Sunday, February 24, 2013

12 Degrees North

After clearing out of St. Vinent and the Grenadines at Union Island, we sailed to Carriacou where we checked into Grenada.  Our plan to stay at Tyrrel Bay just one night turned into four days, but then our plans are never followed or even taken that seriously.  

From the looks of some of the boats in the bay, Tyrrel Bay is a place where a lot of cruisers arrive... and never leave.  And we can't really blame them. 

The place kind of grows on you with the beach bars; friendly people; and steel band music going most of the time, what's not to like?

But Grenada's other attraction is the Island of Grenada and more particularly South Grenada where there are several beautiful bays and the big town of St. Georges which we passed on our way south.

Observing the resort's wishes not to have yachties too close, we anchored 100 yards from a beautiful semi-circular white beach in Prickly Bay.  

Here we were able to find parts for several repairs and projects needed to keep Moonshadow running tip top, but also took in some sights of downtown St. Georges 

St. Georges has some of the oldest structures in the Caribbean and has a much different look than anyplace we'd seen so far.

Meanwhile back a Prickly Bay, the projects were taking too large a part of our lives so it was time to relax at the beach bar and just enjoy tropical paradise!

One of the boats anchored here was the 73' ketch Stormvogle.  As a 13 year old, John watched the two 73' ketches, Stormy and Big Ti (Tichonderoga), battle to the finish line off Diamond Head Light for first to finish honors in the 1965 Transpacific Yacht Race.  In Honolulu, it was big news because reported positions showed changing leads every day; then both boats had gear breakages; and that last day nobody knew who was in the lead.  From Diamond Head that night, first one then a second light appeared out on the horizon making their way to the finish but it wasn't until Big Ti sailed into the light from Diamond Head Lighthouse, that we all saw who'd won.  After sailing 2300 miles, Stormy finished 5 minutes 48 seconds behind.  We saw Big Ti in Nantucket earlier this year so it was a treat to see both of these legendary yachts still going almost 50 years later.

Next it was off to Clarkes Court Bay just 3 miles to the east where we finally caught up with San Diego Yacht Club friends Chick and Alexis Pyle aboard their Passport 45 Rigole'.  The Pyles are on their fifth season of cruising the Caribbean starting in Antigua where the boat waits out the hurricane season at a boatyard, then island hopping down to Grenada and back for 5-6 months each year.

It was fun having someone who knows the local area to suggest fun activities, like the dinghy concert we attended as part of the kickoff to the South Grenada Regatta Week.

Sadly, Raindancer, a beautiful varnished wooden schooner that was front and center for the dinghy concert went on the reef later that night while attempting to enter the narrow passage into Le Phare Bleu about a mile away.  Attempts to pull Rainbow free of the coral had to be abandoned as the old wooden boat began to break up.

Raindancer will now sit on the reef until nature takes her toll breaking up what was once a proud reminder of a past era.  She also serves a sober reminder of the importance of prudent decision making and careful seamanship.  

Even when navigating an area you know like the back of your hand, as the crew of Raindancer who've sailed her in Grenada for years have done, you only get one chance to do it right.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Birthday Boys

I was just hours late for being born on my Dad's 30th birthday, but we always celebrated together.  Last year I was in Oregon with my Dad and my two brothers to celebrate Dad's 90th, and my 60th.

This year we couldn't be further apart.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bequia Beckons

We had been to Bequia before, on a charter with San Diego friends, but we only stayed one night and somehow the charm of this place wasn't fully appreciated until this visit. This time, waiting for the return of our WiFi booster (which allows us to poach Internet while lounging aboard Moonshadow) from the repair shop in Massachusetts gave us time to explore Bequia and the more we saw the more we liked it.

We were also forced to dinghy ashore every day with iPads in zip lock baggies, buy a requisite beer ( or two...) from the bar with fast wifi, just to stay connected to the Internet world. After getting our daily wifi fix, we'd venture onto some more exploration of Bequia.

One such day we took a turn up from the harbor which lead up a very steep hill with a good view of Port Elizabeth. Look closely and you can see how long term parking restrictions are enforced!

Eventually, and with the help of a very nice young lady's kind offer of a ride, we made it to the Firefly Plantation where the view of the windward side of Bequia was only surpassed by the delicious refreshments we found there.

After the hike back to Moonshadow a swim was in order.

These little guys had the same idea.
We all wanted a closer look.

Another day, we hiked up a steep road to see if we could walk to the venue for the Bequia Music Fest featuring blues bands. Along the way, we found a great vista of Princess Margaret's Bay with Moonshadow anchored in the foreground. We also learned that a taxi to the Music Fest would make a lot more sense than hiking this very steep road in the dark.

Now here in the islands, a "taxi" is more likely a pickup truck with a canvas roof over vinyl seats in the truck bed.
It was fun to be breaking the California Vehicle Code so blatantly, but mostly we were glad to be out of the rain. On the dinghy ride in from Moonshadow we found ourselves in a giant downpour with rain and wind so hard we almost turned back for our masks and snorkels. By the time we reached the dinghy dock, we were laughing hysterically!

It was all worth it though. We dried out over dinner then walked down the road to "De Reef", the beachside bar where the Music Fest featuring several blues bands mostly imported from Britain played well into the morning hours.

Our WiFi booster finally showed up in Bequia so we found it was time to move along "down island" to explore more of the Windward Islands. Next stop was Mustique, a private island where the beautiful people like Mick Jagger and Tommy Hilfiger own homes. We had also visited Mustique before and drove around the island in a rented golf cart. This year the island was closed while some VIPs, who are evidently much more than just merely beautiful people, with enough VIPness to be able to close down an entire island just so others won't see them (or, perish the thought, photograph them), stayed over...translation: William and Kate.

We stayed aboard Moonshadow overnight and sailed on to Salt Whistle Bay on the island of Mayreau. We had a lazy sail downwind and once again appreciated our new Spectra genoa from North Sails. Look how obediently it hangs out without a spinnaker pole while sailing "wing and wing"!

Our efforts to have the island closed for our personal privacy went basically nowhere, possibly because the bay was already full of yachts.

But this is an ideal Caribbean setting where we commoners come to photograph trees...

...and beautiful people!

On a stroll down the beach we stopped where Deb saw a dress on the line that caught her attention. It turned out to be a dress Deb gave to one of the "boat boys" who helped with anchoring Moonshadow. Now, Moonshadow doesn't need no stink in' help anchoring, but the boat boys here offer to help and you repay their efforts with something. It's how they make a living and better than begging or stealing so we play the game. Deb asked if our boat boy had a girlfriend her size and when he said yes she gave him a dress she loved but didn't like the fit so never wore it. We had a good laugh seeing it on the line for sale.

From Salt Whistle Bay, our plans were to motor an hour south for lunch at the Palm Island Resort; then proceed 15 minutes on to Clifton Harbour on Union Island to clear Customs out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and finally motor another hour on to Carriacou Island to clear into Grenada.

Fifteen minutes into the trip, the engine wasn't developing high enough RPMs and finally quit. Fortunately it was early, calm and shallow enough to anchor. A combination of some previous odd fuel starvation issues with the generator and some fast detective work led us to discover the problem was fuel starvation caused by a faulty electric fuel pump. When the pump, which simply lifts the fuel from the tanks in the keel up to the engine room, was bypassed and after bleeding the engine, all was well.

Three and a half hours later we were back on our way to Palm Island where lunch was waiting and came with much needed Pain Killers!

George Backhus who sold Moonshadow to us had an expression we use a lot: "Our plans are carved in the sand at low tide".

Our engine adventure reminded us that George's expression is not just good policy, but also sometimes a fact of life for cruisers. And sometimes these events lead to unexpected pleasures, like putting off customs till the next day means having more time to just enjoy the beauty of the beach at Palm Island...

...and more time for shopping the open air vegetable and fruit stands on Union Island!