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This is the life

No seriously. This is the life :

1) Yesterday when leaving the land at Union we forgot to raise the dinghy stern anchor. No obvious protest as the anchor came up of the ground. Only realised as dinghy was running slowly. The anchor had been spinning through the water unwinding the three strand rope attaching it to the dinghy. As the three strands unwound, the individual strands coiled around themselves further. Result: the rope became a mess of clumped up strands. Took me about an hour of rope stretching, coiling, uncoiling, massaging to fix.

2) Last nights sleep was lousy resulting from being woken approx once an hour by bilge alarm. Checked things out at first light only to find port shaft seal leaking. Gentle prodding turned small drips into steady trickle. Leak must have been building for some time as it has corroded parts of my ground plane installed last November. Remedial action so far has been to slightly compress seal with cable tie and to work grease between seal and shaft while shaft was rotating. I’ve also cleaned and raised corroded ground plane for SSB to minimise further damage albeit at probable cost of effectiveness. Drip is now occasional and under observation. Hopefully drip can be triaged until August when we plan to haul Dignity for bottom painting, etc. Unfortunately this is right under our berth. We may have to move cabins to ensure ready access to shaft. Big thanks to Jim down in St Georges with whom I’ve bounced around ideas.

3) The birds round here seem to be ‘trained’ to expect food on and in boats. Where birds go, so they shit. We’ve found two splodges already.

So far we have done none of the things we wanted to today. I feel tired and grotty.

*This* is the life.

Grenadines Tracks

Here are our tracks through the Grenadines.

View 2009 Grenadines in a larger map

Checked out of St Vincent & The Grenadines

Yesterday we checked out of St Vincent. Kind of a slow morning as we were waiting for some communications from family. When we went in we bumped into Cat Tales and had a little chat before heading off to the customs office for clearing out. After this it was time for lunch so we had rotis at a local place in town – very inexpensive and quite tasty.

In the afternoon we sailed over to Petit St Vincent. It was upwind and while at first we made good progress tacking against the wind, the final mile or two was against the current too squeezing between PSV and Petit Martinique. We decided to motor this last bit. Three boats arrived almost together. The one nearest to us seemed to be picking the best spot in the anchorage so I headed for another. As we reached our destination this other boat squeezed through and stuck their anchor down too right by us. A bit cheeky I thought but then they may have felt the same about us. We shifted Dignity but weren’t happy with our spot so we left the cluster of boats where we were and headed around the island to another spot where we were the only boat. That is always nice.

We took a walk ashore along the beach before settling down for dinner then watching Captain Ron – quite a funny Kurt Russel movie, half of the laughs can be better appreciated as cruisers ourselves.

Today we’re off to Petite Martinique about a mike away. We may or may not head out to the nearby reef on the way.

Rain & New Friends

In the morning we headed into town to pick up some savories we have been without for a while. As we were entering town we bumped into Lorenta from Canada and her cousin, also from Canada, and ended up chatting for a while. While we were talking the heavens opened on us. I realized we’d left one of the hatches open possibly thinking it was nice and sunny and we would be out for only a few minutes. So we said our goodbyes, had a mad dash around and back to the boat to save everything from getting wet. Fortunately it wasn’t too bad. Normally we’re quite religious about shutting the hatches. Can’t let this happen again.

In the afternoon I dinghyied round to “Cat Tales” a catamaran we’ve been seeing from time to time as we’ve come down the islands. We though it was fine time to say hello. Dawn and Laurie were a fun couple and readily agreed to come aboard for ‘cocktails.’ Bees Knees had been delayed in their departure by the weather so we invited them over too. Everyone stayed till quite late. A good time was had all round. Hopefully we’ll see Cat Tales again soon.

Today we’re probably off to Petit St Vincent and Petit Martinique. But who knows. We still feel pretty loose about our agenda for the next week or so.

Out and About Union Island

Yesterday morning we were up and going shortly after 7am for our island hike. It’s been getting quite warm and humid and an early start seemed the best thing. Afternoon hikes in the hills can be quite exhausting as the rocks heat up during the day making you feel like you’re in an oven.

Going into Clifton we tied off our dinghy outside of Lambi’s Bar & Restaurant and were soon climbing the road out of town. Looking back at the anchorage the sun was still low in the sky but it was already getting quite warm.

We took the road that circled ‘The Pinnacle’ anticlockwise that soon turned into a dirt track – as we expected. At one point we missed a side turn where the path on was literally a path and ended up approaching someone’s house. Their dogs made it quite clear we had strayed too far. Back on the right path we continued our way around eventually descending on the town of Ashton.

Across the valley we could see the ridge and peak that were the target of our walk. Our guidebook suggested there was a track up to the ridge but when we asked locals we were given different pointers. One lady we spoke to, Lorrenta, turned out to have an interesting history. She was born on the island but now lived in Toronto. She had spent 4 years in the Uk training to be a nurse living very close to where we used to live in North London and actually working in the hospital where our children were born. Lorrenta asked the directions off of a friend called Fambo. He not only showed us the way but took us part the way too.

Climbing the ridge turned out to be very hard work. It was less than a 1,000 feet high which made the ascent minor in comparison to some of our recent hikes. However, the heat and humidity were really kicking in making the climb exhausting. Helen felt like she was having heat stroke towards the end of the climb. The views from the top made it all worth the effort though. The path was not maintained and the ridge top covered in cacti so we did have to be careful where we trod. From the ridge we could see Clifton in the distance and could look down on Ashton and an old abandoned half-built marina. The only sounds at the top were faint gospel music (it was Sunday) from Ashton and the odd crash as Iguana fell from their twigs. Unfortunately we could also see a higher peak which I felt compelled to climb. Helen, still suffering from the heat, took this as an opportunity to rest up.

I made my way up this higher peak. At first the trail was fairly obvious but I soon lost it and ended up following goat trails which, unsurprisingly, were made For Goats, By Goats, and hence meant everything above waist height had to be pushed through. Foliage in arid countries is somewhat defensive so I ended up being quite scratched.

I finally made it to the peak and was rewarded with a 360 degree panorama. Going down was worse than going up. I couldn’t even find the route I took going up and ended up slipping and sliding into cacti and thorns. I did find a better way up at one point. My hopes were raised as this suggested I had found the trail down. But I lost that too. Helen had got quite worried at the time it took me to get down again but I made it mostly in once piece.

Back down the trail in Ashton we picked up a couple of cold drinks then walked the coastal road to Clifton. We spent the afternoon relaxing before heading out to the bar on Happy Island to meet up with Anne and Jim for sundowners. They had arrived earlier in the day and are passing through on their way to Grenada.

Happy Island started in 2002 when it’s owner, Janti, built it up from the reef using conch shells and rubble. On it he built a bar which is very quaint. Nowadays he lives on the island with his girlfriend from Plaistow, London. We only met his girlfriend last night as Janti was laid up with a bad back from the latest island extension.

Right now it’s raining hard. Not sure what we will do today. Bees Knees are heading off today on a more aggressive schedule to get to Grenada than we have. We’ll see them again in a couple of weeks.