Sunday, 30 August 2009

Miss Daisie

Feeling sleepy underway, Miss Daisie likes to get up close.
Cruising with pets presents many challenges. Daisie brings a lot of joy to us and she's shared the love with friends along the way! Each Sunday morning for the next few months, we'll share some of our favorite pictures of Miss Daisie's cruising life.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Fast and Furious Pace in Trinidad


It's going to be hot and noisy on the water tomorrow, Saturday, with the Trinidad to Tobago powerboat race starting at 6:30am. We got a little preview of Fury yesterday in Chaguaramas Bay.

This weekend is Trinidad's Independence Day weekend and there are lots of activities to choose from including the big parade in Port of Spain on Monday. We have very little planned, except for boat projects and more planning. Perhaps we'll catch a glimpse of the powerboats as they flash by.

Hi, Goodbye.

Our lives are full of hi's and goodbye's. Now that we are in Trinidad the goodbye's become more difficult. Soon we will go beyond another "chicken harbour" when we leave the Caribbean to pass through the Panama Canal.

Here we are enjoying an evening aboard the cat, Whiskers in Chaguaramas

Many of the adventurous Caribbean cruisers who've ventured beyond safe harbours in the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands will turn around towards home in the northern hemisphere after hurricane season. Others will hang around the Caribbean for another sailing season. Many will continue west intent on South America and the whole of the Caribbean Sea; some cross through the Canal to the Pacific and a few will keep going all the way on their circumnavigation.

For us it's a case of returning home to Australia and we've chosen to sail Bristol Rose with the World Cruising Club's ARC as the vehicle to help us get there. We'll be with the ARC from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, leaving January 6, 2010 until arrival in Australia in July 2010.

Beatrice keeps all her "babies" safe

We left some friends in Grenada just over a week ago with the chance we will see them again in Trinidad. Here we reunited with Gary and Jackie of Inspiration Lady and Gerald, Diana and Daisie's pal Beatrice, aboard their fabulous cat, Whiskers. Gerald, Diana and Bea are on their second circumnavigation!

After helping Gerald celebrate his birthday, we once again bid a sad farewell to the Whiskers crew. They're heading west and we hope to see them in the San Blas islands or maybe our reunion will have to wait until Sydney. No matter when, we'll be looking forward to seeing them again.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Captain, are you at home? Lessons Learned!

What happens when the Captain is ashore and his or her boat breaks free of its mooring or the anchor drags? Depending on the current, tide and conditions, a boat could end up miles out to sea, washed onto a reef or against a rocky shoreline, or coming to hard stop against another boat.

Luckily for our neighbor who shall remain nameless, Robert and I were sitting in the cockpit of BR, connected to the internet and occasionally gazing across the anchorage. Robert calmly asked: "Was that boat there before, right next to Inspiration Lady?" In a second he was in our dinghy and then jumping aboard the drifting boat. No one was home and there was no key to start the engine.

Runaway boat apprehended. The boat with blue stripe is Inspiration Lady.

I got onto the VHF radio to alert Gary of Inspiration Lady. In about a minute he was in his dinghy, joined by another cruiser and the three rescuers gently manoeuvred the runaway back through the other boats towards her mooring ball. No harm done this time, except a little shock and injury to the ego of the Captain when he returned to the news that in his absence, his boat had been rescued.

The three rescuers return the boat to her mooring ball.

An embarrassment but also a learning experience. It can happen to anyone. It happened to us in the Dominican Republic. In winds of 25 knots BR's anchor dragged with a lump of mud along the bottom of Luperon harbour. We'd heard that dragging anchors through the poor holding of Luperon's muddy bottom was too common. Before we left BR for a day out Robert took the precaution of telling our neighbor where to find the key to the ignition, just in case. He must have sensed something or maybe it was just Luperon's reputation for poor holding nagging away at him. I hope we will always remain humble and open enough to learn from our own mistakes and lessons taught by others!

This Beneteau is secured with just one line threaded through the mooring ball's metal "thimble" at the top. The yellow line is not attached to the boat. It's just there to hold a plastic bottle marker.

On this occasion in Chaguaramas, the runaway boat had been secured to her mooring ball with just one line threaded through the loop on top of the ball. With the constant boat traffic and change of tides causing the boat to swing and rock on the ball, the line wore through. It doesn't take long, less than a week will do it.

An accident waiting to happen? That metal "thimble" can cut like a knife.

A better way to secure to a mooring ball. The metal ring is smooth but we still have to check for wear and tear.

If you've never tied up to a mooring ball, as the Captain had not, you would easily make the same mistake. The recommended method is to use two lines, each with looped ends. When the two lines are threaded through the ball's metal "thimble" and back through their own loops before securing to cleats on the boat, there's less chance of breaking free from wear and tear. A new neighbour moored beside us this afternoon; a shiny Beneteau. The metal "thimble" on their mooring ball sure looks dangerous to me! There's a fine line between interference and giving unsolicited advice.

When we dragged in Luperon our good neighbors on Lorelei, Night Hawk and Essential Part rescued us. We became friends and ended up traveling down the islands with Ray and Genna of Night Hawk, so good things can truly come out of bad luck. We are also reminded to check our lines.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Miss Daisie

Miss Daisie in the Bahamas, "Where's my hairdresser?"
It's Sunday morning; time to share a view of life aboard with Miss Daisie. The picture is one of my favorites, taken in March 2009 at Conception Island, one of the out islands of the Bahamas.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Arrival in Trinidad

As we approached the northwest coast of Trinidad, the current rushed between the mainland and Monos Island.

The islands of Trinidad and Tobago were captured by the British in 1797. In 1962 they jointly became an independent state. The T&T Independence Day will be celebrated next Monday, August 31.
After a 16 hour overnight passage from Grenada we arrived in Trinidad on Wednesday, August 19th, a hot and gorgeous morning.

During the night we passed three of the country's oil platforms between Grenada and Trinidad. They are easy to see even without radar; they are well lit and visible for miles. During the second world war the US established bases in Trinidad to protect oil shipments to England. The US influence still seems strong, especially in the large shopping malls and the yachting industry. The supermarkets here are well stocked and you can even buy Australian beef.

The busy anchorage of Chaguaramas Bay is tucked in, on the southern side of the northwestern tip of Trinidad.

According to our trusty Doyle's guide, Chaguaramas was home to 30,000 Americans during the last world war. These days, the cruisers are here in droves from all over the world. Chaguaramas is a destination for anyone needing any kind of boat work. Insurance companies also push more cruisers further south into Trinidad for hurricane season, after hurricane Ivan devastated Grenada in 2004.

Sunset photo from the cockpit of Bristol Rose, on a mooring ball in Chaguaramas Bay.

For more info on Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, click on this link for the Chaguaramas Development Authority.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Miss Daisie

Miss Daisie loves to look over the side of the dinghy and sometimes even catches a wave.
Each Sunday morning over the next few months we'll share our favorite pictures of Miss Daisie and her cruising life.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

In the Clutches of Carnival

Carnival Queen

Carnival costumes are too gorgeous to limit their exposure to just one night. Last night was Mas Monday. Everyone was out in the streets for the jump-up, a big street party stretching the length of the road from Grand Anse through the Carenage of St. Georges. Banks of speakers roll through the streets blasting Soca, and food and drinks are in plentiful supply. We can recommend the barbecue chicken.

Earlier in the day the bands assembled at the National Cricket Stadium for their judging. We caught some of them returning to their camps in the early evening. Today everyone will be back on the streets for the grand parade and the street judging.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Pandemonium in Grenada

2009 Panorama Champions, Coyoba New Dimension, Pan Fever

Suzuki Pan Wizards

Calabash Pan Lovers, Pandemic

Grand Roy Pan Angels

LIME Commancheros, Pan Revolution

Angels, Lovers, Wizards, Commancheros, West Side Symphony, Rainbow City Allstars, Angel Harps and New Dimension battled well into the early morning. Armed with steel, sticks and car parts the members of each steel pan band played their hearts out. The age range of the players in most bands was extraordinary with some as young as 12 and others that looked much older, all in harmony and clearly enjoying themselves.

We had so much fun last night, we intend to sleep through the Carnival street parties in Woburn tonight and hope the Jab Jab does not bite. J'ouvert will be at it's peak just before sunrise, when everyone will be covered with paint, oils and mud. Soca music has been thumping across the water in Clarkes Court Bay for most of the day. By now the Carnival king and queen will have been announced. Monday and Tuesday we'll get to see the fantastic costumes and street parades.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Miss Daisie

Miss Daisie helps out with going up the mast

Friday, 7 August 2009

It's Carnival Time in Grenada!

The Garvey mas camp on the Carenage, St. Georges, Grenada
The island is jumping. Soca music blasts in the buses and floats from waterside bars and parties across the anchorages to remind us Carnival is for everyone. Preparations for Grenada's Carnival have been going on for months in mas (masquerade) camps all over the country.
I visited a couple of mas camps in St. George's to see how those flamboyant costumes come together.
There are never too many feathers at Carnival
The designers we met allowed us to take photographs in their mas camps and generously took time to explain all about Carnival, from Jouvert and Jab Jab to the judging of the pan bands. Jouvert involves music in the streets (of course) and lots of paint, oil and having a good time. With a pre-dawn start, we opted out of the Jouvert in favor of sleep. We'll be heading to Panorama tonight to watch the steel pan bands compete at the National Stadium and it promises to be a long night.
Andre Garvey's theme for this year's carnival is "Journey to the Temple of the Sun"

The hats are ready for the red section of Richardo's band
Actor, children's book author and teacher, Richardo Keens-Douglas, was working on hats when we visited his mas camp high on the hill overlooking the Carenage in St. Georges. When I headed off with Susie, Matt and Karen to see what a mas camp looks like, I never imagined I'd arrive at the childhood home of a famous Grenadian! Not only is Richardo extremely talented, he's one of the most charming and delightful people you could ever hope to meet. What a wonderful surprise.
While Susie, Karen and Matt decided to become part of the Carnival, I opted to forego the limelight to stand on the sidelines taking photographs. Oh well, we can't all be Carnival stars. I can't wait to see them in their costumes!

Since we've been in Grenada, we've learned a whole new vocabulary. We know we don't want no Jumbi and for sure will be on the lookout for Jab Jab. As for wining, we'll leave that for the locals who really know how to move.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Miss Daisie

Miss Daisie loves to run

Virgins No More

I've been tempted once or twice. The first time was about 35 years ago. Everyone who does it insists it's a lot of fun. It didn't sound all that much fun to me so I avoided it. Thats all in the past now.

This afternoon, I crossed over and can no longer claim virgin status. Steve and Helen aboard Dignity are more than a little to blame. They do it all the time.

Despite the threat of rain, a large crowd gathered at the Grand Etang Forest. It started innocently enough with a short run up the hill into the mist, then a quick descent down some fairly steep stairs to Lake Grand Etang.

Once in the rainforest it's, well, wet with rain. As people rushed by us, the trail quickly deteriorated into a muddy quagmire. There was no escaping what looked like the playpen of a herd of hippos. Broken and rotting branches and tattered tropical leaves were spewed about where those before us had desperately clutched out. It was an effort just to remain upright. Slipping and sliding, we had little choice but to surrender ourselves to the mud. Up and down we trudged the trail around the lake, for what seemed like five miles.

Matt, a self-confessed shoelace-loosener, had his shoes sucked right off his feet once or twice. Karen bravely battled on for hours despite being far removed from her comfort zone. She surely has earned a new pair of shoes, as well as a new dress, some jewellery, etc. - no holding back.

Robert, ever the gentleman, constantly reached back to encourage me through the rainforest and up the most difficult slippery slopes. He guided me across treacherous mud-slicked logs traversing what might once have been small streams but now were giant, gloopy, sticky mud puddles.

At last, the trail leads back down to the lake and the paved road. We take the steep road back up the hill to where everyone has gathered to celebrate their efforts. Matt, Karen, Robert and I are now officially Hash House Hounds, as decreed by the Hashmaster of Grenada Hash House Harriers at Grand Etang, St. Andrews. We're no longer virgins and we have the mud-smeared certificates to prove it. The glory may be short-lived because we're not sure we'll ever repeat the experience, no matter how much muddy fun is promised.

Tonight, as I scrub off the mud and rest my tired muscles, I'm congratulating myself for making it to the end, and vowing never to return to the Hash House Harriers. Despite the sense of achievement at the end of the day, it's too much fun for me!