Gotta Smile!

Gotta Smile!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Limin (Relaxing) in Grenada

November 17 - December 6, 2014

A - Marina, B - St Georges Bay, C - Woburn Bay, Clark's Court

Time for John and Gail to fly home to Minnesota.

As a boating friend down here likes to say, "boaters plans are made in jello".  She is right.  They wiggle and jiggle and never seem to stand up.  And so it goes with our plan to travel to Tobago and Trinidad.  After completing our provisioning on Friday, the four of us sat down to discuss the weather and schedule.  We all agreed that going to Tobago and Trinidad was putting us in a box that might be a mistake for several reasons.  The weather is stormy and the Christmas winds have started early this year.  Nine foot waves are predicted.  When Brian loaded the course from Grenada to Tobago, it was 100 miles.  That is a long trip in questionable weather and big waves.  Our daughter and grandchildren (8 & 5) are coming back with us after Christmas.  We don't want to subject them to a trip that long in what could be equally bad conditions.  And, two days after they leave friends are arriving in Grenada to join us on board.  We vowed, when we began this trip, we would never knowingly put ourselves in a dangerous position in order to meet a schedule.  Soooo, all of that boils down to a month and a half in Grenada and no trip to Tobago and Trinidad.  Hey, no problem -- life is good in the islands!    
Pulling out of Port Louis Marina on our way to an

After six nights in the marina, we left the comfort of electricity, bus service, the bakery and the IGA and headed to the local anchorages.  The south end of Grenada is a series of bays that are well protected from waves and wind.  Protection is what we were looking for.  The hot humid air and frequent rain storms are a constant reminder that we are in the tropics.  

The local fishing fleet in front of downtown St Georges.

Brian has spent every free minute for the past four weeks making repairs, fixing and replacing parts and systems.  We think leaving Gotta Smile on the hard for four months in this heat took it's toll on her.  It looks like everything is under control again.  Now if he would just put his feet up and relax!     

Before we could drop our anchor the sky went from
bright blue to stormy gray.  We could see the wall
of pounding rain quickly moving towards us.  A few
minutes later the sky was blue again.
Life in the tropics.  

A dingy ride into the town of St Georges:
To get into town we walked through
this narrow tunnel that pedestrians
 share with cars.

No trip into town is complete without a bakery stop!

Walking the commercial fishing docks

We left St Georges Bay and headed to Clark's Court, Woburn Bay. It is a quieter location with very little commercial traffic.  
Thanksgiving dinner 'island style'.
Baked chicken breasts with stuffing
and gravy in one pan. A simplified
 rendition of our traditional dinner.
Another beautiful sunset......

Touring our anchorage.

This private island (in our bay) can be rented for
$500,000 a week.  You can bring 49 of your best
friends along for no additional cost!
A huge fireworks display at the
resort and right off our bow.
Thank you, wealthy people!!!
Happy Birthday, Brian!
A chocolate cheese cake that tasted
much better than it photographed.
Gotta smile -- We're lovin the ride!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Grenada, Bequia and Islands In Between

November 2 - 13, 2014

42 - Grenada, 41 - Carriacou, 37 - Bequia, 38 - Mayreau
39 - Tobago Cays, 40 - Union Island, 41 - Carriacou
42 - Grenada
Gail and John had never visited this part of the Caribbean so we decided to back track and show them one of our favorite islands while we made a few other stops on the way.  Bequia was our destination.  That was about a 90 mile trip from Grenada. 

This is a small portion of the road we
climbed on our way to the Little Dipper.
The rest is around the bend.
Before leaving Grenada we stopped for a night in Clarks Court Bay.  After a dingy ride to explore the bay, we began looking for a restaurant.  We quickly found that most of the restaurants are closed on Monday.  The bartender at the Whisper Cove Marina made a call to Joan at The Little Dipper.  She said she would make us lunch.  He gave us directions  and sent us off on a trail through the woods that took us to a road.  Upon reaching the road it was a "5 minute" walk to the cafe.  He neglected to say that it was all up hill -- up a very steep hill!  The residents of the islands walk a lot. I'm sure that the hills mean nothing to them.  It's a terrain that they are used to.  Well, for me in high 80 degree temperatures and high humidity it was a challenge.  Never the less all four of us arrived for lunch and were treated to a meal of local favorites.  Even vegetables like eggplant were prepared in a way that we didn't recognize.  The lunch was very good and Joan was delightful.       
A beautiful view and you are looking at half of
this tiny restaurant.
Joan -- the owner, chef and waitress.

Below this water lives Kick Em Jenny.  Carriacou
is in the background.

Between Grenada and Carriacou is, what appears to be, an unremarkable body of water.  However, our charts show a 1.5 kilometer wide exclusion zone near the northern end of Grenada.  This is the underwater home of Kick Em Jenny, an active underwater volcano.  If a boat is in that cautionary circle and the volcano erupts, it will loose it's buoyancy and sink.  Enough said -- we avoided the zone.        

Relaxing at the Slipway as we anticipate dinner.

Our trip to Carriacou had been 48 miles of turbulent water.  And, of course, we did NOT have following seas.  We arrived in time to drop the dingy in Tyrrel Bay and tour the area.  Normally, we prefer to eat lunch in restaurants and be back to the boat before dark.  I guess we will never be confused with the wild party crowd.  We did break our rule that night to go to the Slipway Restaurant.  All four of us ordered the lobster tail dinner.  It was fabulous!!!  The next day we faced another 48 miles to Bequia, so we called it an early night.

Admirality Bay
Bequia looked as beautiful as we remembered.  It is small enough to have the untouched island atmosphere and yet some interesting shopping and restaurants.  Most of our provisioning was done at the legendary Doris Fresh Foods although we did purchase produce from the small stands on main street.  Richard, the whale bone carver, had his unassuming card table set up near the dingy dock along with other crafts people.  Two good lunches were enjoyed: first at the Gingerbread House and the second at L'Auberge Des Grenadines.  We still count Bequia among our favorites.            
A paved path along the bay.
Walking to the Gingerbread House.
A view of the bay from lunch.

L'Auberge Des Grenadines was used in a segment
with Anthony Bourdain.  I had a fabulous sandwich:
bacon, lobster and tomato!  No pride -- I was licking
my fingers to get every morsel.  Another beautiful
view of the bay from our table.  


A gorgeous sunset for our last night in Bequia.

We awoke Saturday to find a cruise ship in the
bay.  While I am happy for the entrepreneurs of
Bequia, I am sad to think that this perfect little
island could change due to too much exposure.
Did I say "GRAY DAY"!  
'The plan' was to leave Bequia on Saturday morning.  Two things happened Friday night to change that plan:  our house batteries were not charging properly and it began to pour rain.  This is the first day since we left Miami last year that has been a total wash out. The sky is gray and the rain comes in heavy waves.  We call it a free boat wash!  Rain doesn't stop us from traveling but high winds do.  Brian worked his magic on the batteries.  He equalized them which was a full day's job.  The good news is they are holding a charge again.  

Trying to make the most of a quiet day, we flagged Da Rock for a taxi ride back to L'Auberge Des Grenadines for lunch.  Da Rock is quite the character.  He cruises the bay shirtless flexing his muscles while he waits for business.  His real name is Shelton Morgan but Da Rock just seems more appropriate. Gail and I had a good time flexing our muscles and acting like silly school girls while we waited for our ride.  

Guess who?  I should also add -- he is a
very nice person.  We had an interesting
conversation with him about island life 
and how you must be careful not to marry
 your cousin! 

Our taxi picking us up after lunch.

The blue sky broke through offering us a beautiful
day.  Saline Bay -- so much prettier in person.  A
perfect palm lined beach with clear blue water.   

With the batteries behaving much better, we left Bequia on Sunday morning.  It was a rough ride to Mayreau (6 - 8 foot waves with a few 10 footers).  Saline Bay gave us good protection from the wind and swells.  It poured rain for the most of the night insuring that the boat was once again salt free.  Everyone participated in preparing a delicious dinner:  pork tenderloin grilled with a lingonberry sauce and roasted vegetables.  Monday, turned out to be a day trip to Tobago Cays.  We thought we would spend the night, but it was too rolly.  Instead we came back to Mayreau after a beautiful afternoon swimming and exploring the area in our dingy.   

The water felt like a bathtub.  It was heavenly!

Tobago Cays -- on the other side of the reef a small
island, a lot of ocean and then Africa...nothing else.
Downtown Clifton on Union Island.
The Barracuda Restaurant was recently opened by
a couple from Italy that decided life was getting a
bit boring.  Not any more!  Our lunch was very good.  

Another day trip took us to Union Island.  We thought we might stay there, but once again it was too rolly to be comfortable.  After walking around town, buying vegetables and having lunch we made a quick exit to Carriacou.  It was only 14 miles.  One of the great things about retracing our steps is we get to enjoy some of our favorite restaurants for a second time.  The Slipway in Tyrell Bay is on that elite list! 

Happy Island is built on a reef out of discarded conch
Janti created it by hand and solved two
problems:  disposal of conch shells on the local
beach and a location for his bar/restaurant.   

Gotta smile -- we're loviin the ride!

Our side trip to Bequia was completed as we arrived back at the Port Louis Marina in Grenada.  Friday will be a busy day as we prepare for our departure to Tobago.  The weather will be checked and rechecked, diesel will be delivered in the morning and then it is off to the grocery, bakery and marine store for final provisioning.  If the weather still looks good, we will leave for Tobago a half hour before dawn on Saturday morning.  It sure would be nice to have following seas for our 75 mile trip!       

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Shake Your Body

October 29 - November 1, 2014
42 - Grenada  The large green mass is Venezuela.
There is an outbreak of a mosquito
borne disease in the islands,
Chikungunya.  Gail and John came
prepared with DEET and some
lovely head gear.  

John and Gail arrived on time in Grenada, unfortunately, Gail’s luggage was not on the plane.  Since there is only one flight per day to Grenada from Miami, we had to wait 24 hours to see if her stuff was going to join her on vacation.  They had already had a difficult day with flights being changed.  We all breathed a huge sigh of relief when her bag arrived the next night.  

On Thursday we found a very nice grocery.  If you haven’t traveled down here, you can’t imagine what a thrill it is to find a well stocked clean grocery with many of the brands that you are used to. Now, I’m not saying that it was gourmet caliber, but I was one happy camper when I walked in the front door.  Throughout the islands we have found that IGA can usually be counted on  to have the best selection.
The wet cocoa beans in the pod.  Beans are
harvested between November and March.

Belmont Estates had been recommended to us by several people.  It is the home of The Grenada Chocolate Company (an organic chocolate that can now be found at Whole Foods in the USA).  Since we had a car for two more days, we all agreed that traveling to the other end of the island would be an interesting trip.  To get there we took the road that cuts through the middle of the island.  Grenada is quite mountainous (1900+ feet).  The road was very narrow with 
one switchback after another.  Giant ferns, wild banana trees and colorful 
Fermenting bins where the beans stay for 5 - 8 days.
Every 2 days they are shoveled into a neighboring
bin to insure even fermenting.  
foliage lined the road. Men are constantly working with their machetes to cut back the wild growth.  After two hours we arrived at the estate.  It is a beautifully landscaped property.  We took a short tour to learn how raw cocoa beans are processed into chocolate.   Next, there was a short talk about other fruits that grow on the island.  OK, my brain was on overload from all of this information — it was time for lunch!  The dining room with it's high thatched ceiling and wide open walls was delightful.  The temperature must have dropped 15 degrees when we sat down and relaxed. After an excellent lunch, it was

time to head home.  The driver and
Drying trays, that can slide under the building in
case of rain, are the next step.  The beans are on the
trays for 5 - 8 days.  Every 30 minutes during the
day, people 'walk the cocoa' to turn and separate
the beans.  
navigator decided that we should take the coastal road back to the marina. It was nice to follow the coast and the scenery was beautiful.  The road was again very narrow and crowded, since school had let out.  We moved to the edge so a septic pumping truck could pass and hit an oversized curb that was obscured by tall grass.  Luckily we were only moving about 10 miles per hour.  Still, the impact was severe, giving all four of us a big jolt.  An off duty policeman was following the truck and came to our rescue.  He helped Brian move the car out of traffic, changed the tire (which involved getting his jack after the one in our car didn’t work), and then determined that the car was unsafe for the four of us.  He insisted that we get in his car and follow him as he drove our disabled car.  When we were in a safe location, he called the rental company for a tow
'Dancing the cocoa'  to polish the beans
truck.  What a great young man!!!  And, what a blessing it was to have him take charge and assess the situation.  Besides the blown tire, the tie rod was bent and the front bumper was loose.  It sure wasn’t the way we thought the day would end, but we were thankful that it wasn’t worse.  Detective Peters, we will talk about your kindness for years as we tell the story of our day exploring Grenada.   

Lunch time

Delivering Chocolate Monkey drinks.  A combination
of banana, chocolate and ice cream.

The estate was originally founded by a
French family in the 1600's as a
coffee and sugar plantation.  It has only
had four owners.
This bell was cast in the 1600's and has
always hung on this tree.  

The curb we hit.
Assessing the damage.
Policeman Peters -- Our hero!

Riding with the locals
Outdoor and indoor markets
Saturday we found another rental car and after lunch made a second visit to the grocery store.  When Brian picked up the car he ran errands that included ordering a new water heater.  Ours is beginning to leak.  John, Gail and I walked to the local bakery and then to the bus stop.  We took the bus (really a large van) to the local market downtown.  It is a very busy place with vendors, shoppers and people just hanging out and visiting with friends.  There was lots of local color.  On the bus ride back to the marina, they squeezed me into a seat that should accommodate three people.  Unfortunately I was the fourth and one very large woman was taking more than her share of the bench seat.  When someone from the back of the bus wants to get off, those in the jump seats must get off to let them pass through.  As I was getting back on board, I heard the music play “come on and shake your body”.  Before I took my seat I pointed to Gail and sang out “come on and shake your body”!  You would have thought it was the funniest thing ever.  The whole bus erupted into laughter and contininued to
laugh all of the way to our stop! Now I'm stuck with that verse in my head..... 

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!