Well, another month has passed us by. There have been some really good times and there have been a few things that have not been so good, these being…. mosquitoes and bugs of all shapes and sizes…. more mosquitoes and bugs of all shapes and sizes and… even more mosquitoes and bugs of all shapes and sizes! Mike counted five different types of bites on his legs and, compared to me, he doesn’t get bitten.
There has also been increasingly hot and humid weather which has been heaven to the mosquitoes and bugs of all shapes and sizes but hell to us. I think that what we have learnt from this is that we will think really carefully about how best to spend hurricane season in the future. This being our first experience of hurricane season and wanting to do it right by the insurance we have come out of the water for the whole four months. Whilst many other cruisers do this too, the occupants of the yachts return to their homeland – or at least disappear off somewhere – for most, if not all, of the summer months. Others, in our view the most sensible, stay on the water. OK, so there have been two hurricanes which have hit Grenada in the past and we certainly would not like to experience that. But, there is really good warning – at least a week – and, from Grenada’s south coast anchorages it is only a 36 hour sail to Trinidad which is below the hurricane belt. Many of our friends have stayed on the water which allows them to remain relatively bug free, to have a breeze for most of the time and to attend the many and varied social activities in and around the major anchorages. With hindsight we think that the best option for us would have been to book and pay for the cradle for the full four months [cradle required by Insurance and four month minimum period required by the yard] but to only come out for about two months to complete the work that can only be done on land. Although we have been getting on with jobs… and more about that later… we have not been working flat out by any means. What we will have achieved over the four months we could probably have done in two. Ah well, it’s live and learn as we have said before.
Anyway, having had a little moan I think it’s time I told you about some of the really good things we have done.
First of all we did another round the island trip. You may remember from a post at the beginning of the year that when Phil and Emma visited Grenada in January we went on a car trip for the day and really enjoyed seeing most of the island and visiting rum and nutmeg factories etc. Well, this time some friends organised a taxi trip for ten of us and although we again visited the Crater Lake and the River Antoine Distillery, the rest of the day was new to us and we also saw the crater lake from a different viewpoint and had lunch at the distillery but no organised tour as it was out of season.
We started our day at Fort Frederick on Richmond Hill just outside of St Georges [the capital]. From there both sides of the island are visible [and lovely views they were too] and we were treated to a very welcoming speech from “Alice in Wonderland”.
We can only assume that she means that Grenada is Wonderland as there were no sightings of any mad hatters, red queens or cheshire cats. We did get a good view of the prison which houses all convicts from the islands of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. We were reliably informed that following Hurricane Ivan all the convicts escaped and then they all just came back again. This may have been something to do with the fact that it was one of the few buildings left standing and, being a farm as well, had food available!
“Cutty” our taxi driver was, like all taxi drivers, very knowledgeable about the plant life. He took us to a smallholding owned by the man at the left of the photograph, Cutty being the guy in the centre. We were treated to various nutmeg products, cocoa and fruits.
We also visited Denis Noel at his family home in the centre of Grenada. In his past life he was a member of the Grenadian Diplomatic Corps and had a role [not sure what] in bringing a new regime to Grenada following the 1983 coup and the subsequent US invasion. As an agriculturalist he has been part of a multi award winning Grenadian team at several Chelsea Flower shows and he now produces, amongst other things, a spray called “Nut Med” for relief of pain to aching muscles. He was a very gracious gentleman and was delighted to show us his house and his display of various photographs of him with UK royalty both at the flower show and when he received his OBE.
And of course everyone wanted to see the monkeys at the lakeside but we were told that it was mating season and most of them had other things on their minds. Fortunately for us, this monkey preferred a banana which he caught just as I took his photo.
We have also been to the Grenada Carnival. You are possibly getting a bit fed up of Carnival tales now – as this is our third – but they have all been very different. There are three main parts to the Grenada Carnival. First of all there is “Jab Jab” or “J’ouvert” which starts at about 4am on the Monday and goes on until about 11am – though when we went into the town at 2pm there were still some people staggering around. We didn’t think we could see this part of the proceedings but found out later that a friend had gone into St Georges at 6am that morning by bus as they run all night during carnival. “Jab Jab” is an opportunity to drink, smoke and dance in the streets covered in either used motor oil or paint. It mainly attracts younger people and probably about 75/25 men to women. Some cruiser friends [those we had been on the taxi ride with] were on a yacht berthed in Port Louis for the Carnival weekend and they took part and said it was great fun. Ah well…..there is always next time.
And so, part two – the “Prettymas” which more or less gives you the clue that in the main it’s pretty women in elaborate costumes. This takes place from about 3pm to 6pm. We watched it from a small bar/restaurant along the route. Had we known that there was a small “stage” at the start of the route by Port Louis Marina we would probably have made our way there as each “troupe” had to parade onto the stage and dance before setting off in procession. This would probably have been good to see.
And finally, part three of the carnival started at around 9pm and went on to the early hours of Tuesday and we joined in. Mike and Jackie who, albeit with the help of several others, run the “Hashes”, which I told you about last time, organised for people to take part in the carnival if they wanted. ….and we wanted.
So, in bright yellow Carib T-shirts with flashing headbands, necklaces and lightsticks we were part of the Carib group. In case you haven’t worked it out [and I am sure many of you will] Carib is the local beer. Can you see Mike being part of a carnival group that doesn’t have beer??? And, to drink our [free – well included in the price of the t-shirt] beer we also had day-glo flashing tankards. We certainly had a great evening and have even bought the “Mas 2012 music CD” to relive the experience whenever we want. Bet you can’t wait to visit us for a re-run!!!!!
And so, that was Carnival. I think there was another parade on the Tuesday afternoon but since we didn’t get back to the boat until the early hours of Tuesday morning we gave that a miss.
You might be wondering by now whether we have actually done any work in August. Well, we have, and one fairly major thing has been hull preparation. Obviously we have done antifouling before, but this time Mike took much more care over the rubbing down of the old antifoul and removing all traces of barnacles. This is no mean feat as any boat owner will know and, being hot and sweaty anyway there was no way Mike was going to wear a boiler suit. So, he ended up looking as if he had enjoyed his own Jab Jab session!
Now, you may be wondering why the title of this blog is about living in a tent. Well, when it rains it really rains and because the weather is so sticky, there was no way we could manage being stuck below for any time – never mind hours at a time – and so we have constructed our very own makeshift green tarpaulin ten which goes from the mast back to the stern arch and basically from guard rail to guard rail. It has been brilliant. Not only can we stay in the cockpit during rainstorms, eat “outside” and watch films on the computer in the evenings regardless of weather conditions, we can also keep our main cabin [bedroom] hatch open all night. Luxury! We are now convinced that the bimini/tent which I spoke of in the previous post is going to be a good design as it is going to do everything this green tent does but [hopefully] look a lot smarter. At least, given what it is going to cost in comparison to the tarpaulin it had better look smarter!
Of course antifoul has to be replaced and as we are now also beginning to suffer “cruiser drop” – i.e. the boat is heavier and sits lower in the water – we are having to prime what used to be the waterline so that the antifoul can come further up the hull. But the actual antifouling will obviously be the last job we do before relaunch so in the meantime, having watched and learnt from more experienced cruisers, we have used a solution called “on and off” to clean the hull. This is rather caustic stuff – but effective, particularly on stubborn rust stains and on the brown goo residue of warm water weeds. Mike then spent almost three days polishing the hull and says he will probably do it again in October.
I haven’t been idle either. I decided to try my hand at varnishing and, having never done it before, started with the washboard. This seemed like a good starting point because it spends most of its time tucked away out of sight when we and others are on the boat and therefore, if it turned out to be a bad job it wouldn’t be on show! So, I have sanded and nitromorsed [I know that’s not a word] and varnished and sanded and varnished and sanded again etc etc. I think I am now onto coat number seven and, though I say it myself, it probably won’t need hiding away.
We have also bought another solar panel [second hand from our friends Shawna and Jon] who are upgrading their boat [Beausoleil] with 3 x 240 panels. Yes their boat is big and beautiful. Anyway both parties were happy with the price and we are now doubling our solar capacity. Of course this does mean we have to purchase a larger controller but the new one will allow us to expand further should we wish in the future. We don’t think we should need to as the present set up has served us very well and the new one should be more than enough. Solar is particularly useful in the Pacific, we are told, so this upgrade is actually us thinking in advance of ourselves. Now that makes a change doesn’t it! Of course, nothing is simple because to make room for the new panel we have had to take off the old panel to turn it around. But this is where I also came in useful as I seem to have the better head for heights. We are now wondering whether we need to run them in series or in parallel – and the various forums aren’t conclusive as there are pros and cons to both arrangements – but as our new controller has a read out and, as the new panel has enabled Mike to wire the set up so that it can run either way, we will just enter into a trial and error phase.
Now, you may think that we have missed some things in the UK during August – like the Olympics. Well, we haven’t. I don’t mean that we have seen very much on TV or anything but, Grenada won its first ever Gold Medal with Kirani James and there was great rejoicing. The day after he won the Gold the whole island was given an impromptu half day holiday and people were celebrating almost as much as they did for carnival. The Hashers organised a special “Kiranival” hash and we were all encouraged to go along wearing a gold medal made from whatever we could find and wear either gold clothing or the national colours. Well, we did our best!
A couple of friends we meet regularly at the hashes are two guys called Kevin and Jack. They are both sailing single handed and we first met up with them when we were anchored in Prickly Bay. Last week Jack’s girlfriend, Crystal from Guadaloupe, came to stay with him and we were invited for a meal. Mike was in his element with French sausage and Duck Confit and Roquefort cheese. Actually, it was like a little holiday for us – a night spent on the water with no mozzies. It was splendid.
The marina has a pleasant bar and we tend to go there on a couple of evenings each week and meet up with whoever else happens to be in the yard. Most recently that has included Phil and Monica [“Good Golly Miss Molly”], a UK couple who we have been hearing about for the past 6 months and who we have finally caught up with.
Once a week local organic farmers bring their produce. This is a relatively new thing but it seems to be popular and the standard of their fruit and veg is very high. We have had water nuts, starfruit, passion fruit, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, various herbs and there is plenty still to try. Many thanks to Sammy. Jenny and Gerald.