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August 2011
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October 2011

September 2011

I’ve Got New Shoes

Here’s the rest of the story regarding my Columbia Techsun II Sandals – those are the ones manufactured with cardboard between the layers in the sole. I had sent a copy of that blog post to their customer service email, but didn’t receive a response after 4 days, so I posted my complaint. Very shortly after that I received a reply on Twitter and in my email account.

In email, Christian apologized for my problems with the shoes and offered to replace them with a different style of a similar value. I accepted, but reminded him that we were in Grenada – and wasn’t sure how we could handle the shipping.

We both looked for an answer, and Christian got back to me first. He said that the warehouse couldn’t  send shoes to a foreign country but he could. He would have the shoes shipped to his desk and wait for me to provide an address in Grenada. That was an excellent and generous offer, but I came up with an even better one.

Our neighbors and friends were expecting company from Tennessee. Could Christian ship the shoes there over the Labor Day Weekend? If so, the guests would stash the sandals in their bags and bring them to Grenada.

Perfect. I have my shoes, the Columbia Sun.

I’m not thrilled with the color (black, and I chose it) but they are very comfortable. I’ve walked to town two or three times already and they are good, comfortable sandals. I’ll still seek more nautical sailing kicks when we get back to a shopping zone (St. Thomas, St Maartin, or some such place). I’ve decided that we really need two pair of sandals, one for walking and one for deck wear. Neither should contain cardboard.

Christian is excellent at customer service – but no one addressed whether it is really a good idea to put cardboard in boating/water use sandals. It’s not. I think they should discontinue any model that was created with that flaw. As a consumer, I will not purchase Columbia sandals for marine use, since I can’t be sure which ones have cardboard and which do not. West Marine, are you paying attention?

I’m not sure that Columbia Sportswear manufacturing arm cares, but their customer service department does. I’ll continue to purchase their product, but not sandals for water use.

Thank you, Christian.

And a big shout out to Linda and Steve from Tennessee. They tucked the sandals into their bags, no questions asked – even though they knew these sandals were way to big for Carrie’s feet. We loved meeting you and sharing your time in Grenada. Y’all come back now, y’hear?


Take it, Tony!

EW and Group 9-25-2011 3-39-12 PM

“Take it, Tony!” I heard EW say that on Sunday afternoon. He sported a huge grin, his toes were tapping, and he was leading the jam session at Whisper Cove Marina in a rendition of Paul Siebel’s “Louise”. EW was living his dream.

When we met, lo those many years ago, EW had a guitar and played a few tunes. He actually played for me on our third date and I fell in love – not because he was that good, but because he was that unselfconscious about playing. He wanted to share something he loved with me and I melted. Shortly after that he began to take lessons from a classical guitarist in Portland, who consented to provide the music in our low-key wedding. I walked up and down the aisle to a classical guitarist playing Bach. It was a wonderful way to start our married life together.

012But I digress. EW’s favorite music is that of singer/songwriters who play guitar, and any excellent guitar player. We listen to Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt, Guy Clark, Jon Edwards, Leo Kotke, Bob Dylan, and many, many more. One of EW’s dreams was to play music with other cruisers, in the harbors we visit. He’s never going to make any money at it, but he has improved considerably and even has the courage to sing in public.

We recently attended two jam sessions. There are other musicians who are more adept than he, but he’s still unselfconscious, willing to try, and unafraid of being wrong out loud in public. He asks questions, learns new chords, takes advice, and attempts to play any song the others start. He will also take his turn to lead a song or two. Right now “his” songs are the following: “Louise”, by Paul Siebel; “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”, by Bob Dylan: “Boats to Build” by Guy Clark, “Norwegian Wood”, by the Beatles; “Mr. Bojangles”, by Jerry Jeff Walker, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”, by Bob Dylan"; “Cocaine Blues”EW and the Jam Session 9-25-2011 3-39-26 PM, by the Reverend Gary Davis; and a “Twelve Bar Blues Progression in A”.

Since I’ve heard all of these and others, over and over again, I tune in immediately when it’s one of EW’s songs. I love to hear him play. Some of my happiest quiet times in the house or on the boat have always been listening to EW practice while I read a good book. I don’t care if he’s running the same song or same phrase over and over, I never get tired of it. Currently, he’s working on “A Song for a Winter’s Night”, by Gordon Lightfoot. But, as EW said, “He plays it much faster than I can. It’s a hard lesson for that one.” That’s OK. I love to hear it.

EW JammingSo, there we were, in an outdoor restaurant/bar in Grenada. The jam session took place in one corner and the audience sat at tables along the outside half wall. Like all bar audiences, we talked and laughed, but my antenna went up whenever I heard one of EW’s songs. He was singing and strumming “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”, when he got to the end of the verse, he looked across the circle at the excellent fiddler and mandolin player from Ragin Cajun, grinned,  and said, “Take it, Tony!”

A dream fulfilled. Let the adventure continue.

 

 

 

 

 

EW Jamming at de Big Fish 9-20-2011 6-58-23 AM

The photo at right and the one of EW in the light tropical print shirt were taken by Gabi from the S/V Ju-Ca, at the jam session held at de Big Fish. I took the other photos with the iPhone at Whisper Cove Marina.


A Missed Opportunity

Here's what happens when you have no working camera. A few weeks ago, EW had spent time sorting all of his fasteners (screws, nuts, bolts, etc.) into a large plastic container with over a dozen different compartments. This evening, he dropped it. Poor EW. Not only does he have to resort all of the fasteners, but he's also married to a woman whose first response was, "Damn! The camera isn't working so I can't post this!" That's not good. That's not good at all. Funny though.


There Is No Typical Day in Paradise

 

Before we left, I read many cruising books and magazine articles by experienced cruisers. Inevitably, there would be one or two “Typical Day” articles about living on anchor in the islands.They would discuss rising and shining and working on boat projects for four hours, having lunch, swimming, reading, and enjoying sundowners. Their days were ordered and productive. Either those authors lie, or they are more disciplined than I am. We arrived at “mainland” Grenada on August 3rd and, while we’ve moved about the harbor a bit to re-anchor, La Luna hasn’t left Prickly Bay in almost 2 months. Here’s my truth about living in Grenada during hurricane season.

1. We aren’t sailing. One of the reasons we wanted to stay in Grenada is so we could go sailing. I’m sure I mentioned that I wouldn’t want to stay in Luperon for the season “because there’s no place to sail to”. While this isn’t like cruising the Coast of Maine, there are a number of interesting harbors in Grenada and nothing but our own ennui to prevent us from hauling anchor, going for a day sail, and dropping the hook back here in Prickly or  in another bay. P7310006

2. We are insured in Grenada – just not for damage from a “named storm”. I know I’ve mentioned that I didn’t understand our insurance until we talked with other cruisers in Carriacou. Since Carriacou is part of Grenada, you can see that I was ignorant for a long time. Our insurance company will insure a certain number of boats for hurricane season in most Caribbean locations. We hadn’t applied for an exemption in Grenada and knew from others that the quota had been met by the time we heard about it. During that discussion, EW finally made me understand that we were insured in Grenada unless there was a storm, in which case we would have warning and head south to Trinidad and Tobago. Oh. For months I’d been saying “We can’t say in Grenada. Our insurance doesn’t allow it,” and receiving puzzled looks from more savvy cruisers. It took me a while but I got it.P8250018

3. The Grenada Cruisers’ Net is much less formal than that in Georgetown, and individuals can easily come up with ideas for events, find a place, and invite other cruisers. Our options include: playing games, such as volleyball, dominoes, cricket, backgammon, and bocce; seeing movies, both out of doors and in a local theater; snorkeling and diving; hiking and hashing, swimming under waterfalls; cooking lessons; excursions for shopping, a fish fry, or island tours; book swaps, Spanish lessons; and events at local restaurants and bars, including watching football, rugby, and cricket, musical jams, and listening and dancing to excellent local entertainment.

4. We have an increasing circle of friends here, so we get together for dinner, play cards and dominoes, enjoy sundowners, and share knowledge about other harbors, the cruising life, and safety.

All of this means that the “typical” day I’ve read about just hasn’t been possible for me here in Grenada – if that means I am a weak woman, so be it.

We get up about 6:30 or 7:00 and generally have a leisurely morning. If it’s calm, I may take a borrowed kayak out for some exercise. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays both of us attend an excellent yoga class in the shade at a nearby resort. (The manager gave the cruiser/instructor permission to use their lawn when two of his staff expressed interest in attending.)

If there’s nothing else going on that morning, we head back to the boat and generally get some work done. Right now, I’m working on an eBook about this first year of cruising and I have found that boat projects and this blog (and EW’s meals) have suffered greatly as a result. EW has been varnishing in the forward cabin, which has created a small mess aft as all things normally stored up forward have to have a temporary home. They now reside on our bed during the day and in the main salon at night. You may wonder about my self-absorption in the ebook. How bad is it you ask? EW was working on deck and needed some help. He called down, “Are you decent? Can you come up and help me?” I was not decent. It was 2:00 PM and I’d been writing since breakfast. I should be decently dressed long before 2:00 PM and have worked to at least achieve that goal ever since.

I do laundry or delivery laundry to be done in the morning and may then head off to town for provisions (groceries to you landlubbers). I prefer to write in the morning, so now more often do the grocery run in late afternoon, since it is just too hot to walk here at mid-day.

At least 3 days a week, we have something going on during the day: Spanish lessons, cooking lessons, hikes, excursions. If it sounds good or interesting, we try it. I haven’t yet participated in Tuesday Ladies Dominos at da Big Fish, yet, but that’s on my list for next week.

We read a lot.

We do clean and repair boat things. Really, we do.

We play cards.

We get on the Internet and Skype when possible, and text, tweet, email, and Facebook nearly every day.

We watch movies on board.

EW plays his guitar.

I cook. We clean up.

We undertake a major project every so often. If we’re lucky it’s a Project not Another Project. EW just discovered a serious issue with our dinghy so now he has Another Project to tackle.

This all sounds boring to me as I write this, but it’s not. It is certainly a slower pace that our previous life, and I’m still working on chilling out and getting in step with that. It’s a life that allows for a bit more contemplation, a lot more time together, and much more creativity than the life we lived before.
P7310044
It suits us.

You could say that it’s D-Vine.

 

 

Photos, top to bottom:

On the beach before the Carriacou Regatta

Cooking Class at Tru Blue Bay Resort

One of the local Carriacou racing boats.


Are You Ready for Some Football?

EW is always ready for football. The only reason I’m not a football widow is that I’ve usually joined him in viewing the games. When we were renovating the house, years ago, EW would get a lot of plumbing, sheetrock, or wood work accomplished and still have time to watch a game or two each week. He’s a Bills fan. He puts the fan in fanatic. He’s a die-hard, I’m-from-Western-New-York-where-they-have- Beef-on-Wick-and-real-Buffalo-Wings Bills Fan.

We opted not to have a TV on board, even when we lived at the dock in Maine and had Time Warner Cable on the boat. EW purchased an antenna designed to provide local TV to his laptop and would watch the games on board. If that didn’t work, we’d head to a sports bar for the Bills game, and the play-offs, and the Super Bowl.

We left Maine during football season and EW declared, “I’m not going to watch football much, now that we’re cruising.”

Right.

146He didn’t have much opportunity on our way south from Maine to Florida, but did get to enjoy some games while we were in Jacksonville. When we were on the dock in Fort Lauderdale, the marina had a TV in the laundry room. At my suggestion, EW and another cruiser set up lawn chairs and we all watched a game or two. The security guards took their breaks in the laundry room and were tickled to see us – or maybe they were just tickled they could enjoy the game on their breaks.

PC260016In Bimini, the resort and marina next door had a tiki sports bar with 3 TV’s, so we wandered over there the day after Christmas for the Bills game. A family who was staying at the resort had dibs on the audio for the Giants game, so the bartender very nicely gave us the TV with subtitles. It was windy, and not terribly warm, but EW enjoyed having a beer and watching football on the pool deck, almost as much as he enjoyed having sailed to the Bahamas.  Superbowl Sunday found us in Staniel Cay, where their bar had a food and drinks special for the evening, and we joined cruisers and resort guests for a rollicking good time. Afterward, EW said, "Well – I probably won’t watch much football next season."

Right. (You do realize that these “rights’ are “said sarcastic” with a Maine accent, don’t you?)

Here we are, anchored in Grenada, surrounded by cruisers from Australia, England, South Africa, France, Germany and the US. We are a 20 minute bus ride to any of the harbors and waterfront bars, and those bars cater to cruisers. On any given Cruisers Net we will learn where to watch Rugby, Football, Cricket, the US Open, and American Football. Near the marina is a small bar with a big screen TV and one of Rosa’s regulars convinced her to offer the Giants/Redskins game this week. We drank beer, ate barbequed wings and fries, chatted with our cruising friends and met new friends. Once again, EW was bitten by the football bug.

On Monday morning, we found out that Rosa had agreed to stay open for Monday Night Football, when the Patriots were playing Miami. “It’s a divisional game,” said EW. Evidently that’s important. We took an historical tour around Grenada on Monday, stopping for groceries on the way home. At the store we ran into four medical students who live in apartments close to another bar in the harbor. “They’re going to show the game outside tonight on a projector.” EW still planned to head to Rosa’s, but weather happened.

Just as we were walking down the driveway to da Big Fish, where our dinghy was tied, the heavens opened. It poured. For over an hour we had a rain storm such as I’ve not seen in months. We wisely stayed in the bar with our friends and waited. Near the end of the storm, one of the cruisers arrived from Rosa’s place and told us that she had a small flood going on. No football there.  But, thanks to the med students,  EW knew where to find the game. We had planned that after the storm, Bob would dinghy in to meet EW and I’d take our dinghy and groceries home. Instead, EW pumped the dinghy, took me to the boat, and picked up Bob from his boat. At nine-thirty, they headed in to join the college guys at the Tiki Bar, for beer, French fries, and the divisional game.

Even in paradise,football happens. Go Bills.

 

NOTE: A very bad thing has happened. Our camera isn’t working. We hope it’s the battery and will have a new one next week. In the meantime, no photos from me, I’ll have to rely on the kindness of others.

Cheers!


Living the Good Life on a Crewed Yacht Charter aboard Magic Inspiration

Provisioning is not my best thing. The thought of trying to plan meals and purchase food for three and six months out makes me sweat. I don’t even plan all that well for a week of meals for two, which is why we have popcorn for supper at least once a month. EW is a saint.

As for clean. My boat is generally clean. No one has been grossed out or gotten sick on my boat, but few have stepped aboard and been impressed by its pristine condition. I don’t do pristine.

This is why I have such respect for the cruisers we’ve met who offer their boats for charter. Their white cockpits are spotless, and when they are under charter, the designated chef plans, provisions, and provides three full meals a day, with drinks, appetizers, and desserts at every evening meal. They even garnish. I don’t do garnish.

EW would be a great captain on a charter yacht, but I told him he married the wrong woman for that lifestyle. We have a number of friends who make it look easy. (I’m not fooled, but I am impressed.)

Here’s an email we received from Jeff, Captain of S/V Magic Inspiration AKA “Bwana” the leader of our fateful six hour hiking trip.

I wanted to follow-up on the Seven Sisters hike for this Wed.Since this is only expected to be about 2 hours round trip, plus a stop at the falls, we probably don't have to start too early.  We are thinking of meeting at the downtown bus terminal at 10:30, that will put us at Grand Etang around 11, and then the hour hike to the falls would put us up there for lunch/swim around noon, then returning down when ready.  
 

Then, if you're up for it, would love to have you over for early dinner and dominoes or cards......there are a few recipes we need to try out, and need some victims :)   So you could shower here, etc...  Thought it would be better to do this in one trip for you, but we could always get together a different day if you prefer.  Dora and John will hopefully join us for the day and evening as well.

Any allergies or issues with these?
  
Stuffed Bacon Jalapeno Poppers
Chilled Avocado Soup
Crab Quesadillas
Banana Corn Fritters
Warm Coconut Custard Pie

Yes! It didn’t take us long to respond. EW and I have no food allergies and few things we won’t eat. This sounded like a nearly perfect day. And yes, we still trusted Jeff to lead us on another hike – and even believed him about the two-hour thing.

One of the interesting and challenging things about living in Grenada for the summer is that there are many beautiful anchorages and good marinas along the southern coastline so boats are spread among the different harbors. Magic Inspiration and Windrifter have opted to stay on the dock in Port Louis Marina, a 20 minute bus ride from our anchorage in Prickly Bay. It’s easy and cheap to go back and forth by bus, as long as we remember to leave for home before 10:00 PM, when bus service stops.

Seven Sisters Crew 8-31-2011 10-55-53 AMVicky and Bob from Fox Sea joined us for the hike and the four of us met up with Dora, Jeff and Sandy at the main bus terminal in St. George’s, where we were hustled aboard a number 6 bus. Hustled was the word as the buses are private vehicles and the driver wanted our seven fares. At least one person was bumped from our bus and we were squeezed in with 16 other people. Two sat in front with the driver, four adults in each of the four rows, with two children on their mother’s lap, and two babies in their mothers’ arms. Everyone took this with good grace – except for the young woman who was bumped from the bus in order to allow all of us to go. The driver clearly felt that losing one fare was better than losing 7 fares. We all felt sorry for the young woman and would have gladly waited for the next bus.

We paid at the entrance to the Seven Sisters Trail, borrowed walking sticks from the pile by the door and set offseven sisters falls 8-31-2011 11-17-53 AM. The first quarter mile or so was along a farm road as the entrance to the falls is on private property. A petite farmer with huge waders and a machete welcomed us and repeatedly told us to stop back and get our shoes washed on the way out. “Lot of mud. Lot of mud,” he said. He was right. There had been downpours during the previous two nights, and much of the trail was muddy. Unfortunately, so were the falls and, while we enjoyed the cool mountain air, the hike, and the camaraderie, we did not swim in the brown water. We hiked, explored, took photos, ate, told stories and laughed – an excellent day.

Seven Sisters Brook Hike 8-31-2011 12-30-09 PM

 

7 Sisters Kenny and Me 8-31-2011 2-33-23 PMOn the way out, Kenny appeared with machete in hand as soon as we reached the small bar (closed) at the edge of the farm. “Come. Come. I wash shoes.”  Sure enough, Kenny had clean water in a five gallon bucket with a big sponge. One by one we put each foot up on a rock and Kenny cleaned the mud off. He was handsomely tipped. EW and I talked with Kenny, who shared some of his spices and tea leaves with us, and gave me a handful of nutmeg. “Folks don’t ask about my farm,” he said. “I am blessed. I give you dis.” He also suggested we take a photo with him. I wasn’t kidding when I called him petite. The hug surprised me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Sisters Sangria 8-31-2011 4-52-29 PMBack at Port Louis, I thoroughly enjoyed the shower and even used the hair dryer provided by the marina. It’s been a long time since I'd styled my hair. Jeff had showered quickly and was completing his white wine sangria – a trial recipe not mentioned in the invitation. Oh my goodness. I told them that this would be the perfect welcoming drink for their guests’ first night aboard. Nothing can go wrong after you have one (or two) tumblers of this sangria.

Jeff and Sandy are new to chartering, and clearly this life agrees with them. The are an excellent team, and take their guests’ happiness seriously – even with the guests are cruisers/guinea pig/freeloaders. Sandy had prepared the dinner the night before so she could enjoy the hike and each course was beautifully presented with no apparent effort.  That’s another thing I don’t do – presentation. I plate, I don’t present.

 

Each dish was offered in turn and the six of us would savor, chat, praise the cook and make suggestions. We Seven Sisters Poppers 8-31-2011 5-28-40 PMgreatly enjoyed the jalapeno poppers. Anything that combines spicy with bacon is A-OK with EW.

Sandy served the chilled avocado soup with the corn fritters and we all agreed they wouldn’t be served together on a charter. I definitely liked Sandy’s plan to use the fritters as a starch on pork loin night. Jeff then slipped an extra course in between the soup and the quesadillas because he wanted to try making a smoothie/sorbet. “You know how restaurants offer sorbet between courses,” he said. “Well we can’t keep sorbet in the freezer but I think a small serving of a tart strawberry/mango smoothie would work.”

P8310095We can attest that it works very well, indeed. If I were the kind of person who offered sorbet to my boat guests, I’d make them a tiny smoothie. Of course you have to have tiny dishes for the smoothie – and cute little spoons – forget it.

Sandy and Jeff have a catamaran and take up to six folks on a charter. They have way more serving pieces/drink glasses than I do. In our home, I had a renovated kitchen and serving sets that included Depression Glass. Here I have five multi-colored baskets and one pewter tray. The wine glasses double as juice glasses or vice/versa. I am so not a charter chef.

The quesadillas were perfect, followed by domino lessons for Sandy and Jeff. They’ve been playing cribbage with guests, but that isn’t a game for a crowd and Trini Mexican Train Dominoes will give their guests a real cruising experience. We paused at the half-way point for warm coconut custard pie – to die for. In between courses, Jeff would clean up from the previous course, so the galley looked nice at the end of the meal, something else that doesn’t happen on my boat. I am so not cut out to run a charter.

We had such a good time, savoring every bite and playing dominoes that it was 10:40 before we knew it. The bus system officially stops at 10 and we still had two rounds of the game to go. Sandy insisted we stay over. They turned the air conditioning on in “our” cabin. It was heaven.

Seven Sisters Mango 8-31-2011 5-31-17 PMSandy, Jeff, and Mango offer a crewed charter aboard S/V Magic Inspiration, based out of the British Virgin Islands. We can highly recommend them – and suggest you make sure they offer the sangria, the chilled avocado soup, and the coconut pie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandy graciously emailed me the recipe for the soup and told me I could share it, so I am. Here you go:

Note that she includes the garnish. She’s like that.

Sandy’s Seven Sisters Chilled Avocado Soup (I named the soup. I’m good at that.)
(This recipe makes 4 first course servings)
Ingredients:
1/2 seedless chopped cucumber
1 peeled and pitted avocado
1 chopped shallot (or about 2 tbsp. chopped red onion)
2 tbsp. plain yogurt
4 tsp. lime juice
1.5 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 cup cold water
Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.  Chill for at least one hour.
Garnish with dollop of sour cream and lime zest.....yum!

 

And now for the FCC disclaimer: Jeff and Sandy were surprised I wanted to write a post about our day with them. Other than the wonderful meal, I was not compensated for this post in any way. We are friends.