Friday, February 26, 2010

Photos of Grenada

Photos of Grenada. Click here to view the photos.

Mooning the Mjolners

And now the time has come. Two sailboats leave Hillsborough bay on Carriacou, Grenada after checking out with customs and immigrations, enjoying a good roti and having one last little play on the beach. Pjotter towards Union Island and Mjolner towards Tobago, our paths taking us in opposite directions knowing that it will be a long time before they will cross again. I cannot adequately describe how sad and heavy we felt as we watched their small white sails disappear over the horizon. Suffice it to say that Seb and I were both truly sobbing almost until we dropped anchor in Clifton bay on Union Island and became teary again when Emma and Macsen awoke from their naps with a ´Where is the Mjolner?´ and a ´Sophia is…?´ respectively. Enough said.

Our First Real Taste of the Caribbean

Arrived in Grenada, anchored in Prickly Bay, and after the inevitable customs and immigration check-in we took our dinghies over and lunched appropriately at Da Big Fish. ‘Da’ is often used to replace ‘The’ in Caribbean ‘patois’ and seems to make things big and important. Macsen is picking up some of the local vocabulary and uses it often to describe motoring about in the dingy, one of his favourite activities. Several times a day we witness him rushing outside, jumping up and down and pointing frantically at the Spikkel´s outboard and pronouncing ´Da Motor´ with almost desperate enthusiasm. Once on board the Spikkel, he grasps the tiller, stands tall and again pronounces ´Da Motor´ with great clarity and aplomb.

Prickly Bay was very busy so we sailed the next day just a few nautical miles through some tricky reefs to Hog Island, an almost deserted island with a wooden shack named Roger’s (ramshackle) bar that is apparently sometimes open from 1800-2000 and sells beer. Just next to the bar we found a large rusty barbeque and Seb and Jeroen gathered enough wood for us to cook up a good feast. We hoped for some fishy treats for the grill the next day so we set the crab trap and spent the evening fishing from the boat. Sadly nothing bit and the only inhabitant of the crab pot the next morning was a very disgruntled but beautiful moray eel. We released it carefully and it glided back into the deep.

True Blue Bay was our next anchorage, also a short sail away. From here we rented a car and toured the twisty roads of the main island of Grenada. Grenada is of volcanic origin and is very mountainous and has rich soil. Stopping first at the Annandale Waterfall, a lovely botanical garden complete with a 10 meter waterfall, we enjoyed a swim in the natural pool (ahhh, a fresh water shower). Grenville was the most interesting stop on our itinerary. They were celebrating the 37th anniversary of the independence of Grenada and the streets were full of people in the country´s vivid national colours of green, red and yellow. The market was also in full swing and strongly and surprisingly reminiscent of the market in Georgetown, The Gambia. The island is famed for its spices (particularly nutmeg) and the smells were terrific. Our trip concluded with dinner in a beachfront cafĂ© near the capital St. George´s. Grenada is a lovely island with a very sad recent history of devastating hurricanes (2004 and 2005, destroying 90% of the houses on the island). You notice this in the state of the buildings and nature and in the determination of the people to rebuild.

True Blue was also the site of our last ladies´ and boy´s nights with the Mjolners for a while. We did ourselves proud with the boys coming back to the boat in the wee hours of the morning and the following night, ladies night, ending with a surreptitious nighttime slide down the waterslide in the pool. Wooohooo! Our last days in Grenada were spent exploring the adjacent islands of Petit St. Vincent (illicitly as it actually belongs to St. Vincent and the Grenadines), Petit Martinique and Carriacou. Lovely snorkeling, swimming, castle building, frolicking on the beach and generally eating and drinking, laughing and enjoying ourselves a great deal.

Photos of Trinidad & Tobago

Photos of Trinidad & Tobago. Click here to view the photos.

Toodle-Pip Tangaroa

The Mjolners decided to join us on our sail to Grenada so that we could delay the agony of separation for another 10 days. Hurray! I must give thanks to Caroline for the suggestion and to Jeroen, Luise and Sophia for taking it up so enthusiastically.

Departed Trinidad in the evening of February 1st along with the Tangaroa and Mjolner for a 70 nautical mile sail to Grenada. We travelled at night and close together as there had been a report in December of pirates from Venezuela in the area. There is a large and very brightly lit oil rig almost exactly halfway between Trinidad and Grenada. Just as we passed this floating Christmas tree we heard Wierd’s voice over the VHF channel 71 with a wonderfully moving speech bidding us good-bye. As they signed off we saw the Tangaroa turn 90 degrees and head off towards Los Testigos, Venezuela on their way towards Panama. They will go through the Panama canal in March on their way to Australia where they will remain for six months while Wierd fixes a few hips (he is a surgeon) before flying back to the Netherlands. They were one of the original musketeers and the first fellow ‘vertrekkers’ that Seb and I met in the early days of preparations. You don’t often find people with whom you have such a common approach to life and we are very happy to have spent time with them. Fair winds Tangaroa!

Scotland Bay and Steel Band Semifinals

To break up our rather prolonged stay in Chagauramus we headed out five nautical miles to Scotland Bay to get away from it all for a couple of days. Scotland Bay is a beautiful bay surrounded by mangroves and rain forest and we had been told that howler monkeys could be heard echoing through the bay at night. A trip to the shore uncovered a much less pleasant view. The entire shoreline was covered with mounds of rotting garbage of every imaginable kind ranging from the expected beer bottles to corroded car batteries to old baby prams. Disgusting. The garbage is interspersed with signs ironically requesting people not to litter. As a final bonus the shore line also has several (generally well marked) deadly machineel trees. These tree are extremely dangerous and you are warned not to touch the leaves, not to stand under them in the rain and certainly to avoid eating any of the fruit.

Scotland Bay was not without its upside. We had a few wonderful ´last evenings´ with the Mjolners and a good celebration of our friendship. We also enjoyed a glass of wine on a beautiful boat named the Plane Song with her owner Bruce. This is a lovely 38-foot boat from 1978 that he has carefully restored to its original beauty with the support of Shannon Yachts in Bristol Rhode, Island where she was designed and built. A little before my brother´s time there but a nice coincidence nonetheless.

Headed back to Chagaramus to take in some of the final pre-carnival celebrations. Along with the Tangaroa and the Mjolner we went into the Queen’s Park Savannah to see the semifinals of the Panorama Steel Bands. There were over 25 bands competing in small, medium and large (up to 100 players) band categories. It was a great sphere with cold beer, good food (yum…doubles) and jolly music. Trinidad is clearly a country that takes their carnival extremely seriously.

Pjotter Afloat

Jan-Bart and Monique flew out of Port-of-Spain for a 6-week trip back to the Netherlands on January 24th. It was sad and strange to say goodbye to one of three crews with whom we had crossed an ocean. We spent a great deal of time together in the days preceding their departure as their boat was located two boats down in the row from the Pjotter and they frequently came along to support, consult or help us with our small repairs.

Pjotter was re-launched with her newly fixed keel on the 26th and was tied up near to the Mjolner and Tangaroa in the Powerboats marina. After a rock and rolly evening spent listening to our lines stretching and pulling we were shocked to hear a great crack and rushed outside to see that a section of our toe-rail had been torn off by the pitching of the bow in the marina. Horrors! We immediately loosened the lines and headed out on a futile search for a mooring buoy before reluctantly moving the boat over to the more sheltered waters of the Crew’s Inn marina. Here we spent a couple of comfortable nights and lovely days by the pool. We also had some fabulous barbeques using their 3-meter diameter circular grill (under gazebo for those infrequent rainy moments). This is the first marina I have ever been in that delivers a newspaper to your boat every morning and we had our very own garbage bin!

Monday, February 01, 2010

'Zilte Wereld' interview

In the last issue of the Dutch sailing magazine 'Zilt' a short interview appeared of our trip and the Atlantic crossing in particular. The magazine can be downloaded here.