Gotta Smile!

Gotta Smile!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Back in the USA

June 15th - July 15th, 2014

It is beginning to feel like life on land is no more predictable than our life at sea.  We arrived in Miami on schedule at noon on the 15th.  Drove to Stuart where we spent five wonderful days visiting friends, eating in favorite restaurants and wandering marina docks.   




Next stop -- Jacksonville.  For those of you geographically challenged, like me,  Jacksonville is almost at the Georgia border.  Brian stumbled upon a Porsche Panamera that he loved (used).  After negotiating for it, the salesman found that it had sold the night before.  Brian was sooooo bummed......I had to watch him mope around for a whole day.  That night he found one very similar in Naples — 2010 with only 12,000 miles.  Saturday morning we threw everything in the car
Downtown Naples
and drive 360 miles to Naples.  Got there at 5:40, just in time to sign papers and grab the manuals.  
They closed at 6.  Monday morning we picked checks up at the bank (which was not as simple as it should have been — is it ever?) and got the car.  Brian flew back to Naples for the BMW and drove it to St Louis where it will stay for the summer.  It will be our marina car for the next few years while we travel on Gotta Smile. 



Jacksonville Beach:  the water isn't as blue and the
beaches aren't as deserted, but the sand still feels
great.  
Back in Jacksonville Brian was lucky to get an appointment at Mayo.  He had been having kidney stone pain for the last few weeks. They decided the stone was too large to pass.  Surgery was scheduled for Thursday.  Thursday night in excruciating pain we were back at the emergency room.  Friday morning another visit to the doctor's office where we were told that he had to stay until Monday to make sure all was good.  Monday, after two more exams and a short conference, he was finally released. 


We brought wax lips and mustaches for the kids
and explained that they were a favorite when we
were kids.  


St Louis, where our daughter, Jennifer, lives with her family, was a two day drive.  We arrived to family chaos.  Steve and his family had arrived on June 30th.  We got there on the 1st.  Our four grandchildren are between 5 and 8 years old -- a very active age.  After living on the boat for 6 months, just the two of us, it is a jolt to be in a house with eight other people.  Still, it is a huge blessing to have everyone together.  Especially since it only happens a couple of times a year.  
The Smillie Girls






Jennifer's house is always like Grand Central Station.  Steve and his family left on the 3rd of July.  Friends from Afton that now live in St Louis came over for the 4th.  On the 7th friends from Arizona arrived for a few days.  In the midst of this Brian and Ian flew to Miami.  Brian to bring the BMW north and Ian on business.  We know their friends and enjoy time with them.            
The slide is always a favorite.  Now it has become
a competitive sport.  



















Christopher, Jennifer and the Boy Scouts carry a
huge American flag in the 4th of July parade.  




So much for a relaxing visit back home.  Most of the chaos has been self induced.  No complaints.  We love being back in the States -- the land of excess.  





   
Midway fun and fireworks at the local park.



























Greg and Erin taking JAC and Christopher for a walk.




















Looking for treasures on a nature hike with Grandma.


The spectacular St Louis Basilica.
Beautiful mosaics shimmer in the sunlight.  























Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!







We discovered a super sized smiley face at the
Laumeier Sculpture Park in St Louis.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Grenada

June 8 - 15, 2014

It is difficult for us to believe that we have made it to Grenada and it is the middle of June.  Where has the time gone and where have we been???  We have had such a great adventure:  learned a lot, visited so many beautiful places, met interesting people and stretched ourselves physically and mentally.  After almost 7 months of island hopping we are on overload.  We really can't remember where we were two weeks ago without checking the blog, calendar or Brian's log.  It is definitely time to take a break and come back refreshed.  Oh, and just as surprising, after 2885 miles of full time togetherness, Brian and I are still enjoying each other's company!  


Two men on shore and one in a dingy to accomplish
a Mediterranean docking.  Or in our case: one on
shore, one in a dingy and one leaping from dock
to boat!
We arrived at Port Louis Marina on Sunday and did our first Mediterranean docking.  Thank, God, there were three competent men there to help us.  Mediterranean docking has no finger slips.  The boat is attached to a mooring ball at the bow and the stern is tied to the dock.  It sounds simple enough, but impossible to do with a bow nine feet off the water and high winds.  The guys were great.  Derrick jumped on board from another boat to help me with the lines.  Without saying get out of my way, Lady, he gently took charge and secured us brilliantly.    





Shanti is painting one of the shops.  Standing on a
ladder, cutting in with a paint brush, ear buds in
and his hips never stopped moving.  A happy guy!
Once we were tied down, we couldn't wait to walk around this cute marina.  Our first stop was the marina office to check in.  I have been worrying about what I was going to do with all of the food in my freezer while we are gone for four months.  The electrical power is not very reliable in the islands.  Everyone told me NOT to leave it in my refrigerator.  They guaranteed that we would come back in October to find rotting food and a warm refrigerator.  Even though I thought it was silly to ask the office guys about renting freezer space, I asked.  I couldn't believe one of them had an extra refrigerator and would rent it to me for the cost of electricity!  Plus, he transported it and will bring it to the boat when we return.  
This is our man, Derrick.  Anything we needed he
knew where to find it.
What a relief!  


A series of shops and businesses lined the dockage area.  Each one was painted in  bright Caribbean colors.  Of course, there was a bakery that we had to visit for breakfast and a restaurant by the pool.
It is common to see men carrying 
machetes on all of the southern 
islands.  They are gardening tools
not a weapon. 









Leaving Port Louis Marina we toured St George's.
The fishing boats had just returned to port.
















Getting a gentle ride in the Travelift and a quick
cleaning.


On Wednesday we moved to Prickly Bay and anchored near Spice Island Marine.  The yard is highly rated for boat storage, but I would give them a below average grade for communication.  On Thursday Gotta Smile was gently lifted from the water, had her bottom power washed (or as one friend commented "used the boat bidet") and set in the yard well supported and looking very perky.  We stayed on board for two nights to finish projects and cleaning.  Michelle and Randy arrived in Prickly Bay just as we were coming to the marina.  They climbed the ladder for a visit on Friday and again on Saturday to say farewell.   
Hopefully we'll see them in Stuart in October before they take off for the ABC's and the Panama Canal.       

Sitting in the yard, ready to enjoy four months of
relaxation.  

This visit to Grenada was primarily a time to prepare for the haul out: cleaning, polishing and packing.  When we return in the Fall, we plan to explore the island in depth and then head down to Tobago.  Yes, another change in plans.  Tobago is supposed to be beautiful and Trinidad is a good place to resupply for the trip north.  We have waffled back and forth on this since the trip started and will probably continue to do so until the end of October.  Decisions, decisions....which beautiful island to go to next.  Life is tough!

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Carriacou

June 2 - 7, 2014
35 - Martinique,  36 - St Lucia,  37 - Bequia  38 - Mayreau,
39- Tobago Cays,   40 - Union Island,  41 - Carriacou
A - Tyrrel Bay,  B - Hillsborough
Carriacou, Petite Martinique and Grenada make up one country.  When we checked in on Tuesday it was our last customs and immigration stop until next Fall.  We are anchored in Tyrrel Bay.  It is well protected and has given us six comfortable days and nights.  
Barb & Chuck at Slipway for lunch.
For the first time on our travels south, we entered the bay to find  three  boats that we knew.  After so many months, totally on our own, it's nice to see familiar faces.  Moosetracks and Trudy Mae are here along with Barb and Chuck on Tussen Takk II, a 48 foot Krogen that was built the same year as ours.  Barb had given us lots of recommendations early in our trip, but we didn't meet until now.  When we returned after lunch, we noticed that our anchor had dragged about 75 feet.  This has never happened before. Thankfully, we were still a reasonable distance from all of the other boats.  When the anchor was pulled we found a very large piece of canvass wrapped around it.  Apparently, out of all the water, we managed to drop the anchor right on this hazard!
OK, we've seen sheep, goats, horses and chickens
in towns, but never cows!  These two were strolling
down main street of Tyrrrel  Bay.  We were the only
ones that thought it was a bit odd.  

















Small shops on the main street.
Wednesday we ventured out on the local buses again.  This was much easier than our experience in Martinique.  Although, again, I was in the middle of the street waving my arms like a windmill to get the driver's attention.  We went to Hillsborough, the biggest city on the island.  Like many of the islands it is underdeveloped with a very friendly population.  Most of the people make a living by farming, fishing or working on boats.  According to our guide book, "this is an island with over a hundred rum shops and only one gas station."
Patty's Deli is a gourmet shop and bakery.  Guess
who sampled the pastries?  




















Walking to the bus stop we found a market with
vendors selling produce and crafts.  

















The Mancheneel tree grows wild on most of the
islands south of the BVI.  It's fruit looks like a cross
between a small apple and a lime. The stems, leaves
and fruit contain a sap that is  extremely toxic.  It
causes  severe burns and can blind if it gets in the
eye.  Eating it can cause death.  Don't even stand
under one in a rain storm as the water that runs off
is highly 
corrosive.  Sounds pretty dangerous.  We
stopped to buy tomatoes from a woman in town and
where did she sit with her produce displayed?
 Under a Mancheneel tree!




















Lunch on the deck at the Lazy Turtle with a beautiful
view of the bay.








I just finished reading A Trip to the Beach.  It is about an American couple that fall in love with Anguilla and decide to open a restaurant there.  A quick read that gives insight into what it takes to run a business on a small underdeveloped island.  After our bus ride to Hillsborough, we came back to have lunch at The Lazy Turtle.  The couple that own the restaurant are from Jersey, one of the Channel Islands, (between England and France).  They have been here for eight months and are living a life that replicates the book.  They are charming, the food was delicious and the restaurant is classic Caribbean!  We can only say wonderful on all counts!
The view from the back of the bus.

Brian worked on our batteries for two days.  Isolating each battery, testing and desulfating them.  I don't really know what that means, but he's happy.  It seems to be giving them more life.

Our last bus ride was so successful, I convinced Brian we should try it again.  This time to Paradise Beach.  It was about half way back to Hillsborough.  I have been looking for Fidel's shops, which always seem to be in remote locations:  on beaches or small boats.  He sells original art by Caribbean artists.  I finally found one and it was definitely worth the effort.  They carry high quality pieces that have Caribbean style.  Now I know that they also have a shop at the Port Louis Marina in Granada.  I'm sure I will be checking out their inventory.   
The store is a cargo container that has had
windows and awnings added.  So cute!


           







Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!



The island is suffering from a draught.  May should
have been the start of the rainy season. So far -- no 
rain.  Rufus grows all of his own produce.  He told us that
he drips water on the plants.  That is all he can afford
 to use on his garden.  There are no wells or desalination 
facilities on the island.  All of the water is collected in 
cisterns from the rain.   

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Union Island

May 31 - June 1st, 2014
37 - Bequia,  38 - Mayreau   39 - The Tobago Cays,  40 - Union Island 

Union Island   ---   A - Clifton 

It was a beautiful two hour trip to Union island.  We had following seas, which was a real treat.  99% of our trip from Miami has been bouncing into the waves.  Following seas gently push us along.  The anchorage in Clifton was similar to Tobago Cays. We only had a reef protecting us from the swells of the ocean and no protection from the strong winds.  

  



Town Square
Downtown

Union Island is one of those slow moving underdeveloped islands.  There are lots of small businesses selling souvenirs, produce, clothing and baked goods.  The people were friendly and helpful.  If we stopped on the sidewalk to look around, someone would approach us and offer to direct us to what we were looking for.  Most of the time we were looking for Diet Coke!  I can't believe that we are totally out.  Not one can left on board.  After stopping in five or six stores we went to Gourmet Provisioning.  Right across the street from Lambi's, as we were instructed.  Not only did she have cold Diet Coke there were also chilled Snickers bars!  Life is good......  Forget the French bakeries and give me this favorite food combo.        
Speaking of bakeries, this was Brian's
favorite....on Union Island!











Cuter than Pizza Hut!












I asked this Rastafarian if I could take his
picture.  He gave me a smile and a blessing!

I wish his elaborate beard showed up better.

Sharks napping in the shallows.























This is Happy Island.  It took Janti 12 years to build
it with conch shells that had been discarded by local
fisherman.  Now he has built a funky bar/restaurant on
his self made island.  Wow, what ingenuity! Of course,
the Smillies had to visit!  This is one to remember.  



















Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mayreau and The Tobago Cays

May 28 - 30, 2014


Yesterday I sent an email to a Dutch couple that we met in Turks and Caicos.  They were the first couple we met on the trip that we clicked with -- friendly and fun.  We got together three times while our dockage overlapped.  Wilma and Abraham gave us great suggestions of what to see and where to stay all of the way to Granada.  That is why I was writing to them.  I wanted to thank them again for their input and tell them how helpful their notes have been to us.   When we saw them last, they were preparing to return to their home in Portugal, before moving their boat from Florida to New York to celebrate Abraham's 60th birthday with friends and family that were flying in.  This morning we got an email from Wilma that told us Brahm had died suddenly of a stroke.  We are heart broken.  Two ships cross paths and by the grace of God a special friendship occurs.  Abraham was a great life example:  retiring at 53, sailing Europe, South America and the islands for three years and a full agenda ahead of him.  Once more -- a reminder to not let planning and saving get in the way of living your dreams.
35 - Martinique,  36 - St Lucia,  37 - Bequia,  38 - Mayreau and Tobago Cays 
A -- Saline Bay,  B -- Salt Whistle Bay,  C -- Tobago Cays
Green indicates land and yellow indicates the reefs.
Mayreau Bay -- Just look at that beautiful water!
This beached freighter on rocks near Bequia, kept
the conversation going as we tried to imagine how
did this happened.

Mayreau is part of the Tobago Cays which are in the Grenadines.  The Grenadines include all of the islands from St Vincent to Union Island.  We decided to skip St Vincent checking in at Bequia and out at Union.  

We ordered banana bread from Yellow, one of the
boat boys, last night.  It arrived at 8 AM still warm
from the oven.






The trip to Mayreau was short but rough with waves reaching twelve feet for about an hour.  Brian and I both commented on how much braver we have become.  Our first stop was Salt Whistle Bay.  A lively little spot that is very picturesque with it's half-moon bay, rustic restaurants and shops.  Unfortunately, there were no over sized mooring balls and the seabed was too grassy for our anchor to catch.  We moved on to Saline Bay.  It is lovely, but does not have the personality of Salt Whistle. 

Thursday morning we made another attempt to anchor in Salt Whistle Bay.  Our boat boy, Yellow, was there to show us a spot where we could get a good bite in the sandy bottom.  It was a much easier maneuver as several boats had
Shouldn't this be a movie set? 
already left.  This is a fun location.  There are lots of boats in a small area, which is a little unnerving until you see that they are all well anchored and floating in a co-ordinated dance.  The dingy was launched and it was time to see what was on shore.  The sandy beach felt like pumice under our feet.  We had it mostly to ourselves.  And, the translucent aqua blue water was comfortably warm.  At one point, the land narrows to a width of 50 feet.  Walk across it and you are on the windward side of the island looking at the Tobago Cays.  Our lunch spot was the Salt 

Whistle Bay Club.  Each group is seated at a private table with a thatched roof.  The tables and benches are beautifully made of stone.  After lunch we continued our walk to the end of the beach and a second restaurant called The Last Bar Before The Jungle.   We didn’t venture beyond to see if he was telling the truth.   
A peek of Gotta Smile from our
 lunch table. 




Food in the islands is prepared after you order.
Fast food is not a term used down here.
Brian rested while we waited 
for lunch to be served.

Rested and fed -- he's a happy guy.
























Time for a stroll to the other end of the beach.  And...













The Last Bar Before The Jungle.
Unfortunately, these pictures don't show all of the
colors in the water.  You will just have to come and
see it for yourself.

For those of you coming this way, establish a relationship with one of the boat boys immediately when you enter a bay.  They are very friendly, will do anything for a small amount of money and they respect each others' territory.    Don’t be afraid to say ’no thank you’ if you don’t need what they are selling.  They will quickly be on to the next boat. 






































It was just a over a mile from Mayreau to the Tobago Cays National Park, where we anchored Friday morning.  The water is spectacular with more colors of blue and green than I could count.  Seagulls’ wings reflect the water's color making them look more like wild parrots.  The Cays are an uninhabited series of small islands protected by Horseshoe Reef.  Anchored, we look out to nothing but ocean.  The waves break at the reef, framing this beautiful park and protecting some of the most beautiful anchorages in the Eastern Caribbean.   Go beyond the reef, travel for 19 days and you will arrive in Africa.  No, thanks!





Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!