Sail from Eastern Caribbean to the ABC’s (Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao)

Its not a bit like flying

The wind speed and direction, current strength and direction, wave patterns and, in this instance, areas known for piracy, all contribute to when we sail and our direction of sail.

The red line shows the area we have been traveling for the past several years. The yellow line indicates where we were going. The red star marks approximately where we were starting our sail (Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines) and the yellow star marks Bonaire, our destination
The turquoise blue lines mark our actual sail path. First sail ~30 hrs St. Vincent to Guadeloupe. Second sail ~90 hrs Guadeloupe to Bonaire

The course we chose

We started with a short hop from Bequia to St. Vincent for the last of a series of dental appointments (another story) and then proceeded on our sail to Bonaire. Our trip was broken into two sections. The first was an approximate 30 hour sail from St. Vincent to Guadeloupe.

Day break passing Dominica

We stayed in Guadeloupe for 5 days until we got a health check for Duhkxy (required by Bonaire) and the winds and waves calmed down. The second leg, from Guadeloupe to Bonaire, took three and a half days. This was, to date, the longest uninterrupted open water sail we have made.

I imagine some will wonder why our heading was not more direct from St. Vincent to Bonaire. This is certainly possible, and cruising friends did just that a short while after we made our trip.

Wind – The Trade Winds come consistently from the east +/- slight deviations north or south. For our sail, the wind speed was low to mid-20s. A direct route would require that we sail with the Trade Winds behind us for the entire trip. Sailing speed is entirely based on the wind pushing the boat. Having the sails angled to the wind is optimal as the wind passing by the sail provides “lift” and greatly improves speed. In order to get far enough west to achieve an optimal angle, the beginning of our sail was with the wind directly behind us. Ice Floe moved right around 5 knots, even as the wind was blowing in the 20s.

Day 1 – Ice Floe sailed with butterflied jibs downwind at approximately 5 knots

Day 2 brought a welcome shift in the wind direction slightly to the south, allowing us to readjust the sails and set a path directly to Bonaire earlier than planned. Wind speed remained the same, but Ice Floe sailed for the balance of our trip at 7 to 8 knots, her top speed; arriving at our destination in 2 and a half more days. We had planned for a 4-5 day continuous sail and finished in 3 and a half days. We did motor sail for a part of the last day to ensure we came in before dark as our destination was new to us.

Based on recommendations from cruising friends we took approximate 6 hour shifts during the night and each caught up on lost sleep with a nap during the daylight hours.

Waves -the forecast called for 4-5 foot waves. We had 5-8 foot waves and a confused sea on our second leg of our trip. Confused seas are when waves are coming from multiple directions. When they intersect you get a larger wave like the 8 foot waves we experienced on an occasional basis. Dependent on where they have formed and how they hit Ice Floe, they often give a wash over the bow, or stern. A side or stern spray can give us an unwelcome bath in the cockpit. it was not optimal, it was also tiring, but it was not ever dangerous.

Pirates – There have been periodic reports of Pirates from Venezuela assailing cruising vessels and the course we set minimized our time close to the Venezuela islands and coastline.

Bonaire first impression

The first question we have been asked by almost everyone we meet in Bonaire is “Do you dive?”. We answer “Once upon a time, now we snorkel.” Bonaire is almost entirely a marine park and is renowned for its vibrant sea life. The themooring field is set along the drop off from shallow to 800 foot deep water with a spectacular underwater wall teeming with brightly colored corals..

The 800 ft precipitous drop-off is where the turquoise blue water (shallow with sandy bottom) meets the ledge of the drop-off and you see the deep dark blue water

We spent a wonderful day snorkeling and look forward to many more.

A Whirlwind of Change, Challenges, Despair and Hope

Go With The Floe is not intended to be a political blog. I write it for Family and Friends who follow our sailing adventures. I write it for George and myself, to read down the road and help us relive these adventures. That said, there are times when situations in the World are so impactful, so momentous, so seemingly impossible, that I cannot help but put into words my emotional reaction. The last several years have delivered realities that each, and collectively were not even faintly on my radar. To steal a phrase from the iconic “Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”, “Who turned on the Improbability Drive?” Whoever it was, Please turn it off.

The 2016 Election

Donald Trump’s election in 2020 rocked my world. I could not imagine a more unlikely choice given the popularity of our prior President, and, in my opinion, how ill-suited the Nation’s choice was, both in experience, and character. But so it was. Even more outside of my expectations was the fact that Donald Trump’s popularity did not dissolve under his presidency, and his policies were not checked by members of the Republican legislative branch. It revealed, and fueled divisions in opinions and beliefs I never could have imagined were so prevalent in our society.

November 10, 2020 – Divided Nation

A Worldwide Pandemic

Covid 19 spread rapidly to all corners of the earth. Every aspect of our lives was disrupted and many millions of lives have been lost and continue to be lost. Our Medical and Scientific communities’ were unimaginably swift in discovering the ways this new coronavirus simultaneously attacked multiple vital organ systems. This knowledge rapidly improved approaches to treatment. The development of several of the most specifically-targeted, efficacious, and safe vaccines ever seen before is an accomplishment that cannot be over-rated.

On November 11, 2020 concerns that dominated my thoughts were lifted. My sentiments then were summarized in https://Celebrating Biden’s Victory. Even my unease from seeing the anticipated third wave of Covid 19 take off was assuaged. I felt hope that with medical-science-based direction and vaccines on the horizon Covid would be vanquished.

November, 11, 2020 – Hope for our Democracy

Hopes for the New Year were sullied early on with the Jan 6th effort to negate the election results. The New Year had delivered a process whereby some of the safest and most effective vaccines ever made could be quickly administered, but the embrace of ludicrous conspiracy theories deprived a great fraction of our citizenry of their protection. The prevalence of misinformation continued with never-ending reasons for sadness and unease – hate crimes, police brutality, vigilanteism, bigotry, each in my mind, evidence of the failure of our educational system. 2021 ended and 2022 started with no discernible abatement from my perspective.

And now, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine. So often we try to see two sides to a situation. No clear right or wrong. Not this time. I see evil self interest with disregard for human suffering. However, our country, our President, and much of the world is faced with concerns that this mad man’s actions could not only lead to a Third World War, but a World War with nuclear weapons. So no White Knight, no happy ending, and no justice. It is hard for me to see the light.

Today – Disappearing Democratic Way of Life

Mayreau Rocks! – St Vincent and the Grenadines

A short aside on Provisioning

Not all islands within St Vincent and the Grenadines are well equipped for provisioning. As such we filled our larder well in Bequia before visiting the Tobago Cays, where, outside of their famous Beach Barbecue, there are no restaurants or food for sale. After our five days in the Tobago Cays we moved to Mayreau. We were still in pretty good shape, but after spending a wonderful week there, we were falling short on fresh vegetables and fruit. Mayreau is a beautiful island, with many, many attributes that I will describe in a blog devoted to the island, but a rich source for provisioning, it is not. It’s a short hop from Mayreau to Union Island, which we had not yet visited, so we decided to set sail.

A Welcome Surprise

Before going we took Duhkxy to a small beach to do his business. The cliff face behind this beach surprised us with its beauty. It is comprised of an amalgamation of many type of rocks with extraordinary range in color, and texture. One type is often separated from another very different type by thin veins of still another type.

Earlier, on a hike around Mayreau, an overlook drew our attention to a shore line of beautifully colored and smoothed stones. The shape of the beach provided a hamlet for continuous wave action to tumble the rocks that had been dislodged from the cliff face. We spent an hour or two assembling a representative collection for our memory and to share with you.

There are so many delights in life and in Nature and we encourage all to take pause to see them, appreciate them, and be thankful for them.

The Tobago Cays, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

We arrived in the Tobago Cays (pronounced Tobago Keys) on February 27th and have been here 6 days as I am writing. The Tobago Cays are a cluster of 5 small, uninhabited, islands that lie within a protected marine park. People who work in the Tobago Cays typically live on the nearby islands, Union Island and Mayreau.

St Vincent and the Grenadines are an Island Nation comprised of the large island of Saint Vincent and 32 islands within the Grenadines. Grenada’s sister islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, while part of the iIsland nation of Grenada, are also two of the Grenadine Islands.

The Tobago Cays are bordered on the east by World’s End Reef and Horseshoe Reef. These reefs calm the waters between the Cays, providing anchorages for the many yachts and tour boats attracted to the beautiful waters. During our visit, when high tide combined with strong winds, our anchorage was often unsettling.

Turtles

Snorkeling among the many Green Turtles was, in and of itself, worth our visit. Green turtles are the only herbivorous species of sea turtle. Their diet consists mainly of seagrasses and algae, though they may also forage on sponges, invertebrates, and discarded fish. The density of Green Turtles in this area is due to the wealth of one of these primary food source, the thin blades of seagrass growing on the sandy bottom, along with nearby nesting grounds.

Green Turtle starting its ascent to surface for breath.

The seagrass beds are sparse in areas and can easily be mistaken for an ideal sandy bottom for anchoring. We made this mistake ourselves, only discovering it when we snorkeled. There are moorings available, but not a fraction of the number needed to meet demand. Anchoring in the grass beds is extremely damaging and the area that is cordoned off covers only a fraction of the grass beds the turtles feed upon. More moorings and a much larger cordoned off area is needed to protect this precious resource.

The waters in the Tobago Cays are crystal clear and reflect impossibly, gorgeous, hues of deep blue through turquoise.

Snorkeling Horseshoe Reef

We were saddened to find Horseshoe reef severely injured. Skeletons of massive, now dead, corals were made colorful with a variety of encrusting corals, sponges, and other invertebrates. There were also many small varieties of fish. It is worth a peak, but do so at a slack tide as the current is strong and swift.

The Island Fauna

Island wildlife (also protected) that we observed included large white and black iguanas and other lizards. Possum and tortoises also inhabit the islands.

Beaches

Every island has a stretch of meticulously, maintained, white sand beach.

Beach Barbecue

A very well-attended barbecue is offered every mid-day and evening. You will be invited and we would recommend you accept. We enjoyed a massive dinner of lobster, pork ribs, potatoes, rice, plantains and salad. A bar is available but you are welcome to bring your own liquid refreshments.

Our visit was cut short as winds picked up significantly and our anchor snubber broke in the middle of the night waking us with a very large bang as the anchor jerked tight and pulled more chain from the windlass. At first light we made a hasty retreat to a more protected anchorage in Mayreau at first light. Trying to replace the snuffer in winds of 20+ knots and a significant surge was futile.

Landlubber time is running out

With November upon us we began stepping up our plans to head back to Ice Floe. But first, there is one more visit to Michigan and Thanksgiving to share with family and friends. November, you must be thinking – it is already February.

An aside, I will do my best to catch you up on all the great adventures we have had this season in the Caribbean as soon as possible. Camera and photo and internet and emergency dental challenges have presented obstacles to summarizing the wonderful time we have been having here.

Sneak preview. Hanging out between dental appointments on Canouan

Brief Michigan Visit

George has an often-used phrase “Its on the way if you go that way”. That attitude has allowed us to sneak in visits with friends and loved ones en route to quite different destinations. On one such trip to or from Marilla’s and Mitch’s we made a quick stop at Allison’s and Mike’s for a day or two. We were able to see Riley participate in a climbing competition. She is strong and lanky and beautiful on the wall in the gym (or the side of a cliff).

We also had a chance to have Tristan try on the Halloween costume I was working on. It was a challenge for me with my deficiencies as pertains to any kind of orientation. All’s well that ends well and Tristan made a very fine dancing shark. Riley made herself up to be a little, pink, Piggy.

One of our favorite Halloween Persakins, Edna, was a fine model during construction of Tristan’s costume.
Tristan, Riley, and PD all ready for Trick or Treating
Tristan, the dancing shark

Thanksgiving 2021

We did not have a Thanksgiving Family gathering in 2020 due to the pandemic. To the best of my knowledge, it was the only year I celebrated Thanksgiving without family and friends. With almost everyone vaccinated, we felt comfortable gathering in 2021.

Conversations with several family members led to re-consideration of how we wanted to honor this tradition. Most participants were indifferent as to whether we celebrated on Thanksgiving Day. Switching up the date would mean the flights would be cheaper and airports less crowded. However, it did present challenges to children in school. Everyone was in favor of making it simpler. Some voted to have a family gathering independent of Thanksgiving entirely. In the end we decided to celebrate on November 13th and to move it to Florida. Our Floridian family members have born the task of flying for years.

The Best Laid Plans….. Covid Strikes Back

Susan, David and Brenna had to hold up the younger generation’s end as last minute Covid infections took out some who planned to come – Tristan days before he was eligible for vaccination, Mike, who caught it from Tristan and Brian. Marilla and Mitch, having vacationed with family for several weeks earlier in the year chose not to come.

That left us with several extra bedrooms and we filled them with friends, Diana, Ruth, Ann Marie and Matt. Sometimes we elect change and sometimes it is imposed by circumstances. Those who could not participate were surely missed, but the inclusion of these friends certainly marks our 2021 Thanksgiving as one of the very best.

Each Thanksgiving is unique and 2021 was remarkably different from all others. We spent an entire week together. Many brought contributions from home including breakfasts to please any pallet (pumpkin rolls, egg bites, waffles, English muffins, baked eggs, smoked salmon and cream cheese (and bagels))….

We simplified the menu, keeping some favorites (mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, string beans, roasted roots and added a cornbread and sweet potato casserole (no doubt I missed some).

Lunches throughout the week were a wide variety of “appetizers” which for prior Thanksgivings were saved for lunch on Thanksgiving day.

We reduced the number of pies to 6 and started eating Margaret’s contributions of lemon tart and peanut butter and chocolate pie BEFORE Thanksgiving day. We played board games that Marilyn brought and labored over a ridiculously difficult puzzle Susan contributed.

We took a walk through Robinson’s Preserve across the water from Ana Maria Island, FL, sighting many waterfowl and birds of prey.

We rested, gathered, shopped, ate, drank and thoroughly and completely enjoyed each other’s company.

And a week later, we were on a plane to Grenada.

Back Home and Gone Again (Part 2)

Visiting Marilla and Mitch in their new home

A week after Grandma’s Summer Camp we were on our way for a visit with Marilla and Mitch. They recently purchased a home in Flagstaff, AZ and it would be our first time seeing it.

George planned a leisurely pace for the trip, driving 7 hours each day and he reserved hotels for each night’s stay. What a wonderful change from our typical approach which had been to drive more like 10 plus hours, start looking for a town with a hotel that accepts dogs, is near our route, has a room, and won’t break the bank. Inevitably we would arrive near or after most restaurants were getting ready to close, search for something to eat, drop into bed and wake up the next day to do it all again. Our 7 hour drive turned our road trip from 3 exhausting days to 4 relaxing days with time to stop along the way for lunches, sometimes a walk and line up a dinner location / reservation before arriving at our hotel. Each day we enjoyed a relaxing dinner, a good night’s sleep, and got up refreshed looking forward to doing it all again! This is our new and improved road trip modus operandi.

Marilla and Mitch’s home in Flagstaff, AZ (Winter 2020)

It has certainly been an education seeing the challenges facing our children in purchasing a home. With interest rates so low, fixer-uppers are hot commodities. Buyers are lined up to pay over the asking price in cash. They’ll flip them in a matter of months and make a pretty nice profit. Next level up in price is not much better and it has been routine for buyers to offer more than the asking price. Contributing to the competition amid rising home costs are now also supply chain issues that have drastically reduced the construction of new homes. Yikes!!

Marilla and Mitch purchased a home about 20 miles outside of the center of Flagstaff. Our visit was in early September (2021). The area is described as “high desert”, with an elevation around 7000 feet and limited precipitation outside the summer months when the native vegetation comes alive. In Marilla’s and Mitch’s case, the vegetation turned out to be predominantly Russian Thistle, otherwise known as, tumbleweed.

Two plus acres of tumbleweed
Manzi (right) and Ooni (left) in a winter field of Blue Grama Grass. OOni was added to Marilla’s and Mitch’s family a while after our visit, but I wanted everyone to meet him.

Russian thistle is native to southeastern Russia and western Siberia and was originally introduced into the United States as a contaminant of flax seed in South Dakota in the early 1870s. The seed is spread when mature plants detach at the base and are blown along by the wind. A large Russian thistle plant may produce more than 200,000 seeds. It also spread great distances in railroad cars transporting cattle. Within 20 years, it had spread to 16 western states and several Canadian provinces.

Russian thistle can quickly establish itself in disturbed soil, at the near exclusion of most other plants. It is much less successful in areas with established native vegetation. Luckily, it is an annual, and with persistence, can be eradicated and replaced by native vegetation. Time will tell, just how much persistence as Marilla and Mitch plan to return their 2 acre property to fields of the native Blue Grama Grass and the many beautiful wildflowers that thrive in the summer months.

We all set right off to pulling the obnoxious Russian Thistle and collecting wildflower seeds. During our visit, we collectively weeded out the Russian Thistle from about half of their 2 plus acres. Within a couple of weeks after we left, Marilla and Mitch polished off the rest.

Marilla and Mitch purchased enough Blue Gramma grass seed to heavily seed the weeded fields in the late fall and early spring in addition to purchasing and collecting wildflower seeds. We are very excited to visit again to see the progress.

Mitch and George also installed a beautiful new wood stove and a door on their front porch that enters into the garage. I took on a fun project of stripping an alarming array of bold wallpaper borders (very satisfying).

Marilla and Mitch are still waiting on some of the living room items they bought (supply chain delays) but they have made short work of transforming the living room (see below, before and after photos).

Well, we all know what is said about “All work and no play”.

George, Duhkxy and I took some time off to visit Zion National Park, one of Marilla’s and Mitch’s favorite for hiking and camping. It was our first visit. We stayed at the Zion Canyon (pet friendly) Lodge in the town of Springdale, UT. Springdale offers a free shuttle up and down the Main Street of town and, just a couple of minutes ride away, to the entrance of the park.

Springdale, UT
Zion Canyon Lodge, Spingdale, UT

Duhkxy was restricted to a short portion of the park just outside the entrance along a bubbling river bed.

Luckily, most restaurants welcomed him and he enjoyed long walks in the morning and evening. On one of Duhkxy’s morning walks, George and he encountered several tortoises. Just my luck – I slept in.

Some of the “wildlife” has become all too familiar with humans, and despite repeated messages to not interact with the animals, people find it difficult to ignore the brazen antics of the squirrels and chipmunks in hopes you will reward them with a treat.

We enjoyed an assortment of walking trails and hikes each day. Our first hike “Emerald Ponds” takes you high providing scenic views with water features.

We had dinner out every night and restaurants were plentiful and covered the gamut of cuisine and settings from the most informal to decidedly fancy. Every meal was wonderful. Virtually every restaurant was more than happy to accommodate Duhkxy. One evening just as we returned from a gorgeous and exhausting hike, we rode the shuttle back lusting after a tall fresh brew. Not only were we disappointed to find the first brew pub closed, we learned that a power outage affecting the entire town had resulted in most restaurants having shut down for the night. We returned sadly to our room and called one restaurant after another getting no answer or the answer that they were closed for the evening. There was one left – a ways out of town, with a $$$$ rating and super fancy. We called and they were not only open, they said they could “Certainly accommodate Duhkxy”.

We were seated in an outdoor area just outside the windows in the next photo.

We made a grand night of it sharing a delicious sparkling wine and fabulous meal. George hit the jackpot with his order of rack of lamb.

Rack of lamb at the Switchback Grille, Springdale, UT

We made our first acquaintance with an unusual bird that repeatedly dunks its head underwater to catch insects.

On our final day we took “The Narrows” trail that follows a river up an ever-increasingly narrow canyon. We did not quite make it to the end where we understand it is less than 6 feet wide, but we certainly made a good effort and had a wonderful time.

Returning to Marilla and Mitch we capped off a wonderful visit with a paddleboard/kayaking trip on the Colorado River. Marilla and Mitch had taken this trip earlier on paddle boards, both paddling up-river and then back down. We accompanied them on this trip in which a boat took us up-river and we kayaked back down. Lest you think less of us, we were subjected to a lengthy downpour and the river water was quite chilly.

Manzi, as comfortable and surefooted on the paddle board as her parents did not hesitate to move around and switch boards.

Along our way we jumped on shore to view some very well preserved petroglyphs.

The steep cliffs bordering the river changed hue as clouds obscured the sun and daylight began to wane.

Long day filled with beautiful sights, memories, and friendship. Mitch drove on the three hour ride back while we filled ourselves with what was left of lunch and snacks, followed by a blissful, deep sleep.

Our visit ended with a birthday party for Manzi who enjoyed a cheeseburger for dinner with ice cream for desert. Duhkxy loves visiting Manzi.

Back Home and Gone Again (Part 1)

We returned to our home on May 7th, 2021; 1 year, 5 months, and 2 days after we left. Our lengthy stay in Grenada afforded us haven from Covid. During our stay Grenada saw very little of the disease, and none in Carriacou, one of their smaller islands, where we spent almost the entirety of our time. Despite a few bouts of homesickness, it was pure pleasure to get to know the island, its citizens, and make new sailing friends.

Back to Gardening

When we arrived home, our great friend and house sitter, Diana, had already planted half of our vegetable garden. I was longing to get my hands in the dirt and there was still plenty to do. I so very much enjoyed gardening again and the bounty of fresh vegetables every day. Late in October, as we were beginning to put the garden away, a great blue heron paid us a visit.

Gotta see the kids – Upper Peninsula, MI.

We got our first vaccination two days after arriving home Once we were fully vaccinated we headed off for a vacation in the Upper Peninsula (UP), Michigan with our daughters, son-in-laws and grandchildren. We all took a dip in the frigid waters of Lake Superior, none as brave as those who jumped from a clifftop.

Our granddaughter Riley planned this entire vacation; location, VRBO, restaurants, and excursions. We hiked, watched Marilla, Mitch, Riley and Tristan climb, toured a copper mine, ate our fill of pasties and ice cream, cooked and ate great meals and exhausted our dogs. The UP is a unique and very beautiful part of America.

Riley and Tristan joined us at home in August for two weeks of “Grandma’s” Summer Camp. This year, PD, their sweet yellow lab came along. For the first few days all Tristan wanted to do was play in the pool. PD cannot resist any water and joined in the fun. Margaret and Burt (my sister and brother-in-law) joined us with their lab Ana. Ana, decidedly, does not like the pool.

We visited Blue Marsh Lake to provide Riley and Tristan lessons on rowing a small boat. They mastered rowing in circles almost immediately and slowly made their way across the lake in this circuitous manner. They subsequently made great strides in rowing more efficiently.

We made bird houses from bottle gourds, and creations from my shell collections.

We spent a day at Longwood Gardens, fulfilling a promise we made at a previous Summer Camp.

No summer camp is complete without a trip to the Oley Dairy for ice cream and to visit their petting zoo.

As summer camp neared its end we hit the road to take Riley and Tristan home. Riley became suspicious as to why we were leaving a day ahead. She and Tristan peppered us with questions until they got enough clues to conclude that somewhere along the way, we were meeting their Mom and Dad. Riley then solved the mystery of where we were going. Based on the route we were taking and her long-held wish she announced we were going to visit the Columbus, Ohio Zoo.

It was now nearly September and we had past the midway of our 6 month stay in the US. The time flew by but our joy in visiting with our children lasts forever.

Counting Down to Homeward Bound

My spirit is soaring between the sweet anticipation of going home and the bittersweet enjoyment of an incredible experience coming to an end.  We have been in the Caribbean since December 5th, 2019 – initially trapped by Covid, and subsequently waiting for a relatively safe time to fly home.

Our sailing has been constrained to Grenada for the past year when the travel between Caribbean islands became too restrictive and/or expensive to temp us.  This change of events provided us with a previously rare experience to connect more fully with fellow sailors and Grenadians. 

Serenaded by Grenadian on the Shimmy Shack porch
Our great friend and lockdown companion, Herbert on a hike to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls
Lea and Roland on a group hike to the sinking graves organized by Peter and Sally
Michele and Glen on our first dinghy drift

We experienced the changing seasons accompanied by the coming and going of birds, flowering plants, weather, seasonal fruit and vegetables and island traditions and holidays.

Laughing gulls were nowhere to be seen in Carriacou from late December, 2020 until arriving in droves on March 11, 2021

We watched a lovely gesture started by Allison at Paradise Beach Club in creating a row of signs depicting boat names for her dedicated customers during lockdown, expand subsequently into a decorative wall documenting the many boats passing through. Sailors are invited on Wednesdays for Allison’s trademark “Sip and Paint”. Allison supplies the wood and the paint.

Wall of artwork documenting visiting sailboats and tourists at Paradise Beach Club

We have hiked many of the well-worn trails and some less traveled by; the two below, detailed in earlier posts.

Hiking Carriacou – Paradise Beach Club Route

A Hike from Grenada Marine

One of the best consequences of living here for more than a year has been our growing friendship with a French Canadian couple, Sophie and Richard. They introduced us to Train Dominoes and we play with them and many other devotees as much as possible. It combines the elements of chance and skill such that even a novice may sometimes do well.

The beginning “trains” of seven players. On this occasion, George was in last place half way through and wound up winning. When more than seven come to play, additional tables are set up and the highest and lowest scoring players switch tables at specified rounds of the games.

We recently booked flights home May 7th.  While counting the days until we can see our loved ones again, we are packing in as much fun as possible.  We recently sailed from Carriacou to Grenada and have been bay-hopping between St. David’s, Prickly Bay, Woburn Bay (aka Clark’s Ct. Bay), and now Port Louis. Each bay/marina is distinctly different and, in each, it was fun reconnecting with friends who were likewise moving from time to time.

The sails between these bays are short hops and sometimes we make a day of it by sailing way out into the 1000+ feet deep water while fishing.  Other than quite a few barracuda earlier in our stay, I haven’t been enjoying much luck. I never get completely discourage; One of my frequent statements is “You can’t catch a fish if you are not fishing”.

Fishing has been a challenge recently as the sargassum is getting prevalent. On our trip from St.David’s to Prickly Bay we sailed way out and spent a great deal,of time pulling in lines that had snagged huge burdens of weed.  With the boat sailing at 7 knots and rolling over 6 foot waves, it is hard work to bring the lines in.  I persevered and was rewarded.

While pulling in a line I suspected had weed on it, two large mahi jumped out of the water and landed 10 or more feet away, each in an arch from the opposite directions toward the middle of the stern.  At the instant they re-entered the water, one hit the line i was bringing in.  As we troll unmanned lines, this is an infrequent thrill.  I reeled her in and she was a lively acrobat; jumping and diving in her attempts to throw the hook.  We got her in and subdued with vodka and only then discovered we had a second mahi on our other line.  Both were a nice size (~ 30 inches).  It just doesn’t get any better than that!!

A monster
Mahi are beautiful fish
Mahi Sashimi with toasted sesame seeds, and a drizzle of sauce composed of soy sauce, toasted sesame seed oil and wasbi – YUM

We are down to the last two fillets that we will enjoy blackened one evening with the blackening seasoning my brother Michael introduced us to. I already have my hopes set on our sail in the next couple of days to Carriacou. I am certain I’ll have luck on this 6 hour passage.

Sailing in Retirement

Our post-retirement choice to spend much of each year sailing has to be one of the best decisions we have ever made.  We love to travel while learning about the culture, cuisine, lifestyles, flora & fauna and history of our destinations.

Our daughter, Marilla, says we look like we photo-shopped ourselves into this scene. NOT TRUE!!!

We treasure the opportunities to meet new people who appreciate events from uniquely different perspectives than ours.  This takes time.  Bringing our second home along affords us endless destinations and our own timeline.

Duhkxy attracts a great deal of attention

We also love being under sail – the quiet, wind-powered, motion of sailing on tranquil days and the challenges afforded on blustery days and high seas.  Neither of us get seasick (knock on wood).

Be advised, boat maintenance is part of the package.

In addition to endless cleaning and polishing, boat malfunctions and repairs are as much a part of the experience as the excitement and leisure.  Get together with other cruisers and the conversation will invariably touch upon each other’s current boat problems and often great stories of past mishaps and near disasters.

Once again, our refrigerator, on its coldest setting, is struggling to keep the temperature near 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Centigrade).  This after having the refrigerator on three occasions found to be low on coolant, re-charged, and checked for leaks (none found). We also installed a new compressor and ventilation.  A funny thing about this is that two cruisers we have become friends with are meeting with the same refrigerator serviceman after us on consecutive days for exactly the same recurrent problem.  A third sailing couple we have befriended managed this same recurrent problem for two years by recharging the fridge themselves until the leak became large enough to be found and repaired.

Best to know your way around electronics and computer technology

Our plans this morning were to sail beyond Petite Martinique into the great depths of the Atlantic Ocean and catch some mahi mahi, tuna, or what have you.  We are approaching the end of our monthly WiFi data allotment so George decided to “quickly” install a couple of updates to our navigational software (wind, speed, direction…).

1.  Find thumb drive and move data to other device

2.  Download software updates – Monitors do not recognize data 

3.  Troubleshoot – solution, must use Foxfire to download

4.  Download Foxfire and software updates.

Here is where it gets interesting

5. B&G monitors in the cockpit are glued in.  Access requires disassembling ceiling in head; invariably this type of work disrupts most areas within the cabin.

6. Install updates – One USB port did not have enough space for thumb drive.

7. Download to smaller thumb drive (thanks Herbert) and complete data installation – Success!!

8. Instruments show no data – Troubleshoot – on phone with B&G technicians – 3 in total – success!!!

Decide to replace ceiling clamps broken by over zealous workmen who installed traveler

Discover ceiling clamps are glued in. Replace with alternate type of clamp and put ceiling back in place.

3:30 pm – We will go fishing tomorrow.

It is sometimes frustrating, but for the most part it is all part of the “adventure”.

The refrigerator is still not working properly.

Trigger Fish and Fishing Bats

Trigger Fish

After spending a fun-filled week in Tyrell Bay we returned to Sandy Island and were astonished to find that our most favorite, as well as everyone else’s favorite, mooring was open. Life is good.

Getting ready to swim to shore I was dangling my feet off our swim platform and felt a very painful stab on my ankle. I caught a glimpse of the culprit – a trigger fish darting to the underside of Ice Floe. As many times as I put my hand or foot into the water, the fish darted out in attack-mode. I took a couple of photos from above the water.

My attempts to get a shot under water were met with immediate and swift attacks and many failed shots save these below that I managed to get before he/she banged headlong into the camera.

Silly triggerfish

There are 40 varieties of triggerfish and most are strikingly beautiful.

George and I have observed many over the years, but this is the first time we observed the characteristic aggressive behavior they are known for. Generally, it is felt to be associated with their defense of a breeding territory. This territory is conical from the bottom to the top so it is advised that if being attacked you move horizontally, rather than vertically.

Fishing Bats

One evening George was lifting our dinghy for the night. It had gotten quite dark and he had his headlamp on. As the light shined over the water he caught a glimpse of something large flying over the surface of the water. He called me to the bow and we both watched as several darted back and forth presumably scooping up the many small fry that frequently jump from the water. At the time we knew of no night fishing birds, and the flight pattern was typically bat-like so we immediately Googled “fishing bats”

It was a challenge getting a photo of the nasty triggerfish, but it was impossible to get my own of the Greater Bulldog Fishing Bat we observed that night – so I borrowed one from the internet.

They are decidedly not cute and if that is not enough, they are a very large bat. Their bodies are just shy 5 inches in length and they have a wingspan that can exceed 2 feet. They use echolocation to detect water ripples made by the fish and use the pouch between their legs to scoop the fish up and their sharp claws to catch and cling to it. They are found from Mexico to Northern Argentina and also most Caribbean islands.

We have been living in Grenada since December 5th, 2019 and rarely a day goes by that we do not observe or learn something new.