Soooooooo………..

We rolled into Atlantic Yacht Basin a little after 18h00, and were directed to the Girl’s home away from home for the next 3 months or so.  She’s under a shed, but still in the water, which is pretty much fresh, as the marina is behind a lock and far from the ocean.  While she’s living here, she’ll get hauled for a fresh coat of bottom paint, and have her boot stripe raised (as part of it is currently below the waterline, and catching barnacles).  She’s also looking forward to having the techies from Northern Lights come in and install an experimental gadget aimed at alleviating our recurrent clutch problems.  Other boats with similar setups have had clutch problems as well, and NL has been looking for the right “test boat” to try out the laboratory guys’ proposed fix.  We’re it, so they’ll fly in from Washington state sometime this summer and work their voodoo on our recalcitrant generator.  After getting the Girl secured, we strolled out to the face dock, where the wake-making Krogen scofflaws were tied, to administer an appropriate helping of static to them.  After the good-natured (and tongue-in-cheek) tongue-lashing, we headed out for dinner.  El Toro Loco is a great little Mexican restaurant just a short walk from the boatyard, and a favorite of ours.  We three Krogen couples were joined by our mutual friends, Karen and Jeff, who were piloting their DeFever motoryacht north for the summer.  They say that wherever you have 2 or more Krogens, you have a party, so it was our duty to keep that adage alive.  A good time was had by all.

The next morning was the beginning of hammer time.  Over the next week, Alizann was cleaned and polished from the top of her mast to the bottom of her bilges.  Drippy-drips were fixed, and every nut and screw was tightened.  A couple of tired parts were replaced, the serpentine belt was changed, and filters exchanged.  Radars and the satellite dish were taken off the mast, so that their brackets could be sandblasted and repainted.  By the end of the week, we were “slap wore out”, but the Girl was exuding new-found energy.  I think she was a little disappointed when we told her that she needed to rest for a few months-the first time in a couple of years.  By the time September rolls around, she’ll probably fly out of that shed.

During the “Big Clean”, we packed up all of the stuff that we thought was indispensable when we left land 2 years ago, but haven’t used since.  In addition, all of our cold-weather clothes were packed up to bring back to dirt, as we didn’t anticipate being in less than tropical weather for the next couple of years.  We’ll box this stuff up and leave it back in Michigan so our pals back there can ship it to us when we need it again.  All computers were disconnected and packed so that new charts could be installed, and software upgraded with the help of reliable internet back in Michigan.  SCUBA rigs and cameras were boxed to head back to land for their much-needed maintenance visits.  Add in the 50-70# of Mahi in the freezer, and we had quite a load.

At Oh Dark-Thirty, we were on our way.

-See Ya in the Fall

Oops.

Been really busy.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.  Sure beats getting’ old and scattered.  This episode was written a month ago, and has been sitting on my desktop- thought I’d put it up. Oh well, a day late and a dollar short.

We spent the night at Morehead Yacht Basin, a familiar locale for us, then headed up the ICW to Oriental, NC.  There, we stayed at Whittaker Marina.  The marina is a pretty small operation, but is very nice, with a modern clubhouse and a swimming pool.  The best attribute, however, is that they have a courtesy car, which would allow us to do a little exploring.  Since we arrived a bit after 12h00, we had “first dibs”, and set out to West Marine and the town of Oriental.  There, we had lunch at “M&M’s”, highly recommended, but maybe a bit overrated in my opinion.  On the way home, the Admiral had us drive to River Dunes, a residential development that also has a pretty swanky marina.  The marina was gorgeous, but was a looooong way from anywhere by land, virtually trapping you on-site if you were visiting by boat.  (note to self) Back at the Girl, we decided to abandon the ICW the next day, and head out to Ocracoke island to do some tourist stuff, as we had a few days to burn.

So, let’s talk about Ocracoke.  The first folks known to be here were Algonquin speaking Native Americans, who never had a permanent settlement here, but used the island as a base for hunting and fishing.  The first European to describe area was Verrazano, in 1524.  He was unable to navigate the tortuous channel here, but assumed that China lay on the other side.  Later, in 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh ran his ship aground here.  Attempts at colonization were made, but met with failure.  Although uninhabited until 1750, Ocracoke was a favorite hangout for Edward Teach (a.k.a. Blackbeard), until his demise here in 1718.  From the 1750’s until the turn of the century, Ocracoke (then named Pilot Town) was the home to a group of skilled captains, who piloted small schooners trading on the North Carolina mainland from the Atlantic through the ever-changing shoals into Pamlico Sound.  By the late 1800’s, the shipping industry had died, and the main economic engine for the area became tourism, and remains so today.

We pulled in to the National Park Service dock in Silver Lake, the harbor at Ocracoke Village, and tied to the wall.  With my “Seniors” National Park pass, dockage was $.60/ft.  Yeah, Baby!  We cruised the dock to meet our neighbors, and the guy on the sailboat adjacent to us had a “Dunleavy’s” T shirt on.  (one of our favorite joints for mussels and beer-located on Sullivan’s Island, SC).  I had mine on too, so I said “Hey, nice shirt.” He looks up at me and asks how long I’d had it.  “About 3 years, but this is my third one.” Yeah, he’s had a couple too, and by the way, his name was Bill Dunleavy, and he owns the place.  We have a nice chat, find out that he lives on his boat-down south in the winter, Block Island in the summer.  Suzanne walked away with a new “Dunleavy’s” visor, and we gained a new boat pal.  The next morning, we rode our bikes to the ferry landing at the north end of the island.  Most of the north end is just a narrow dune, with the ocean on one side, and the Pamlico Sound on the other.  It made for a nice, albeit windy, ride.  After 28 miles, we had plenty of sand in our ears, and a couple of sore butts (after not riding since Eleuthera).  We treated ourselves to some Ahi and baked oysters at Oyster House when we returned to the village.  Back in the harbor, we had a couple of brewskies at “SmacNally’s” while we watched the rain roll in.  The winds were predicted to be 15-20 knots with seas of 3’ as we left the harbor the next morning.  In reality, we had 30 knot winds, pouring rain, and 2-4’ seas, right on our nose as we began the 12-hour trip to Manteo, site of the “Lost Colony”.  Good thing that boating plans are written in sand.  We decided to catch Manteo in the fall, and altered course to the east to catch the ICW.  We had 2 hours of “cupboard cleaners” on the beam, which sure beat 12 hours of beating upwind.  By 18h00, we had the hook down in 25 knots of wind at one of our favorite overnighters, Deep Point.

This morning, we were up and out of the anchorage by 05h45.  As we passed the Alligator River bridge, we were joined by 2 other Krogens, Evergreen (a 44’), and Gratitude (a 48’).  We planned on getting some boat chores done while taking our usual leisurely ride, timing to hit the Centerville Turnpike at 18h00.  It’s closed for rush hour between 16h00 and 18h00, and the 2 other boats decided that they’d pedal to the metal to make it before 16h00, so we didn’t travel together very long.  Later in the day, Suz and I witnessed a first-over the VHF a Krogen (!) being scolded for going too fast, throwing a wake into Coinjock Marina.  We’ll have the opportunity to give them an earful when we see them at Atlantic Yacht Basin tonight-Just Sayin’.

Just left North Carolina, crossing the Virginia state line.  The Girl will stay here in Chesapeake, Virginia for the summer while the crew returns to dirt for house chores and some travel.  We’ll stay with her for the next week or so to do some maintenance, varnishing, cleaning, and waxing, so we’ll talk ta ya…..

-Later

 

 

Goooood Morning!

Our stay in Charleston was wonderful, as usual.  Emily picked us up, and we all had a tasty dinner at Leon’s.  The eclectic menu featured several Clam apps, grilled Oysters, shrimp wraps, some interesting salads, and really good fried chicken, among other things.  I’d definitely go there again.  The next morning after church, we met Em for breakfast at The Queen Street Grocery.  Cam and Evan came over at 17h00, and we headed to Minero’s for Mexican food.  Killer!  We could barely waddle down the stairs and out the front door.  I should know better than to try and run with the big dogs.  C & E are 6’5” and 6’7”, respectively, play on about 5 soccer teams between them, and work out like mad dogs while they’re not fighting fires for the Charleston Fire Department.  Yeah, they can eat.  The Admiral had an appointment for a cut & color on Monday morning, so after dropping her off at the salon (Lordis Aveda Salon, for you Ladies), I walked through the back streets to the Girl.  Wax on, wax off for the next 5 hours while Suz got coiffed and clothing shopped for our upcoming European vacation.

Tuesday morning, we were off the dock by around 07h00 to take advantage of the slack water.  Getting out of the marina was a breeze (I had been up since 05h00, concerned about the current).  Unfortunately, we couldn’t take advantage of the ebbing tide as our first bridge (the Ben Sawyer) didn’t open until 09h00, and was only 6 miles away.  As we drifted downriver with the current, we spotted a Krogen Express at Charleston’s Megadock.  As we entered the Intracoastal Waterway behind Sullivan’s Island, unspoken excitement was mounting.  We had never traversed this section of the ICW aboard Alizann, but were well familiar with the area, as we have vacationed on the Isle of Palms for the past 30 summers (excluding last year, when we couldn’t make it back from Newfoundland).  Summer beach vacation with Suzanne’s family starts with the gang meeting at Morgan Creek Grill before taking possession of the beach house.  This year, we got pictures of the Grill from the water.

The rest of the trip to Georgetown was uneventful.  The currents were favorable most of the way, and we made good time.  Around the halfway mark, we were passed by “Viewfinder”, the Krogen Express from Chucktown.  We got a couple sips of diesel at the fuel dock in Georgetown, then moved over to our spot on the face dock.  Well……….we were around 12 feet longer than the space on the el, so we pulled out into the current, changed fenders and lines, did a 180 and backed in.  That way, our bow hung over, and our stern was secure.  Once tied up, the guy that was docked on the other leg of the el came over.  He was concerned that we were blocking him in, but felt better when I told him that we’d be leaving before daybreak.  Meanwhile, Trig and Alice from “Viewfinder” came over and introduced themselves.  Half an hour later, they were onboard with us for sips and chats.  They have a second home on Bald Head Island where we were headed, so we agreed to get together there.

It was like a new experience exiting Winyah Bay to the Atlantic the next morning, as the last and only time we were through here, the visibility was zero due to heavy fog.  As the sun burned off the morning mist, our trusty little ship turned North for a leisurely cruise to Bald Head Island, North Carolina.  Twelve hours and 85 nautical miles after our departure, we were safely tied at our “home away from home”, slip A-3 at Bald Head Marina.  Trig and Alice, having arrived 40 minutes earlier on their faster boat did the honors, handling our lines.  The Dockmaster told us that our friend, Betty, who has a home here would be arriving on “Lili” the following morning, and that 3 more Krogens would be here by early evening.  Yay!  Mini rendezvous.  Alice invited us to their home for sips the next evening, and Trig told us that he’d leave a golf cart at the marina for our use while on the island.  That’s boaters!  After sleeping in, we grabbed the cart and tooled to the other end of the island, where we walked the beach at Cape Fear.  After hitting the grocery, I’m standing on the dock talking to Betty, Jill & Diane, who have just returned from the Bahamas.  Suz walks up to me and quietly says “Marty, I need you to look at something”.  My stomach is now floppin’, ‘cause that’s how she ALWAYS leads in to bad news.  Back on the Girl, she leads me to the storage area under the settee, where we store our staples and canned goods.  OMG!  It smells like something died in there.  I thought she’d produce a dead mouse.  As it turned out, there was a thin film of liquid in the bottom of the compartment that had wicked up through all the contents.  Boxes, and bags of pasta, flour, rice, and etc. were sodden.  The labels on all the cans were wet and falling off.  Everything out, we thought that the culprit was a box of chicken broth.  We pitched all the wet boxes and bags, and marked each can with a magic marker, then started working on the (gag, gag) smell.  We thought that we’d better check the next compartment to the aft, just ‘cause.   #$%@!!  Even wetter than the first, with similar contents.  Repeat performance.  Next compartment back.  No food, but a heater/blower is housed there.  This one had standing water.  AND…. the culprit.  The PVC plastic fitting for our shore water inlet comes into this space, and had a stress fracture in it, sending out a fine mist of water.  (By the way, this is the same part that failed aboard “Idyll Time”, flooding Jeff & Susie’s pilothouse several months earlier).  The next compartment over contains the subwoofer for our stereo, and multiple keyboards, mouses, and assorted computer spare parts.  It was dry.  Working forward from the first wet compartment, the next was just slightly wet.  Judging by the quantity of mold, we’re thinkin’ that it must have been leaking for a week or so.  Suz had been in there a little over a week previously, and hadn’t noticed a problem.  The good news was that I had a spare part onboard, after already having replaced ours once before.  Okay, there seems to be a pattern here.  Let’s not repeat the behavior.  The new regulator is in, but that’s not the end of it.  I get online, and fail to find a stouter (more stout?) water inlet, but I have some thoughts about a design which will be more robust.  I’ll hit the plumbing supply stores this summer, and see what I can fabricate.  In the meantime, we’ll watch this one like a hawk.

Back to Bald Head.  We’re having sips at Alice & Trig’s beautiful home, and the sky is darkening.  The wind picks up, and there’s lightning in the distance, so Trig and I head out to the deck to stow the patio furniture.  Here comes the first of the 3 Krogens.  By now, the marina is closed, and as they beat past us through the whitecaps, we realize that there’ll be no help for them at the marina.  We pile into the golf carts and make it to the marina just as they’re getting to the docks.  Lisa and Mark, aboard “Tapestry”, Dave and Judy, on “Evergreen”, and Roberto and Maria, “Gratitude”, had just completed an overnight run from Fernandina Beach, and were rightfully proud, although pooped.  After going back to the house, we wrapped up Happy Hour, then went back to the marina to join the gang at “Mojo’s”, for dinner.  Suz and I enjoyed their “travel tales”, then returned to the Girl, where the contents of the compartments were still strewn about, drying and destinking.  We spent the next day putting things back together, and joined the Fernandina crew for dinner at Delphinas restaurant near the marina.

This morning, the 14th, we were off the dock at 05h15.  As we bucked the tide and current up the Cape Fear River, the fog moved in.  By the time that we got to Snow’s Cut, which is scary in full daylight, we had zero/zero visibility.  To make matters worse, the sun was glaring through the thick ground fog, effectively making me “snow blind”.  Suz read the chart plotter, doing the “left, “right, left, right” thing, while I drove, staring into the whiteness.  Good, clean fun.  We exited the ICW at Wrightsville Beach, and are now in the Atlantic under sunny skies, with a 3-foot swell on our beam.  We’ll reenter the ICW at Morehead City this evening to cross the Pamlico Sound the next day or so.

-Until Then

On the morning of the 5th, we were off the dock by 06h45.  The skies were clear.  Temperature 57 degrees.  Wind 20 knots out of the northwest.  We wanted to make some miles, so decided to run offshore to Wasaw Sound, about 80 miles away.  Our course would keep us within 10 miles of shore, and there were numerous inlets for us to sneak in to the ICW if it got too snotty.  By 12h00, the winds were a steady 27 knots, and we decided to enter Doboy Sound, and get back to the ICW.  Two miles from shore, we promptly ran hard aground in an area that was charted to be 14 feet deep.  We were on hard, and the tide was falling-not a great situation.  Every 5th wave or so was a big one that lifted us, then slammed us to the bottom.  It was very unnerving, but we were able to use this to our advantage.  I didn’t want to back up, for fear of damaging our rudder, but obviously there was deeper water behind us.  As we rose, we used our bow thruster to inch the bow a foot or so to the side.  By degrees, we did a 180, and were able to motor out, following our plotter, duplicating our exact course, only in reverse.  Back in deep water, we sucked it up and rode the waves.  In spite of the wind and waves, my darling girl baked some fresh bread.  The aroma filled the boat, calming my jangled nerves.  We entered Wasaw Sound at 18h00.    Anchor down in Herb Creek off the ICW at 19h15, cocktails were in order.  We had a restive night, as the wind and the reversing current were at odds.  The anchor chain rattled and banged, seemingly all night long.

Even though there had been lightning all around us when we turned in, the rain never came.  When we woke up, there were actually defined river banks, as the tide was lower than the evening before.  With the sun rising on this crisp, clear morning (53 degrees), we were on our way by 06h43.  We traversed one of the shallowest stretches of the ICW at nearly high tide, and coasted through.  As we neared the Ashley River and Charleston, the boat traffic got heavier on this beautiful Saturday morning.   Our morning arrival had been planned with the state of tide in mind.  Several years earlier, we had visited the Ashley marinas from land, and had made note of the fierce currents running through them.  Since that time, fellow cruisers had shared anecdotes about boats getting sideways, and many mishaps due to these currents.  The best laid plans………  When we arrived, the current was clipping along at about 2 knots.  No problem, Suz had talked to Ryan the day before, and he told her that they would put us on the face dock, obviating the need to maneuver inside the tightly packed docks.  When we called on the VHF, we were told that no, all of the spots on the face were occupied, and that we’d need to come on in and take a slip (also, it was Ryan’s day off).  Pucker time.  Long story short, there was no story.  With Suzanne’s expert guidance, and the dockhand’s quick hands on the lines, the Girl (17.5’ beam) was in an 18-foot-wide slip without a scratch.  I felt like I needed a drink, but didn’t stretch the five o’clock rule, as it was only 10h30.  We spent the rest of the day getting Alizann spiffed up for company.  Suzanne’s niece, Emily, will be visiting for sips before we go out for dinner tonight.  Tomorrow, 2 of my nephews, Cam and Evan, also living in Charleston, will be over before we head out to dinner with them.

-Later

Good Day!

In the morning, we moved up to the anchorage off of Tahiti Beach.  On the way over, we were hailed on the VHF by “Casablanca.” They told us that they were on a 58’ Krogen anchored off the beach, had been following our blog, and wanted to get together.  Sounded like a plan.  They were headed in to Hope Town for the day, but would we be in the anchorage tomorrow?  Yep.  “C’mon over to Alizann for sips at 5:30?”  The next morning, Fred and Carolyn came by and introduced themselves, and asked if we wanted to join them for lunch on shore.  We declined, because we were having a severe hankerin’ for the barbeque at Papa Nasty’s.  In fact, I’d been thinking about a stop here since last year (Yeah, it’s that good).  We dropped the tender in, and headed to our secret little docking spot in the corner of White Sound, and hiked up to the trailer that housed Papa’s.  It was boarded up tight as a drum-no sign of activity.  Boo!  We decided to assuage our disappointment by walking up to the Blue store and buying some homemade ice cream from the guy that sits outside the door there.  Fresh Mango-Yum.  We also found out that Papa had experienced some health problems that caused him to have to go to the States, forcing him to close up shop.  Later, turned out that he didn’t have to go, but he had already closed.  At any rate, that’s the story as it was told to us.  We got back to the dink and cruised over to Lubbers, where we had a nice lunch at “Cracker P’s”, highlighted by their famous hot fish dip.  After lunch, we motored over to Tahiti Beach, a sand spit that bares at any tide state other than high, where we joined the gang that was sunning there.  That evening, we were joined by Fred and Carolyn, and found out that they were on their third Krogen, each one larger than the previous.  We shared cruising stories, and found that they had owned one of their boats in the Pacific Northwest.  This really whetted our appetites for new adventures, and before the night was over, they had given us all of their charts for the west coast, from Mexico to Desolation Sound.  We were only able to round up a few charts and guidebooks for Maine, where F&C would be heading this summer, to return the favor.

28 April.  Great Guana Cay, and Nipper’s beach Bar was our next destination.  Let’s just say that one of us had too much fun at the bar.  Suz paid the bill, and got us a ride back to the tender by some nice folks coming by in their golf cart.  Manjack Cay, 3 hours away, was our next stop.  We had a secret spot over on the next little cay where we had found a cache of Sea Biscuits the year before.  But, when we motored over in the tender, we found that “our spot” wasn’t so secret any more.  There was a makeshift awning and a firepit on the shore, and no Sea Biscuits in the eel grass.  Undeterred, we motored on.  Suzanne scoped out the bottom with our “look bucket” (a 5-gallon pail that I had cut the bottom out of, replacing it with clear plexiglass).  We found a new secret spot, and within 45 minutes, had collected over 20 dead Sea Biscuits which Suz would scrub, bleach, and present as treasures to her friends.

On the 30th, we had a weather window which would allow us to cross back to the States.  We had hoped for a 3-day window, which would allow us to cross from the Bahamas to North Carolina, but it looked like 2 was all we’d get before the wind and seas got up again.  We decided that Fernandina Beach, on Amelia Island, would be a good port of entry, so at 07h00 we hauled anchor in the Bahamas for the last time this season.  Shortly after we got underway, we heard the sailing vessel, “Kite”, on the VHF.  They were talking to another boat about their plans to cross to the U.S.  We hailed them, and let them know that we’d be crossing too, and agreed to be of mutual assistance if the need arose.  Twelve hours later, we approached the edge of the Bahamas Bank, and were back in deep water heading to the northwest, where we would get into the central axis of the Gulf Stream (really The Florida Current).  Once in the current, it’s northward flow would help to push us along.  I secretly hoped that the marine forecast was wrong, and that we’d be able to make it farther north.  By early morning on the first of May, the seas were starting to build a bit.  When we changed watches at 01h30, they had gone from 1’-3’ to 2’-4’, and the wind was up to 19 knots out of the east.  Suz told me that “Kite” had called earlier, just to check in, and that they had a nice conversation.  When the sun came up, we got lines in the water and fished all day.  We had a lot of baits stolen, but only brought in one Skipjack for our efforts.  We sent him back for a swim.  The seas remained at 2’-4’ all day, but the wind decreased, and clocked around to the south-southeast, indicating an imminent frontal passage.  We stuck with our original plan, and pointed our bow west, entering the harbor at Fernandina Beach at 08h45 on May 2nd.  There isn’t a whole lot more to report on the trip home, just a continuum of unbroken horizon for 360 degrees, engine room checks, videos, reading, napping, and the occasional whir of a fishing reel.  We needed to get the salt crust off the Girl, so instead of anchoring or taking a mooring, we called for a spot on the dock.  The Dockmaster told The Admiral that the annual Shrimp Festival had just wrapped up the day before, and the docks were pretty full.  Boats were pulling out as it was Monday morning, and by the time we arrived, there was a slot on the face dock for us.  We plugged in, turned on the air conditioning, and slept for 4 hours.  Later, while we were cleaning the boat, a friend and former multiple Krogen owner, Dennis walked down the dock from the latest in their long line of “Sea Fox’s.”  He invited us to join him and his wife, Julie, for dinner on shore.  Over Mexican food, they regaled us with stories of their cruising life.  They have owned boats on both coasts of the U.S., taken a Krogen across the Atlantic with a group of trawlers, and cruised the Med.  We were particularly interested in their experiences on the west coast for obvious reasons, and got many good tips.  Tuesday morning, “Sea Fox” was gone, I was outside cleaning, and Suz was in.  All of a sudden, I heard some VERY raised voices, then CRASH!  I looked up to see a small trawler, sideways in the current, scraping against the anchor pulpit of a moored sailboat, then the piling that the sailboat was tied to.  Free of these obstructions, it then caromed across the fairway, “T-boning” a power boat tied there.  All the while, the guy on the trawler is yelling at (his wife?) louder and louder.  They get their boat straightened out, motor out of the marina, and head south down the ICW.  I’m thinkin’, “Really?” They get about a half mile down, then turn around and come back, docking at the marina office.  I’m not sure if their conscience got the better of them, or they knew that I had witnessed the whole deal and had their boat name.  I’m going with the former.  Later, I found that they had filed an accident report.  Good for them.  After a day of boat chores, we fell off the wagon, and treated ourselves to half pound (?) burgers, and hand-cut fries at Tasty’s.  What a deal.  We stopped at Atlantic Seafood on the way home, and picked up a couple pounds of shrimp for another day.

After 2 nights in Fernandina, it was time to push North again.  The marine forecast didn’t look great, so we headed up the Intracoastal for Brunswick, GA.  Lots of our pals stop there, as it’s a friendly, inexpensive marina, and we had wanted to check it out in the past, but had never had the opportunity.  Our route would take us past the King’s Bay naval facility, where the Navy services our submarines.  As luck would have it, as we entered the ICW from Fernandina Bay, we were approached by 3 Coast Guard inflatables with BIG guns on their bows, lights flashing.  After an exchange on the VHF, we were instructed to move up Cumberland Sound, as a naval warship would be heading through, necessitating the closure of the ICW.  We could have headed south, gone around Cumberland Island, and back up the Brunswick River, but thought it’d be cool to see a sub underway from up close, so we headed into the Sound.  After idling for 20 minutes or so, we decided to drop anchor, as there didn’t seem to be much happening on the ICW.  Finally, the sub passed by, accompanied by 2 large tugs.  It was a small attack sub, but it was still pretty darn big, and quite impressive.  Our hour-and-a-half delay put us behind the tide, and when we got up to Jekyll Island, we had to anchor to wait for enough water to pass through Jekyll Creek.  Ten hours after leaving Fernandina, we arrived at Brunswick, having traversed only 39 miles.  Turns out that we were just in time for social hour(s) at the clubhouse, featuring beer and wine, provided by the marina.  We met a lot of interesting, friendly folks, including the owners of “Kite”.  They were just returning to the States after completing a 6-year circumnavigation of the globe.  We chatted until long after the party was over, and were fascinated by tales of their travels.

-Until Later   

April 24 started out with an early departure.  We got off the dock at Spanish by 07h00, retracing the route taken by the ferry the day before.  It promised to be a pretty day.  The sun was blazing low on the horizon as we motored slowly out through the creek, and between the coral heads to the ocean.  The low sun made it a little unnerving running through the coral, as it was blinding, and its’ low angle made the water black, and unreadable.  We breathed a sigh of relief as the fathometer started reading ever-increasing depths.  Fishing was on the docket, as crossing the New Providence Channel meant lots of deep water.  I had rigged the last of our frozen Ballyhoo (Little fish, about 10”-12” long that the big guys like to munch) the night before, so baited up and got the lines in by 08h30.  We got our first hit at 09h00.  As the line was running off the reel and Suz was coming back to the cockpit, another fish hit the second reel.  Twenty minutes later, we had 2 Mahi, a 47” and a 44” in the cooler.  Within a half hour, the third Mahi was in the cooler, this one a smallish 42 incher.  The Admiral said “No mas!”, but we dragged some artificial lures, anyway.  I guess the fishing gods knew that we had had enough fun for one day, so for the next 6 hours, we rolled along over 1’-3’ seas, enjoying the passage to Great Abaco island, fishless.  Sirius XM radio was playing a Prince tribute, so the tunes kept coming, bringing back some poignant memories for both of us (we’re both Prince fans, and have had some great times while listening to his music). By late afternoon, we were tied to the dock at the familiar Schooner Bay Marina (this is where we started our trip to the Abacos in 2015).  One of my enduring memories of this place was being nearly devoured by the No-see-ums.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The “flying teeth” were out in full force while I stood at the cleaning table filleting fish.  The task was made simpler (if not longer) by my new-found pal, Jack, an 11-year old on the other boat docked here.  He was the fisherman in his family, and he was gonna catch a Mahi, so he would need to learn how to filet one.  He brought his trusty new filet knife to the table with him, so our first task was to learn how to sharpen a knife.  As we went about our task, and impromptu anatomy lesson, he regaled me with the family secrets (as 11-year olds are want to do).  The least damaging went like this: “We didn’t have a very good day yesterday, my Mom especially”.  “Oh, really?”  (Note the open-ended question here) “Yeah, I was casting off the back of the boat, and my hook got caught next to the dinghy.  The dinghy is inflatable, so I was terrified (his word) that I might put a hole in it.  I pulled the line back, and got the hook stuck in me.  These fisher guys were on the next boat, and they came over and tied a string to a hook, told Mom to hold the line tight, and jerked it out.  Well, I guess Mom didn’t hold the line tight enough, ‘cause the hook flew through the air, and landed in her, even deeper.  Then, they did it to her.”  By the way, this story was corroborated earlier in the day, as 2 fishing boats were chatting on the VHF radio.  Well, we got the job done.  Jack got to try out his new filet knife, and my “Really big, really sharp” one, and took a couple pounds of Mahi filets home for his efforts.  (this after he cut the eyes out of the fish, killed about 50 black flies, squirted the washdown hose, sharpened his knife, and chased a few birds-you get the picture).  Mom, Sarah, took half of the fish up to the lodge, where it was cooked for her family’s dinner.  A fun day. I think I’m gonna be a better Grandfather than I was a Father.  Went to bed with a big smile on my face.

What a day.  We were off the dock at Schooner Bay at 0800.  By 0900, as I was putting the second line out, we got a hit on the first one and boated our first Mahi, a 44 incher.  He gave us quite a fight.  I rebaited, and we were trailing 2 Ballyhoo with green/yellow silicone skirts.  Within 15 minutes, as I was cleaning up the blood from the Mahi, one of the reels started.  Click……. Click…. Click, Click, Click………Cliiiiiiiiiiick.  Started real slow, then that reel was screaming out line.  “Fish On!”  I really didn’t need to tell Suzanne, she had already slowed the Girl, flipped on Otto, and was headed back to the cockpit.  The fish jumped, maybe 150 yards out, but I didn’t get a good look at it, because I was focused closer to the boat, but out of the corner of my eye, it sure didn’t look like a Mahi.  Maybe a Wahoo, but it didn’t FEEL like a Wahoo (not enough brute strength).  Suz asked if I wanted the other line reeled in, but I said “no”, ‘cause where there’s one, there may be another.  Twenty minutes later, as we got the fish closer, and got a glimpse before he headed straight for the bottom, we could see that he was some sort of Billfish.  Panic set in.  We had to let him go, but really didn’t know how to go about it.  Suz remembered a fishing captain telling her that you just grabbed them by the bill, removed the hook, and turned him loose.  Yeah, sure.  Anyway, we reeled him up from the depths, and brought him alongside.  Raising him out of the water by the single strand steel leader proved a challenge, as he wasn’t done yet.  Between the two of us, we got him up enough for me to grab his bill, while he resisted frantically.  We snapped a couple of pictures after we untangled him from the second line which I had unwisely had Suz leave in the water, dehooked him, and sent him back to fight another day.  He was only about a 40-pound Sailfish (or maybe my adrenaline was really kicked in), and we wondered what we would do if we hooked a really big Marlin.  Guess that’s another question to ask the next time we meet professionals at a dock.  We put the wide angle lens on one of the camera bodies just in case we had another opportunity.  I’ll be darned.  A half hour later, the same tentative nibble on the bait, then all H, E, double hockey sticks, broke loose.  This time, as the reel was screamin’ out line, I focused on the waaaay out.  Another one.  Suz played him for 15 or 20 minutes, then began the give and take to get him to the boat.  Meanwhile, I reeled in the other line.  After a bit, the ratio of give to take tilted in her favor, and he was alongside.  Another Sailfish!  This one was pretty bloodied, and we were concerned that he might not do so well, but after we shook the hook out, he wallowed for a few seconds, and was off to the races.  The next few hours, we trailed a couple of artificial lures while I went up top and started cleaning the boat.  I was standing on the roof of the pilothouse with a hose in my hand, when Suz laid on the horn, throttled down, and screamed “Fish on”!  By the time I got down to the cockpit, she was on the reel, and nearly 500 yards of line was out.  A second later she said “I think we lost him”.  Boy, did it take a long time to get all that line in.  Done for the day, entered North Bar Cut and headed up Tiloo Cay, where we would anchor for the night.  At anchor, we finished cleaning the Girl, and I filetted the Mahi, while Suz made fresh bread.  She’s calling me for dinner (fresh Mahi), so I gotta go.

-Later

PS Still no net for pics.

Helooo,

I promised a few words about The Island School.  Here goes.  The Island school was founded around 20 years ago, on land donated by the DeVos family (see Amway Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan).  Its’ mission is to teach kids to be good stewards of the environment, and good citizens in general.  Curriculum subjects include earth sciences, marine biology, renewable energy, and etc.  The facility generates all their needed power (via wind, solar & biodiesel) and place excess into the Bahamas electric grid. The school has 2 terms of 100 days each, with 50 High School students (mostly sophomores and juniors) living in.  These students are mostly from the States.  Tuition is $30K/ term.   The 70-odd staffs talents run the gamut from teaching to the operation of the schools hydroponic farm, solar and wind generating system, carpentry shop, and daycare center.  In addition to the live-in students, the School hosts camps and field trips for local kids, these being nearly free of charge.  Immediately adjacent to the School, is the Ocean Institute, where current research includes the restoration of the conch population in the Bahamas, as well as the problems that have been created by the introduction of the invasive Lionfish into these waters.  The school pays local fisherman for their Lionfish and subsequently serves them for dinner. After our 2-hour tour, we had barely scratched the surface-check out their website. www.islandschool.org

April 21rst, and it was time to say “goodbye” to Davis Harbour.  What a great little marina-Friendly people, good shelter from all winds, and FAST internet.  Since we had visited Rock Sound and Government Harbours on our road trip, Hatchet Bay would be our stop today.  We had a pleasant, albeit wavy and windy trip under partly cloudy skies.  Along the way, we were entertained by a pod of around 10 Dolphins, one of which was a small youngster.  The Girl got a nice saltwater bath, and was pretty crusty by the time we got to the opening of the harbor.  The harbor is entered through a 90’ wide channel cut through a rocky cliff, which was a bit of a challenge with the 24 knot crosswind/sea.  Once inside, the water was quite calm, but still quite windy.  We had a heck of a time getting tied to the very poorly maintained mooring ball.  After a few tries, we finally got a line on, which promptly wound itself into knots.  Recalling our friend, Ann’s travails with a recalcitrant mooring over a year ago, in which she very nearly lost her leg, requiring medevac, multiple surgeries, and months of rehab, I cut the line loose and left it on the ball.  As we motored to the other end of the bay to drop our anchor, we got a call from another boater on the VHF, asking if we needed help.  He motored over to the ball, and after nearly 15 minutes, managed to get our hopelessly knotted line free.  We returned, and got hooked up, then started sharing stories.  It seems that he saw our hailing port, Charlevoix, MI, and had lived there while he ran a sailmaking shop.  He had a home on Oyster Bay.  We have several friends there, so we had mutual acquaintances.  Now, here’s the crazy part.  Suzanne told him that 20 or so years ago, before we built our present house, we had looked to buy a house on Oyster that had a blue metal roof.  He says “That was my house!” Next, Suz says “Is your last name Gleason?”  I thought he was going to drop dead-I don’t know how she remembers this stuff, we only looked at the house once.    We took down the tender to run in to shore, explore, and pay for the mooring.  The motor ran sluggishly for a few minutes, then died, reeking of gasoline.  After hauling “White Star” back up, and pulling the engine cowling, we found that the gas was coming out of a weep hole in the fuel pump reservoir.  What?  Pulled the pump, emptied the fuel, and took apart the pressure regulator-bad “O” ring.  Into the trusty thousand ring kit.  New “O” ring, and we were good to go.  To shore, for a quick explore and pay the rent on the mooring.  Nobody home at the Front Porch Restaurant (mooring owner), so we stuck a twenty under the welcome mat, and called it good.  Nothing special in Alicetown and Hatchet Bay, except for the arrival of the ferry, which brought the whole town out to the dock.  We headed back to the Girl.  The Gleasons joined us that evening for sips, and we shared chats about mutual friends, and the lake in general.

We delayed our departure until 08h30, so that we would hit Current Cut, on the north end of Eleuthera at slack tide on our trip to Spanish Wells.  It was cloudy and overcast, but the wind and seas were on our stern, so it was a comfortable passage.  The current was still running at 4 knots as we went through the cut, and we thought about breaking out the water skis as the Girl shot through at a blistering 10.2 knots.  The marina at Spanish Wells Yacht Haven was in the final stages of renovation.  The docks were brand new, the swimming pool had just been completed, and some little bungalows were getting their finishing touches.  Translation-we won’t be able to afford this place next year.  We walked the length of Spanish Wells Island(St Georges Cay), and were surprised by the level of cleanliness in general, and the tidy appearance of the houses in particular.  Spanish Wells was first colonized in the early 1630’s by the Eleutherian Adventurers (see Puritans seeking religious freedom).  In fact, the word Eleuthera has its’ roots in the Greek word for “freedom.” Spanish Wells is also the home of the Bahamas fishing fleet. SW provides the majority of the Bahamian lobster for the Bahamas.  Back at home, the brand-new tiki bar at the marina was rockin’ that night, but we just chilled on the boat.  We had a big day planned for the 23rd, taking the ferry over to Harbour Island, the first seat of government in the Bahamas colony, and exploring for the day. The island aka Briland(for the many Briland roosters that wander) was shaped by Loyalist Governor of Virginia, the honorable John Murray(1786-1797). He fled to the Bahamas after being awarded the title of Lord Dunmore, Governor of the Bahamas.

Gotta tell you a quick story, ‘cause it’s still bugging me.  We went into the 8’x8’ ferry office to buy our tickets, and there was an old guy sitting there, apparently just hangin’ around.  As we talked to the nice lady about the ferry, he heard that we were Americans, and wanted to start preaching politics.  He informed us that he was British, but had lived in the Bahamas for sixty years.  Well……he informed us that most of the English really didn’t care for Americans, and thought that we should butt out of their internal affairs (the U.K. is currently thinking about leaving the E.U.).  I’m a tolerant guy, so I let him go on, but when he finally hit a nerve, and our tickets had been purchased, I told him that our experience with the French and English was just the opposite.  Most of the folks in his generation that had any common sense were extremely grateful to the U.S. for bailing their asses out of two World Wars, and that if it hadn’t been for us, he would be speaking German now.  (Door nearly breaks off its’ hinges as Tucks exit stage left).  When we returned that evening, I apologized to the ferry lady for slamming her door.  She said, “Let me tell you something.  He came to the Bahamas in 1942, married a Bahamian woman, and has been here ever since”.  Hmmmmh, can you say “draft dodger”?

Our excursion to Harbour Island was a delight.  As the ferry threaded its’ way through “The Devil’s Backbone”, amongst the numerous shallow coral heads, we plotted the course on the IPad, so we could duplicate it when we left for Great Abaco.  We walked the streets of town, checking out the old buildings, then headed to the pink sand beach, where we bar-hopped for snacks and sips.  Back to Spanish, we hot-footed it up to Food Fair so that we could provision some fresh produce before they closed at 17h00.  Returning to the boat, we found that Gary and his wife Charlene were our new neighbors.  They were having some electrical problems, so I gave him a hand.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get him fixed, but did get the problem diagnosed so that he could order the necessary parts.  Well……Suzanne busted the mold for my Birthday dinner this year.  No spaghetti and meatballs.  She surprised me with a favorite that we hadn’t had since our last trip to Italy-Vitello D’ Tonnato.  OMG!  The diet really took a hit as we washed down the creamy goodness and pasta with green peas with a great bottle of white.  Every now and then, I forget how lucky I am that she still puts up with me after nearly 38 years.

Okay,  see ya’

 

Crappy internet, so I'll add pics later

Hey!

Boy, do I have a sore butt!  I know, T.M.I.  We hopped on our bikes today after a hiatus of, maybe 3 months.  We thought Lighthouse Beach at the south end of Eleuthera, was about 8 miles away.  Well…….  When we hit 8 miles, we were still in the interior of the island.  Another mile got us to the beginning of the 3.2 mile, brutal, rocky, rutted, washed-out road (?) out to the light.  Boy, was it worth it! (Check out the pics).  We shared our peanut butter sandwich, fruit, and nuts on the deserted beach which is purported to be one of the most beautiful in the world.  We walked a couple of miles on the sugar-fine beach, helping ourselves to the bounty of sand dollars that had washed up during the previous week of heavy winds.  Returning home, we paid the rent at the marina office, polished some stainless steel, and planned our trip up the coast of Eleuthera and to the Abacos.  Our plan is to start tomorrow (the 21rst) morning.

So…let’s back up.  After the kids left, we headed back to Emerald Bay Marina to get the laundry done and clean up the rest of the boat.  A one-day stay was all it took, and we were off to Cat Island again, this time to Arthur’s Town, boyhood home of the actor Sidney Poitier.  We were off the dock at 06h52, and were anchor down at Arthur’s Town eleven hours later.  The trip across the Sound was gorgeous-sunny, 1’ seas, 10 knot winds, 80 degrees.  We laid on the roof of the pilothouse while Otto drove.  Freezers were full, so no lines wet.  At Cat, we were the only boat anchored in the bay.  Thought it’d be a quiet night-not so much.  Julia’s restaurant had a little tiki hut by the beach, and the locals were ROCKIN’!  The music was great, and they were done by 23h00, so it saved us having to pick out tunes on the boat.  We dropped the tender in the morning to go ashore.  It took awhile to find a spot to land, as the shore was pretty rocky, and there were no docks.  Finally, we found a little sandy beach about a half mile south of town.  It wasn’t ideal, but we put out a stern anchor and tied the bow to a tree on shore, holding the boat off.  Arthur’s was a sleepy little village.  I’m guessin’ not more than 50 people living there.  We stopped at Cocktails by the Sea, and had a Coke under the palapa while we talked to Grammy.  She was about 80-ish, and had lived in A Town her whole life.  At one time, it had been booming.  Had a big pier where the “mail boat” came in, bringing supplies for the rest of the coast.  A big storm took out the dock, it was rebuilt elsewhere, and the town slowly spiraled down.  Now, she says, only old people live there.  No jobs, the kids move away to find work.  (sounds a lot like Newfoundland).  She also gave us her take on the current government, and the local gossip.  Suz and I didn’t verify this, but she told us that Bahamians couldn’t vote unless they had a passport or a birth certificate.  The only place to get these official documents is in Nassau.  Most people here are so poor that they never get off the island.  Soooo…..  Most can’t vote.  Interesting.  We moved on, and visited with Emily Rolle, who had a small shack on the edge of town where she sold straw goods that she had made.  I spotted a couple of recycled liquor bottles with a red liquid in them, and asked her what it was.  “21 Gun Salute”.  “Okay, so what’s that?”  “You know, when de man geds a bit oweder, he jus’ get’s a bit tired, you know?  He jus’ needs a bit o’ peppin’ up.  Dis be makin’ him feel a bit frisky again, so makin’ wife happy”.  “So, are you saying that it puts a little lead in his pencil?”  Big smile.  “Yeah, dat’s it!”  So the conversation goes on, and we discover that Emily’s Mom taught her how to make this stuff, and she got quite a name for herself.  A guy on Great Exuma who made “Salute” got together with her, and they combined recipes.  Same for another guy who hailed from New Providence.  Her potion is now the culmination of many years’ experience times three.  Some doctor in Great Britain tested it, and says it works better than Viagra.  Emily asked if we wanted some.  The Admiral told her in no uncertain terms that the boat was too small already.  We bought some baskets.  We figured that we had exhausted A Town, so at 14h46 we were up anchor, and on our way to Half Moon Cay, formerly known as Little Salvador.  Holland America Cruise Lines bought the island, and renamed it Half Moon.  There was some chatter on the internet about whether or not private vessels were allowed to anchor there, with a story of a sailboat being chased out.  Suz called “Veda L”, another Krogen, that we had passed several days earlier for the scoop.  They were based out of Eleuthera, so we figured that they’d know.  They said “no problem”.  “We just call on the VHF and ask permission.  Never had a problem”.  We arrived, we called, we got no answer, so we were anchor down by 17h50.  The anchorage was a little surgey, but with the flopper stopper down, we had a comfortable night.  At 09h30, the “Carnival Glory” came around the point, and dropped anchor about a half mile away, ready to disgorge her thousands of passengers for a day of sun and fun on the island.  By 09h52, we were on our way, lines wet.

Between Half Moon and Eleuthera, there is an underwater ridge that is from 10-15 fathoms deep.  On the Atlantic side, and on the Exuma Sound side of the ridge, the depths drop to hundreds of fathoms. This is where the big fish like to hunt.  This shallow ridge also causes the waves to pile up as they roll in from the Atlantic.  The forecast was for 2’-4’ seas, but when we got to the Bridge Ridge, they were a tad bigger.  Suz was driving, and as I walked up to the pilothouse after tending the lines, she exclaimed “Oh, shit!”  She was looking over her right shoulder towards the ridge.  A wave was rolling toward us that I couldn’t see over.  In fact, I was looking at the junction of the middle and upper third of the wave from where I stood, nearly 13 feet above the water.  All we could do was hang on, as it rolled under our starboard beam.  It was a real “cupboard cleaner”.  Dishes flew out of the cabinets, the countertop was cleared, fruit was rolling around the floor, and the furniture was stacked against the port wall.  I went below to get things in order, and no sooner than I got back to the pilothouse, one of the reels was screamin’ out line.  “Dammit!  What do you want me to do?"  I figured that if we headed downsea, I wouldn’t get thrown out of the cockpit if we encountered another biggerthanaverage wave.  Well, that Wahoo jumped once, threw the hook, and was on his merry way.  I rebaited, got the line back in.  Meanwhile, Suzanne had adopted the strategy of tacking back and forth, so the waves weren’t on the beam.  Never saw another wave that big, most were in the 6’-8’ range, with a few 10 footers thrown in.  We got two more bites, but were only able to boat a smallish (32”) Mahi.  As we were pulling in the lines a few miles south of the Davis Harbor entrance, we passed by a Bahamas Defense Force cutter.  She was at anchor over a bank, in about 60’ of water.  “What the……." Suz grabbed the binocs to check them out.  They were bottom fishing!  Three guys were leaning over the rail, handlining.  As we watched, one of them hauled in a good-sized Red Snapper, threw him in the cooler.  Well, I guess they gotta eat too.

Davis Harbour reminded us of “Old Florida” and the marina at Great Harbour, in the Berry Islands.  It was pretty cozy, and we immediately felt right at home.  First day, the 18th, was occupied with chores.  The Girl needed a good scrubbin’ after her salt water bath.  The internet here is lightning fast compared to the past month or so, so I was able to finally get some pictures up.  The next day, we rented a car from Mr. Theophilus Morley, who brought the car to the harbor.  As I drove him back to his home, he told me about his kids and grandkids.  I was losing count, so I asked him how many kids he had.  “21, and 49 grandchildren”.  “No way”.  “Well, I don’t drink, and I don’t smoke, but when I was a young man, I had a lot of girlfriends”.  I guess so.  Suz and I drove up the island, visiting The Island School, Rock Sound, Governor’s Harbor, the blue hole, and various sights along the way, returning to the Girl around dinnertime.

This is getting’ kinda long-winded, so I’ll tell you about The Island School later.

-Next Time

Hello Strangers,

It’s been a loooong time since we’ve had decent internet, so I’ll try to cram some pictures up into the ether, and get caught up on the last few weeks. It’s the 18th of April, and the kids have come and gone.

Jeremy, Jodi and Mikaela arrived right on time, as Suz and I waited for their taxi at “Red Boone”  in Georgetown. We all had the $10 Burger and a Beer special with a couple of ala carte brewskies.  After that, the obligatory stroll through the few gift shops and knick knack shacks there.  The weather window was open, so the next morning, we ran the ten hours up to Cambridge Cay and grabbed a mooring.  Unfortunately, little Miss M had a case of the Mal de Mer, but was a trooper all the way.  The next day, Jody and Mikaela had their first snorkel lesson from Yours Truly before we set out to explore the grotto at Rocky Dundas.  There, we swam through the narrow passageway (exposed only at low tide) into the large cave with a hole in the roof, the sun pouring through and illuminating the interior.  Next, we dinghied to Compass cay, where we hiked to “Rachel’s Bubble”, a frothy tidal pool there.  Back to the girl for lunch, then the 2 mile dinghy ride to “The Aquarium” for a little reef snorkel.  On the way home, we checked out the sunken plane off the coast of Pasture Cay, then beached the tender in search of iguanas-none were found.  Next day took us to Staniel Cay, where we saw the swimming pigs, then dinghied to “Thunderball Grotto”, so named because some scenes from a James Bond movie were filmed there.  The current was fierce, but our new snorkelers kicked its’ butt.  One group of touristas was leaving as we arrived, and we had the place to ourselves for a half hour before the next group of revelers arrived-sweet.  On the half hour ride back to “Alizann”, the winds came up, and the blue/black skies opened.  As our friend Andy would describe it, “A real turd floater.” All we could do is laugh, as we drove into the 30 knot winds, sunglasses on, to keep the driving rain from tenderizing our eyeballs.  The plan was to shower and return to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for drinks, but squall after squall nixed that program.  We had a spirited night of cards instead.  Ohhhhh……weather.  We had planned on a stop at Rudder and Lee Stocking Cays on our way back to Georgetown for their plane, but increasing seas and winds dictated a change in plans.  The Admiral and I did NOT want the vacation to end on a seasick note, so we opted for a run to Emerald Bay Marina before the weather, where we could all spend a day poolside, with cocktails from the tiki hut.  It turned out to be a great call, we missed some sights, but we made up for it by snagging 2 Mahi, a Wahoo, and a ‘cuda.  The girls, avid freshwater fishers, were ecstatic, even though a shark hit one of our Mahi’s taking off the tail while reeling in.  It did, however, make it a lot easier to bring in.  The pool day was perfect.  For $50/head we were allowed to use the facilities at Grand Isle Resort, and enjoyed the day, with lunch and cocktails around the pool.

April 7th was turnaround day.  We all got up early.  Availed ourselves of the free laundry facilities at Emerald Bay for towels, sheets, etc., and cleaned the Girl inside and out.  Having rented a car for the day, we dropped J,J,&M off at the airport, and picked Ali and Ben up, as they had flown in on the same plane that was carrying the rest of our gang out-how convenient.  Same program.  Into Georgetown for beer, burgers, and the tourist thing, then back to the boat by way of “Prime Meats”, a specialty butcher shop.  Besides gorgeous cuts of meat, the butcher there makes a chicken salad that I’ve been lusting after since our stop there a couple of weeks previously.  The weather permitting, we had decided to run the “Boatguest Circuit” again, so we headed back to Cambridge Cay, then work our way back to Georgetown.  There, we hiked the Cay, and got Ben (another first time snorkeler) hooked.  Struck out on iguanas again, but hey, it’s all in the process.  Next, it was Staniel Cay, where we DID get to have docktails at the yacht Club after hiking the south end.  We departed Staniel on the 11th, headed for Farmer’s Cay for the evening.  Along the way, we anchored off Black Point on Great Guana Cay in order to stop at “Lorraine’s Mom’s” house to see if she had any fresh bread for us.  Jackpot!  Raisin Cinnamon Coconut, and just plain old coconut loaves were warm out of the oven.  We made our way down to Farmer’s Cay by late afternoon, anticipating a good day of fishing on our way to Georgetown the following day, as we had been skunked on our way to Cambridge.  We weren’t disappointed.  We boated 3 Mahi, and lost the biggest one (which Ben had fought for over 30 minutes) due to my inability to get him gaffed when he came alongside the boat.  He straightened out the hook (literally), and swam off.  I’m pretty sure I heard him laughing over my curses.  Our videographer discovered the challenges of filming with rolling seas, and left her breakfast on the deck.  BUT….she did get some good footage of her hubby reelin’ in the lunkers.  Once at anchor outside Georgetown, I found out how handy it is to have a Chef as a son-in-law.  Together, we had those fishies butchered in no time, sharing a few techniques along the way.  A spirited game of cards ended their last night with us.  (By the way, the Wells family kicked the Tuck family’s butts for the week).  Seems to be a pattern here.  Maybe we’ll play dominoes next visit.

April 12th.  The taxi doors weren’t even closed, and I was feeling pretty empty.  We were so lucky to have our kids with us, but I wanted more.  Strange, how when they’re growing up, you take it for granted that they’ll always be there as you chase the almighty dollar.  Then, they’re gone, and you wonder where all that time went.

I’ll do the 13th-18th later.

-Just Me and Ma for awhile.

n

March 22nd.  Another cloudy day was forecast, and around 10h00, we were off to shore to pick up our bread.  Bad news, Darlene had run out of propane, and was an hour or so behind. No worries, we walked over to “Hidden Treasure”, where Denise was just opening, and put in our order for dinner.  Lobster for Suz, and Grilled Mahi for me.  Later, Darlene fed us some Bahamian pea soup while we waited for our bread.  That evening, we were the only guests at “Hidden Treasure”.  Denise, the owner, sat with us and told us that she had just moved back to Cat Island from Nassau, where she had worked as a banker for the past 19 years.  She and her husband own a home there, and in fact, he is still there, working as a chef in a very upscale resort.  He has to work for a few more years, but she was tired of the traffic, sirens, congestion, and “pop, pop, pop” (I assume gunfire) at night in Nassau.  They’ll have a long-distance relationship until he is able to retire.  In the meantime, she’s growing a business on her childhood home of Cat.

Wednesday morning and the overcast was thinning giving the promise of a sunny day.  Perfect.  We planned on walking to the Hermitage atop Mt. Alvernia, the highest point in the Bahamas, snappin’ along the way.  So, here’s the scoop on Father Jerome.  Born in England in1876, John Cecil Hawes trained as an architect, and later became an Anglican priest.  After the hurricane of 1908, he was sent by the Bishop to the Bahamas, where he became known as Father Jerome, to rebuild damaged churches.  The seven churches that he rebuilt on Long Island all bear his unique stamp, with thick stone walls and barrel vaulted roofs.  After Long Island, he settled on Deadman’s Cay, where he ministered to the locals.  He then took a “sabbatical” (my words), and acted as a wagon driver, monk, horse breeder, and missionary, before converting to Catholicism and becoming a Catholic priest.  Upon returning to the Bahamas, he built many catholic churches, as well as the St. Augustine monastery in Nassau.  Nearing retirement, he arrived in New Bight, on Cat Island where he built his last church, Holy Redeemer.  There, he also selected a site atop a rocky outcropping on the crest of Comer Hill(the highest spot in the Bahamas at 206 feet), as the spot for his retirement home, known as the Hermitage.  There, he lived in isolation until his death in 1956.  We had a good hike up to the top, and snapped quite a few along the way.  The place had been deserted since the late 50’s, but was still in remarkably good condition.  Unlike many places we have visited around the world, there was no graffiti or evidence of vandalism.  We were able to walk through the residence and chapel, which commanded a360-degree view of the island and surrounding sea-very cool.  We were the only people there, and with the wind whistling around the structure, it wasn’t difficult to put yourself back in time and imagine life here.  On the way down, we descended a very steep, rocky trail connecting sculptures depicting the stations of the cross.  Pretty apropos for the week before Easter.  The road leading back to the beach was bordered by fields that had obviously been under cultivation at one time, as they were bordered by rock walls.  The fields were now overrun with low scrub, and a few scattered papaya trees.  We ventured off, and picked a few papayas, and found some cabbages, tomatoes, and goat peppers, all growing wild.  With some effort, we found a few ripe veggies that weren’t rotten and stashed them in our backpacks. 

Back at the dinghy, we were dismayed to find it high and dry on the beach.  In spite of our having anchored it with the wind blowing it away from the beach, the current had brought it back to the sand (on a falling tide!).  #$!@%!!.  The transponder for the depth sounder had snapped off, breaking the wire, and making it useless.  There was no way that we were moving the little boat (at 750#), so I got a lesson in Conch cleaning from Kotti, who worked at Hidden Treasure, and had a beer.  Later, with some additional help, we got the tender wet again.

Thursday, the 24th, we took a 9 hour ride over 2’-4’ seas under an overcast sky.  No fishies, the dry spell continued.  We passed through Rudder Cut, and turned north to drop anchor in the lee of Rudder Cay, a private island marked with “No Trespassing” signs wherever you might think of going ashore.  We stayed here until the 26th, and got some good pictures inside a grotto looking back at the Girl.  We also visited a stainless steel sculpture of a mermaid sitting at a grand piano, commissioned by David Copperfield, and anchored to the sea floor in the neighboring bay.  What?  Go figure!  (Our trusty little waterproof camera got flooded a couple of months ago, but Jeremy is bringing a new one on the 1st, so if we go back, I’ll snap a couple).

Saturday, the 26th, we headed for Lee Stocking Island, where we planned to stay for a few days.  Again, no fish caught-this was getting old.  We dropped anchor just off a Caribbean Marine Research station, abandoned in 2011.  We explored there for a few days, both on land and sea.  The station reminded me a little bit of the abandoned outports in Newfoundland.  Looked like everyone stopped working and just left.  The station was quite extensive, spread out over the entire north end of the island, and we walked through each and every building there.  One afternoon, while sitting on the back porch reading, Suz spotted a couple of locals in a skiff paddling to shore around a half mile away.  Long story short, they had run out of gas.  After we brought them some gas, the motor wouldn’t start.  We ended up towing them a couple of miles to Children’s Cay.  They promised to take us lobstering the next morning as a gesture of thanks, but never showed up.  Undeterred, we searched out some coral heads on our own, and Suz actually spotted a crawfish (spiny lobster).  He was tucked back into a hole, with no chance for a shot, but we eventually teased him out onto his “porch”.  One shot.  Right between the eyes, and we had our first bug.  Happy Birthday, Suzanne.

It was almost kinda creepy.  I woke up last night with the feeling that something was wrong.  As the mists of sleep cleared from my brain, I realized that it was quiet.  The wind had completely died.  Our forecast looked good, and I thought “Tomorrow’s gonna be a good travel day”.  By 05h45 the wind was back, and the dinghy was thumpin’ against the side of the Girl, torn between following the tidal current or the wind.  I got up and retied her, then watched the stars slowly blink out as nautical twilight gave way to dawn.  By 08h11 the dinghy was stowed, the anchor up, and we were underway under sunny skies and an 11 knot breeze.  As we exited the cut, we found the seas running at about 2’-4’ on a 7 second interval.  As soon as we cleared the 30 meter contour, the lines were wet.  By 09h32, the drought was over.  Fish on!  It felt like a biggie, and it was.  That 42”, 16# Mahi took 200-300 yards of line off the reel before I could even think of gaining some ground on him.  Before we finally had him next to the boat, he had jumped a half dozen times, sunlight reflecting off his blue green hide, violently trying to shake the hook.  He still wasn’t done, fighting furiously when he saw the boat, and before Suz could get him gaffed, we had visions of losing him like the one a couple of weeks previously.  “I can’t get ‘im, I can’t get ‘im………Got him!”  Suz hauled up the gaff, and dropped our prize to the cockpit sole, where he promptly shook the hook in about 3 flops.  Lines back in the water, and within 15 minutes somebody had stripped our other Ballyhoo off the hooks.  I had only rigged 2, so we trailed artificial lures the rest of the way to Conch Cut near Georgetown, and got nuthin’.  By the time we had the anchor down at Stocking Cay, across from Georgetown at 13h11 (exactly 5 hours after we had left), the laundry was done, and our battery bank was fully charged.  We got the dude filleted, and some boatchores done, but mostly enjoyed the breezy sunny day.

Bigtime pre-visitor boatchores tomorrow.  Jeremy, Jody and Mikaela arrive on the 1st.

-Later

Pages

Captain's Log

Morning, Morning.

Hurricane season is over!!  Doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be any more storms, just means that our insurance company will allow us to move back up into the “hurricane latitudes”.  Yesterday, we left Port Louis Marina in St. George, taking a short shakedown cruise around the south end of Grenada to Woburn Bay.  The short trip allowed us to try out the Girls’ systems which have all been asleep for the past months while at the marina.  Everybody but the weather station at the top of the mast behaved well.  We can live with a funky wind speed indicator.  We spent the night in Woburn, picking up our last meat order from Gilles, the butcher/owner of Whisper Cove Marina and restaurant.  Our order was short a couple of pork tenderloins.  Gilles said that if we could stay until Friday, we could get our tenderloins, as he was “killing the animal” on Thursday.  We’ll survive without-grabbed a couple of cutlets instead.  This morning, we were off the hook by 07h14.  By 08h15, we were at the dropoff on the windward (Atlantic) side of Grenada, heading North with 2 lines wet.  So far, (at 10h00) not a single nibble.  On the bright side, we’ve had no hydraulic overheats, and all systems running well over 2’-4’ beam seas.  The plan is to stop at Ronde Island, near Kick ‘Em Jenny (the underwater volcano) for lunch.  If the anchorage isn’t too rolly, we’ll stay the night.  Otherwise, we’ll continue north to Carriacou.

Here I am, a couple of days later.  The anchorage at Ronde Island was really pretty.  There was a fair bit of swell coming around the corner, but it wasn’t anything that the flopperstoppers couldn’t handle.  We ran up to Sandy Island, off Carriacou the next morning.  We’ve been on a national Park mooring ball here for the past two days, our bow pointed toward the town of Hillsborough, some 2 miles away.  The prevailing winds have us positioned beautifully.  Sunset off the back porch, with the full moon rising over the bow shortly after.  Off to our port lies Sandy Island, its’ white beach 400 yards distant.  There are only 10 mooring balls here, and anchoring is not allowed.  Besides ourselves, there have been 3 boats here every day.  The other 6 balls turn over daily.  It’s really nice to be out of the commercial harbor and into clean water.  We were able to run our watermaker for the first time in months.  We held our breaths as we awakened the slumbering beast, and to our relief, she purred along smoothly.  Chores have been held to a minimum, although I’m trying to reclaim the lines that ran off Alizann’s bow to the submerged mooring in Port Louis.  Even though we had the divers scrub them monthly, they came up covered in soft and hard growth.  We soaked them in buckets of bleach solution for two days, then trailed them off the back of the boat after scrubbing them a foot at a time, and scraping the barnacles off.  Another bleach bath, and they still smell DISGUSTING!  They’re hanging in the sun now-we’ll see.  Ed on “Slowdown” says that he just throws them away after a season-now I know why.

On Friday, we walked on the beach, relaxed, and started to get reacquainted with life on the water.  Yesterday, we had an early morning snorkel off the northeast tip of the island, finding a nice patch of healthy coral and a diversity of fish and invertebrates.  In the afternoon, we took a dinghy ride over to Hillsborough and booked a 2 tank dive with “Deefer Divers” for tomorrow morning (Monday).  We’re hoping to get a few of our new favorite dinner fish (Lionfish).

The dive with Deefer Divers was a “Red Carpet” experience.  They were expecting a dive club from Illinois the next day, booking their boats for the rest of the week.  As such, the full staff was with us (for 6 divers), I assume to get them all on the same page before the arrival of the twenty-some-odd divers from the States.  We had the divemasters from Deefer, the divemaster and new manager from Arawak Divers (Deefer’s sister shop in Tyrell Bay), two boat captains, and one of the owners of both dive shops.  Suzanne and I dove with Mike, the new manager of Arawak (soon to be Carriacou Divers), and his mate, Bob.  They both turned out to be super “spotters”.  In addition to bagging a half dozen Lionfish, we saw uncounted lobsters, 9 Manta Rays (groups of 2, 3, and 4), several Stingrays, a field of Garden Eels, a Nurse Shark, a school of Squid, a few free-swimming and hidey-hole ensconced Moray Eels, and the usual suspects of coral reef habitats

We had planned to head out after the morning dive, but it was a beautiful day, so we just hung out on the Girl and enjoyed the post-dive “glow”.   Midafternoon, “Exclusive” (everybody in the islands has a nickname) and his twin boys came by with fresh lobster.  Sure, why not?  The tail went on the grill with a couple of steaks.  No red pop on board (we’ll wait ‘till the French islands to restock), but the Champaign washed it all down satisfactorily.

Morning came soon enough.  We dropped the dinghy, headed in to town and cleared out with Customs and Immigration.  We walked the streets a bit, and checked out the grocery stores, deciding that this definitely was not a provisioning spot on any return trip.  We’ll certainly be back for an encore with the dive operation here, though.  We’ve heard that Sister’s Rock is a primo dive, so we’ll try to time our stop to coincide with a Neap tide, as the current out there is ferocious during a Spring tide (it was a full moon this weekend).

Off to Union Island in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).  JT Pro Kiteboarding Center is calling us back.

-Later

 

Good Morning,

Our last 2 weeks in Grenada passed quickly.  We woke up the propulsion engine and generator after everybody got new impellers in their raw water pumps.  The watermaker remained an unknown, as there was no way that we’d run it in this commercial harbor with its many chemical and biologic pollutants.  We were now texting and emailing Clarke every day, with very little progress being made on our awning.  One night, while we were at Grenada Brewing Company with a bunch of other cruisers, Clarke’s name came up.  Oooooh Boy!  Lotsa vitriol.  Seems that he used to do a great job, but as of this year, we heard the same story from 4 other boats-delays, excuses, and projects not delivered to agreed-upon specifications.  All the stories ended the same way, with his customers threatening to trash him on social media, and feeling anger instead of satisfaction.  Let’s just say that we got an awning a few days before our departure.  We’re in the process of modifying it so that it’ll work.  Unfortunately, our sewing machine took a hike after the first seam, so the 2 of us have been sewing by hand.  Somewhere down the line, we’ll find a professional to remake it properly.

One night, a bunch of us went to “Patrick’s” restaurant.  We enjoyed Momma’s cooking, served family-style.  Will served us 13 different Grenadian dishes, including Green Papaya salad, Green Banana salad, Mashed Pumpkin, grilled Breadfruit, curried Goat, Cucumber fritters, Lambi (Conch), sweet & sour fish, etc. and etc……….., so we all had a nice “taste of Grenada”, even tho’ Manicou (Possum) and Iguana were not on the menu that night.  Another evening, the crew of “Alizann” hosted a “Goodbye” cocktail party for Dan and Melissa (“Slow Dancing”) for a dozen of their friends before they departed for Bonaire.  Suzanne just had to cook one more dinner for Ron.  He requested Shepherd’s Pie.  In 88 degree weather?  Really?  Poor guy came down with a bad cold, so Suz delivered his comfort food to his boat.  I have to admit, the Pie was good (With the air-conditioning cranking, and an NFL game on cable TV).

We got our last delivery from “Fast Manicou”, a.k.a. John Hovan.  He came to “Alizann”, picked up our empty propane tank, SodaStream CO2 bottles, and returned them to us full, as well as bringing a couple of cases of Coke (diet and otherwise), and a case of French Champagne (for $25EC/bottle), all at considerably lower prices than we could find around town.

Soon enough, all was made ready and it was time to go.

-Later

Good Day,

Sooo…. Grenada has a very active chapter of “Hash House Harriers”.  (The H3 is an international group of non-competitive runners, commonly described as “drinkers with a running problem”.  The group originated in the Federated Malay States in 1938 by some British colonial officers to combat post weekend hangovers).  Anyway, instead of avoiding this group, as we had been sagely advised (by one who had dislocated a shoulder, and another who had broken an ankle while Hashing with this group), we decided to join them in celebrating the Grenada chapters’ 1,000th Hash.  We took a cab up to the north end of Grenada, found the location, and signed up for the course that was right in the middle of the 7 trail choices of varying difficulty.  Our trail led us up and down through the tropical rain forest.  In places, the trail was so steep that you had to pull yourself along on brush growing alongside the trail(?).  In others you had to hold on for dear life as you slid downhill on Teflon-slick mud (which covered the trail from start to finish-Hey, it’s rainy season, and we were up north).  The trail crossed several streams, and in the muddy lowlands, many a shoe was sucked off the unsuspecting participant.  After a couple of muddy, sweaty hours, we finished unscathed, except for a bit of mud (especially our backsides).  The beer was cold and cheap (3 for $12EC).  Afterwards we enjoyed the festivities, including music and fun with the nearly 400 other participants.  Unfortunately, they ran out of tee shirts in my size.  Suz was able to score one, though.  The hour-and-a-half ride home was looonnng!

We continued to check boat projects off the list, while enjoying the company of our fellow cruisers at Port Louis.  Suz and I fell into a routine of heading over to the salt water pool in the early evenings to get in some much-needed exercise swimming laps.  Of course, it helped us cool off after the hot, humid days here in Grenada.  Our awning project remained unfinished, but hey, we had a few more weeks ‘till departure.

Saturday, the 14th of October.  We were headed over to Eco Dive with our friend, Ron by 08h00.  This was the last day of the first annual Dive Pure Grenada week, a week-long celebration of scuba diving in Grenada.  We headed out to the reefs up north to hunt Lionfish.  These beautiful, but nasty little guys are the bane of reef fish from South America all the way north to Maine.  They are an invasive species, native to the South Pacific, and have no natural predators in this hemisphere.  Voracious eaters, they can wipe out whole populations of reef fish, especially the juveniles.  Our mission, along with divers from eight other dive operators here is to bag as many of these bad boys as possible.  We’ll take our catch to Coconuts, a restaurant on Grand Anse beach, where Pat’s crew will cook them up for our dinner tonight.  We dropped over the side, and as we passed through 95 feet, we realized that maybe were in the wrong spot, as the reef was supposed to be at 45’-50’.  After this inauspicious start, the boat dropped us in the right spot.  With Suzanne doing the spotting, Ron and I speared around 15 fish.  The second dive site was much more productive for us-25 fish.  As I was jamming one of my victims into our carrier, I caught one of his spines in my thumb.  Didn’t hurt much at first, but as the venom spread, the feeling of intense heat spread down to my second knuckle.  Yeeouch!!  After an hour or so, it subsided with no ill effects.  (As a protective mechanism, the Lionfish has some 18 venomous spines, located in front of their dorsal, pectoral, and anal fins.  They don’t attack with them, but if one happens to catch you, it’ll really get your attention.  If you mount an allergic reaction, it can be fatal) When we surfaced from the second dive, the wind had come up and whipped the sea surface into a froth.  It rained sideways all the way home, and for a change, we were all cold.  The weigh-in told the tale-our six shooters had netted a little over 80 pounds of fish.  All told, the 9 boats participating took 401 pounds of tasty Lionfish.  That evening, we were joined by other divers at Coconuts for the closing presentations of the first annual dive week.  The assistant minister of tourism gave a short talk, declaring the week a success.  Awards were given to the winners of the underwater photography contest as the photo entries streamed along on a large screen.  Afterwards, live music was provided by a local band, “Solid.” The chefs prepared the fish as a curry, baked with butter and garlic, as a Creole stew, and breaded with panko and deep-fried.  Our table ordered all styles and shared.  The light, white filets lent themselves well to all the preparations, and washed down well with Rhum Punch.

On Monday morning, Dan, Melissa, and Margrite joined us on the number 1 bus to St. George to visit the fort .  Besides changing hands (France and Great Britain) several times in the 18th and 19th centuries, the fort has 20th century significance.  It was there, in 1983, that the Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, and seven others in his government were executed by the military and other factions of his party, precipitating the intervention by the United States.  Of course, after touring the fort, then the Grenada National Museum, we had to drop by the Chocolate Museum for chocolate shakes.  It was really hot outside!  We got a line on lunch from a local kid, who said that “Rin’s” had good, cheap Roti.  We found the place, but peering through the locked door, it didn’t look promising-basically a 7’x10’ space with a card table in the middle.  No signage, but we suspected that someone might show up at Noon, 10 minutes away.  Sure enough, at around ten after, a couple came down the sidewalk carrying a couple of insulated boxes.  After unlocking the door and plunking the boxes down, they were open for business.  The fare included Chicken, Veggie, Beef or Fish Roti.  Suzanne and I both ordered Chicken.  We wandered down to the water and found some picnic tables in a square by the cruise ship dock.  Eating the Roti was a challenge, as bones were included, but for $10EC ($3.70US), we felt like we did okay.

-Later

The flight back went smoothly, arriving in Grenada at 14h30 after changing planes in Miami.  The Girl was happy to have us back, although she had been well taken care of in our absence.  Randolph and the guys from Island Dreams had kept her clean inside and out, as well as checking on the dehumidifier/air conditioning.  Brett Fairhead’s guys kept her bottom clean, diving her once a month.

The next morning, it was “hammer time”.  Our shipping container had avoided the hurricanes, and Tropical Shipping notified us that it was in the warehouse at the port.  Suzanne contacted Ricky Telesford, our shipping agent, to get things moving through Customs.  To her surprise, he said that everything was already in order, and that he could drive his truck up to the boat and deliver the next business day.  (Just lettin’ you know that this didn’t happen without plenty of effort by the Admiral.  She had emailed receipts for each and every item in the container-a hundred or so, to Ricky weeks before.  Even so, friends had told us that it might take days/weeks to move through Customs).  None of the welding had been started, even though we had met with the welder before we left.  None of the canvas work had been started.  Hey, we’re in the islands.  Problem is, the end of Hurricane Season is the busy time for these guys (which is why we gave them jobs in the Summer).  Several calls, texts, emails to each of them, and we got responses from both, who assured us that they were “just getting around to it” (more or less).  We got in a quick provisioning trip to Foodland, and joined Paul and Sue (Suzanna Aqui, our marina neighbors) for dinner at Victory’s, the marina restaurant, for Barbeque Night.  Over the weekend, we joined Ron, and his wife, Judy for a snorkel trip to the underwater sculpture park, the reef off the Grand Anse beach, and lunch at the L’Anse aux Pines resort.  Ron is the manager at Island Water World, the local boat supply shop, and has the use of the company boat, a 20’ rigid inflatable with a 60 horse outboard.  Very nice for getting from here to there.  Nick, the welder, was true to his word.  His guys showed up on Monday to get going on the welding jobs.  They got the plates for the awning supports started, and said they’d be back the following day to remove the old solar panels.  Suz and I thought we’d keep them focused on the skill job, telling them that we’d have the panels off by the time that they arrived the next day.  All in all, the welding was done well, although it wasn’t the smoothest project that we’ve ever done.  Lots of poor communication and failed deadlines, but completed by the first week of October.  (In his defense, I think that Nick is an artist, not a businessman.)  The canvas guy, Clarke, -not so much.  Lots of no-shows, then he’d show for a few minutes right before dark, take a few measurements, and promise to see us the next day, only to no-show.  (no worries, we thought, not leaving for another month)  Well……the project dragged on.  Lots of excuses (never his fault) meeting at the kids school, car broke down, lost my phone, and on and on.  Would have fired him, but had prepaid him several $K for materials and some labor.

Suz and I got the new solar panels up, and I got the worst sunburn of my life.  I just went out one morning in my boxers to take a quick measurement or two.  Five hours later, as the last panel was going up, one of our neighbors, Torie, walked by and informed me that she could see my red back from the street.  I blistered and bled for nearly three weeks-what a dummy!  We pulled wire, and Nick fabricated a bracket for our new WIFI booster antenna which I installed at the top of our mast (Yes, I still hate heights-coulda’ used a couple Xanax).

Over the next few weeks, we spent a lot of time socializing with fellow cruisers on our dock, and seeing the sights on Grenada:

Saturday is “Market Day” in St. George, and a gang from the marina usually bussed in for fresh veggies and fish.  (to say nothing of a “breakfast beer” for Ken and Dan.)

Sundays started with Mass at the cathedral (never less than 2 hours) followed by Brunch at Whisper Cove marina with any of our neighbors that Suzanne could motivate.  We usually had a bus full.  Afternoons were occupied by the NFL (yes, El Cheapo popped for cable so he could catch some football games).  On alternate Sundays, we’d head over to Eco Dive on Grand Anse for a two-tank dive, usually with Ron (Judy had to return to Florida to work-long distance marriage works for them for now.  She’ll retire next year).  Post dive lunch at Umbrellas was always a treat.

Wednesday was “Pizza Night” at the marina restaurant.

Thursday was “Chicken Night” at Whisper Cove

Suz and I had heard from several sources that Cutty’s Tour was the way to see Grenada, so we signed up, talking Rob and Cindy, aboard “Aventura”, to come along.  Cutty picked us up in his air-conditioned van, and we were off on our day-long adventure.  By the time that the day was done, we had driven nearly the length of the island, visiting Grenada Chocolate Factory, Belmont Estate, Anandale waterfall, River Antoine rum distillery (where we had lunch in their restaurant), a nutmeg depot, and stopping numerous times to identify and/or taste local fruits and vegetables.

True to form, Suzanne cooked.  For Paul and Sue one night, she created a fantastic curry chicken stew that I had been whining about for weeks (having read about it in Ann Vanderhoof’s book “Spice Necklace”).  Another night, it was stuffed, grilled avocado for Torie and Gary. Still another, a special request from Ron put Suzanne’s famous enchiladas on the menu.

I passed on the girls shopping trip, but I understand that Suz, Melissa, and Magrite did some damage in St. George.

Besides the canvas from Clarke’s Upholstery, projects were falling off the “To Do” list daily.  Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s still the “Rainy Season” so any outside activities were punctuated regularly by torrential rainfalls, creating humidity readings in excess of 90% to go along with 89 degree temperatures.

That’s enough for now (maybe too much).

-Later

 

 

So……A quick Summer synopsis, ‘cause I’m guessin’ you don’t wanna hear about our life on dirt: Alison and Ben bought a house in Ann Arbor last fall, and we saw it for the first time this Summer. Over the course of our Stateside visit, we stayed with them several times, getting back to our roots in the old college town, and helping with a few home-improvement projects. We drove to Charleston for our week at the beach on Isle of Palms for Suzanne’s family’s annual reunion. Both of our kids made it too, so life was good. (even tho’ Ali wasn’t joining in cocktail hour…..Hmmmh!). Spent the front and back sides of that trip in Asheville, with Mike, Sheila (Suz’s sister) and Casey, (Suzanne’s Mom) Found the house to be in great shape after our nine-month absence. Put 2 coats of varnish on the entire interior (White Cedar walls and ceilings). Figure that it’s the last time that we’ll have to do that, since the last time was 20 years ago. Cut up some dead trees that had fallen during the Winter. Had a new outdrive put on the 30 year old runabout (croaked immediately after launching). Enjoyed a jam-packed social calendar, nurturing old relationships with many dear friends. Bill and Lauren (Seastar- St. Lawrence and Newfoundland cruise), Mark and Christine (pals from Michigan), and the crazies from Chicago (our kid’s pals) came for sleepovers and kayaking/canoeing trips down the river. Spending time with Jody and Andy (longtime Michigan pals, and crew on the St. Lawrence and the Bahamas) was long overdue, but again, there wasn’t enough of it. On a sad note, our good friend and neighbor, Kim, diagnosed while were back the previous Summer, lost his battle with Multiple Myeloma just before our return. We had all hoped that he would make it to the Summer, when Suz and I would act as crew so that he and his wife, Cyndy could take one last cruise on their Benetau sailboat, “Endless Dream”. We make plans-God laughs. Although Kim and Cyndy have a loving and supporting family, it’s sometimes good to have some “outsiders” for a different perspective. We like to think that we helped in our own small way. Also, in the Spring, we got the news that our other upnorth friends/neighbors, married for some 30 years had split. Lots of evenings spent with Jayne and Cyndi, trying to be good listeners. We happened to be there at the right time for both of them. (of course, as a Male, I just wanted to FIX things). Hoped that just being there helped in some small way. We needed to send boatstuff to Grenada that was difficult to buy there (including new SunPower solar panels), so made a quick drive to Florida to pack a container, which would be shipped by Tropical Shipping. We packed our rental SUV with boat things- oil, coolant, another flopperstopper bird, computer, bottom paint, WIFI booster, spare parts, some favorite foods, etc. & etc. Drove down on Monday, picked up our new panels (oh yeah, they were too big for the SUV, so we had to rent a truck), packed our container on Tuesday, (container wasn’t full, so we went shopping at Walmart for hurricane-relief supplies to fill it), and drove back to Michigan on Wednesday. (Whoa! Getting’ too old for 44 hours of driving in 72). Bam! Time to go home. Back to Ali and Ben’s. University of Michigan game against Air Force. Tailgating with old friends, Gary, Lynn, Dick and Jan. Ben drives us to the airport at 04h00 to catch our plane south. Oh….That “no Cocktail” thing? The Admiral and I will be Grandparents in late February. Nash Joseph is scheduled to make his debut in late February. Whew! Makes me tired just writin’ it. -Later

Pages