have one shopping area to go to. Otherwise the shopping bus makes sense.

We’ve started going to yoga class on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday in the next bay west of us, and to Tai Chi on Tuesday and Friday, two bays over, requiring a dinghy ride and a walk. We wish we had started the yoga class earlier in our stay here. The three yoga teachers are very different from each other and it gives a nice variety to our practice.

Friday evenings we sometimes dinghy to the next bay east of us for happy hour either beachside or on an old lightship.



Sunday is jam-session day at Whisper Cove Marina, right near our boat. Local and cruiser musicians and wannabes get together and sing and play while the rest of us listen and sometimes sing along. Others play dominoes or just visit. It’s a pretty lively group and a fun tradition.







Sometimes I feel like we’re in a floating retirement community, but there are also boat chores to do to remind us that this isn’t a life of complete leisure. Still, it’s a pretty good life.


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The view from the side deck


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23 years


Another year has gone by and Jack and I celebrate the anniversary of our wedding under sail in the Chesapeake Bay. As we stood on the bow of the chartered yacht Franya we both envisioned sailing our own boat toward the setting sun. It took us many years to achieve escape velocity and make our dream come true, and we still haven’t turned our bow westward. But we’re proud of the life we built together, the adventures we’ve shared so far, the challenges we’ve overcome and the ever-evolving dreams we have for the future.

Marriage isn’t easy but it helps to pick the right partner and we both know we did. Happy anniversary to my husband, my friend, my skipper. I love you to pieces!



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Our agent in the back

Drew helped in our continuing struggle with failing computers by mailing us a package of backup drives and a USB connector kit that will allow me to copy the data off the hard drive in our dead laptop before I send it to the electronics recycler. You’ll remember our odyssey springing our replacement Spot from the clutches of Grenadian Customs at the airport. This time would be different because Drew sent the package via the Post Office instead of United Parcel Service. It’s supposed to be easier.

We arrived at the Grenada General Post Office by mid morning and noticed a sign posted to the door that the Post Office would close at noon for the rest of the day so the staff could attend the funeral of a colleague. That gave us two hours to get this done. The parcel desk found our package easily and handed us a box cutter and asked that we open the box at the counter. I pulled out the items and showed my receipts. When I asked to accept the package as a Yacht in Transit so I could save the VAT tax, they told us once again that we needed an agent. Why? Why? Why? I’m standing there with my package but I can’t have it!

We were directed to the back of the building to the agent. We picked our way through debris in the alley to a lean-to that served as the office for the agent. He was all smiles. Of course he was. He gets to charge for doing nothing.


He wanted the usual $150 EC, which I refused to pay, but he said we would talk about that “later” as he sent my paperwork off with another fellow. We watched as the time ticked by, and I kept going over to the lean-to to get an update but mostly the agent wasn’t there.


Finally I was presented with the stamped customs form and had to once again negotiate the agent fee to something more reasonable. This whole system makes me furious and must deter some cruisers from spending time here, or at the very least encourages some fancy dancing to get around the fees and costs. It’s not a good way to treat people who are spending all their cost-of-living dollars in your country.

We were happy to finally get the new backup drives and by the end of the day I had rescued all of our data, photos and music from the hard drive on the dead laptop. Thanks to Drew for the package, but no thanks to Grenada for their Byzantine customs regulations.

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We’re at it again

Seven am launch and shove off. Catnip seems to actually be repaired and has been holding her air pressure so there’s little to do but grab the rope fall, step off Escape Velocity’s transom steps onto Catnips’ firmly inflated hypalon tubes, gingerly walk two steps while carefully balancing, hop down and push the starter button and we’re off to catch the F1 race live from Spa at the outdoor Tiki Bar, Prickly Bay Marina where a small but dedicated group of fans congregate every F1 race day. Our local Marina which is less than a quarter mile from where Escape Velocity is anchored started showing the F1 races but our tradition is the Tiki Bar at Prickly Bay where they also serve a nice breakfast.

The sun had already begun to warm the bay after a cool starry night. It’s a short run down Clark’s Court Bay till we pickup the starboard turn into the cut between Hog Island and the Woburn bight where there’s a line of longterm boats stashed cheek to jowl tied to the mangrove trees, some of whom have actually sunk right where they are tied.


We thread our way through the pilings holding up the pedestrian bridge to Hog Island although I’ve seen more cattle on this bridge than people. It’s said that some developer is working on building a resort there.


Passing under the bridge we’re faced with a wall of anchored cruising boats of all types and sizes, so thick it looks like you’d never be able to get through. I keep Catnip up on plane because we still have a long way to go. In the States you’d never dream of weaving your way through an anchorage at high speed but that’s how you roll in Grenada. As we thread our way through we pay particular attention to friends’ boats or boats we only know by name on the VHF radio.


Passing out of the Hog Island anchorage things get serious and a little tense as the first order of business is to pick up the flag about halfway to Mt. Hartman Bay. This hard-to-spot flag, privately set by cruisers, has a solar garden light taped onto what looks like a tomato stake and is close to the cliffs to starboard and is stuck into the reef to port which kicks up nasty breakers rolling in from the open ocean, so it’s reefs to the left of me, reefs to the right, here we are threading the needle in the middle. The flag only sticks up about three feet so I often head to where I think it should be and anxiously scan the reef until I see it. Getting it wrong would be disastrous. The water is so clear here that you’re always looking right at the bottom features the whole time. Unnerving.

Once through the gauntlet we turn right and run up through Mt. Hartman Bay anchorage to the dinghy dock at Secret Harbor Marina.


Now it’s feets don’t fail me now time because there’s a high ridge and plateau between Secret Harbor and Prickly Bay Marina but it’s an interesting walk past the tumble down ruins of ghost resorts and rich people’s mansions who seem to live high up where it’s cooler. Our current path took us several tries to figure out ending in encounters with dogs, chickens, lizards, walls and fences while trying to find the most direct route.







There’s not much cover up here and we have to walk through several neighborhoods of new and old housing to reach the other side of the peninsula.


Once down off the plateau Prickly Bay Marina is a short walk down their long driveway.

Several weeks ago, halfway through the F1 season, the teams went on a forced four week hiatus, as did we, so we’ll see who the real fans are.

Several regulars are already waiting at the bar and they’re fiddling with the internet hookup which is always a last minute panic. It’s beginning to feel a lot like home. Don’t you just love traditions?


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The view from the back porch


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Dinghy concert

There are a ton of boats here waiting out the hurricane season, and wherever cruising boats gather the organizers among them start organizing. There are jam sessions, yoga classes, tai chi on the beach, pig roasts, burger night, pizza night and so on. We tend to not be joiners but when we heard about a dinghy concert we thought that sounded fun.

Things happen early in the cruising world to avoid having to dinghy long distances in the dark and because most of us can’t stay awake much past nine o’clock. The concert was at Le Phare Bleu in the next bay east of us and we dinghied through our anchorage, past what we just learned is called the “litter tray” because a bunch of catamarans are anchored there, around the marked reef in the Le Phare Bleu. As we rounded the corner we gasped when we saw what looked like more than fifty dinghies all rafted up and tied to a barge and a large anchored sailboat.


We tucked in behind a family of four and passed our line across for them to tie off on a stern cleat.


Behind us a new arrival handed us their line to tie on our stern cleat.


As more and more dinghies arrived the raft grew further and further from the barge, and each time a wave rolled in from the sea the whole thing undulated, often knocking a sailor or two off balance.


Surefooted children and pets nimbly stepped from boat to boat, looking for friends or treats. We had a long visit from a little dog named Tiller who went from dinghy to dinghy, presumably just to get hugged.


This is the Caribbean so the music started late but we enjoyed the pan band that came on short notice when the originally booked musician’s flight was canceled. People passed money toward the front of the raft-up where someone was always available to get a couple of beers from the bar on the barge, then the beers and the change would be passed hand to hand back to the owners.





20130825-155625.jpgWhen the concert was over everyone cast off the lines attached to their dinghy and we all gradually drifted apart and started the long quiet ride back toward our various anchorages.



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Down and out and back again

I’ve been sick. Two weeks ago we dinghied to the next bay over and spent a lovely happy hour with Macushla in a beachfront establishment with seriously comfy chairs. We got back in the early evening, ate a quick dinner and soon after I said to Jack, “My throat’s a little sore.” Within an hour, my throat went from “a little sore” to “unable to swallow without gasping in pain.” I couldn’t believe how quickly it came on. I ruled out an allergic reaction for various reasons but it was clear almost immediately that this was not a little scratchy throat that would go away without help. The problem was that it was carnival week. Most businesses were closed, even the clinics, and given the level of celebration we’d been observing I was reluctant to venture out to seek medical help anyway.

I bore with it for a few days hoping my natural healing abilities would take over, but I eventually realized I needed a course of antibiotics. Now before you jump on me, I’m not a person who takes antibiotics regularly. In fact I’m sure it’s been at least 15 years since I’ve taken any, even refusing them when they’ve been prescribed “prophylactically.” But this time, I knew I needed them.

Most cruisers carry a veritable pharmacy aboard and we should too, but given the confused circumstances of our house sale and boat search, we never got a chance to sit down with our former family doctor to put together a list of drugs we ought to have on board. Consequently our medicine cabinet consists of aspirin, Advil, DayQuil and NyQuil, antibiotic ointment, a lot of band aids and a few steristrips. Nothing to help me with what I suspected was strep. I felt like someone had jammed a hot poker down my throat and then shoved burrs down there. Yikes! Every swallow was a nightmare.

Mark of Macushla to the rescue again. He had a course of the exact antibiotic that WebMD recommended — if my self-diagnosis was correct — and ran them right over. It was a full course of eight days and I eagerly downed the first dose and sent the boys off to the Carnival parade. It killed me to miss the colorful festivities but I was so sick all I wanted was to curl up and hibernate until I was well again.

By the fourth day of the antibiotics my throat was starting to heal and I could eat a little, and by the sixth day I was nearly back to normal. The seventh day, yesterday, was my birthday and I pronounced myself well enough to dress up and go out with Jack and Mark. We had a beautiful dinner at Whisper Cove Marina with a lovely bottle of wine, enjoying the tail end of the weekly cruiser’s jam session, and frequent table visits from the chef who had made a special vegetarian dinner for Mark and me, and wanted to show Jack a photo of his cow, which Jack was eating.

We ended the evening on Escape Velocity finishing up the last batch of homemade mango toasted almond ice cream and soursop sorbet with chocolate nibs. It was a great birthday, made even better knowing that we can generally take care of ourselves when we need to — as long as our nearby friends have the right medicines.



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