… and fails. When I used to play an expert on TV, I was trained to ALWAYS SMILE when on camera; otherwise you look stern. I forgot. I promise I’ll remember next time.
May 18, 2012 — Each island we visited in the Grenadines seemed more picture-perfect than the next, and Union Island was no exception. The strikingly quaint main town, Clifton, had a town square with its fence and benches painted in bright primary colors that clashed with the bright tropical tangerines, limes and pinks of the town’s gingerbread buildings. Even the market was a riot of color, the charming little individual huts’ paints invariably clashing with the bright vegetables and fruits stacked out front and hanging from the rafters.
It seems like the further south we get, the friendlier the people are, eager to just chat and share a moment of their lives. In Clifton, we stopped into a tackle shop for some lures and a steel leader (as the damn barracuda kept stealing my lures because of the lack of steel leader!) and ended up spending a half an hour laughing with the shop’s owner, who was highly amused by Pip’s and my practiced banter about our marriage and not having kids. Everywhere we go, it’s easy to exchange a kind word; on our hike on Union Island, we stopped for sodas at a mini-mart/tailor’s shop whose owner interrupted her sewing to offer us free wax apples when I asked what they were. (A wax apple is a small, pink fruit with a firm, not-too-sweet flesh that is very hydrating and a bit like a mix between an apple and a pear. Yummy.)
If the people are lovely, the dogs are even sweeter. Dominica was the first place that street dogs became ubiquitous, trotting up and down the streets and beaches. While many sport collars and must belong to someone, they seem to just wander around at will, which could potentially be scary, except they’re all the sweetest dogs on earth. They seem to like to join us on our hikes: on Bequia, a big black dog, whose owners in their yard laughed when I told them she was my new best friend, trotted along with us until I commanded her to “stay,” then watched us with sad eyes as we walked away. On Mayreu, we hiked over to the most stereotypically stunning half-moon beach where Beach Boy, one of many local beach dogs, tagged along with us for a good half an hour as we walked along the beach to dramatic cliffs on the north side of the island. While Beach Boy clearly was in it for the pets, the dog that accompanied us on the walk home seemed to simply want company, trotting along about 20 feet in front of us and waiting for us to catch up on the steep hills.
We’ve been moving quickly, only spending a few days in each place, pushing to make it south to mainland Grenada to do some repairs before the passage to Curacao. Yesterday, we cleared into Grenada in Carriacou, a small island with one gas station and 137 rum shops, where the cruising guide’s author claims to have seen a gull sitting on top of a pelican’s head not once, but twice – thereby summing up the island. I had the guys at immigration at stitches telling them this, a good sign for the continuing friendliness of the locals, as the guys at immigration are usually really serious.
May 20, 2012 – As Philip mentioned in his post this morning, we got the heck outta dodge pretty quickly yesterday when we realized that the anchorage wouldn’t be tenable overnight. That morning, though, we had enjoyed a lovely walk around Windward, a small village on the north coast of Carriacou that was settled by Scots who brought their traditional wooden boat-building trade with them.
We had a lovely conversation with a man named Alwin, a local boat builder who looked very much like the black version of Larry Pardy. He’s been building wooden sailboats out of white cedar by hand for 30 years, and told us that it takes him about 6 months to complete one of them.
We remembered that we have the capacity to take photos – albeit crummy ones – with the videocamera, so we took it along and got these grainy snaps for you. It’s better than nuttin’. This morning, we forgot the camera on our adventure into the mangrove swamp, which is really too bad, because it was super-cool: decaying ships in the hurricane hole then at least a mile of serene, mangrove lined water. We turned off the engine and paddled the dinghy like a canoe, enjoying the sound of songbirds in the mangroves and the sight of a sea turtle below and an osprey above.
FINALLY, some internet.
As noted in the previous dispatch, we are now in Grenada, on the island of Carriacou. We stopped in Hillsborough for the first night, which was fine, but then the winds have become highly variable (15 gusting 35) and periodic squalls come through day and night. Add to that the fact that the bottom of Hillsborough Bay provides some of the worst holding we’ve experienced. The seabed consists of mostly weed, with small patches of sand, and the whole area is covered in small rocks, lumps of coral and detritus.
This led to us dragging our anchor during a squall while we were off the boat exploring the island. Fortunately, two other boats also dragged which alerted their crew, Per and Monica, from Stockholm, aboard Abilene. Per drove over to Picaroon and reset the anchor–I think by diving on it, though we are a bit fuzzy on how. We were just sitting down to eat lunch on the beach when we saw his dinghy tied to our boat, so we raced back. We had dragged about 300 feet. Per said their was a large lump of coral stuck in the Bruce anchor, which I can well believe because the next three times we tried to re-anchor it picked up some chunk of rubble. In the end, we decided that despite being tired, the best thing to do was up and move to Tyrrell Bay, where the holding is better.
Couple of notes on this for anyone who is interested:
1) This is only the second time we’ve dragged in 3500 miles of voyaging. We always put out at least 5:1 scope (including the height from the water to the bowsprit), and back down hard until we stop going backwards. So no lectures on how to properly anchor, please.
2) We usually dive on the anchor, where the water is clear. We did not this time, which reinforces the benefit of doing so.
3) The Bruce anchor has been excellent for everything so far, but this highlights a major weakness in the design: In holding with loose boulders or coral, the Bruce will pick up anything large enough and will not dig in at all. We are planning on switching to the old CQR to try that for a while.
4) Backing down, even pretty hard, on your anchor is not as much force as 40 knots of wind.
Sorry about the not-so-fantiastic image quality. That’s a still from the video camera, which is the only way we have of taking pics right now.