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Lazy day today

We need a rest so today we don’t intend to do much at all. Let’s see how that works out. Now to catch up.

Friday evening, while on the dock) we were joined aboard by the Where IIs, the Bristol Roses, the Arctic Terns and Diane from Jabulani.

It’s always pleasant when we have company aboard and this was no exception. The conversation was broad but the topic of batteries came up once or twice, either because I was getting the subject off my chest or others were interested.

Saturday morning was spent putting things away and/or back to where they should be. The removed drive battery was replaced and everything cleaned up and reconnected. Bar putting on a shackle (lent by Where II) to connect our new anchor to our new chain no projects were attempted yesterday. I did play catch up on some of my regular checks which have got a bit behind. Everything was fine. The morning was also spent catching up on ‘admin’ such as reading remote mail and paying bills – yach.

Late morning I paid and we said our goodbyes. We didn’t see Fletcher the very friendly night watchman but we promised to include his picture on the website – Hi Fletcher. We ate lunch aboard before setting off. Rene, who helps out a lot at Clarks Court Bay Marina, helped us leave. I showed him how an electric boat motors – no noise. I think he was impressed.

We then motored around to Prickly Bay as the winds were very low. The waters were calm so we glided along. At Prickly Bay we had our first chance to try our new anchor, a 57lb Manson Supreme. We’ve always been very pleased with our 44lb delta but even when it sets well there is always some hesitation as it ploughs its way into the sand. The Manson just set and let us know it was not going to budge without any hint of needing to settle in. The next test will be getting it out again. That won’t be for a few days. Our first impressions are very good.

We had an hour or so spare before we left for the Grenada Hash so we made a little water and this was when I caught up on my checks.

On our way to De Big Fish where we were going to leave the dinghy we popped by Sweet Caroline to congratulate them on their 50th wedding anniversary. At De Big Fish we bumped into the crew of Cirque de Soleil who we’d last met in Dominica and shared the Boiling Lake hike with (well – just Angie). We had a brief catch up before heading to the roundabout to catch a bus into town. In true local style we hadn’t quite made it to the roundabout when a local bus went past. The conductor had spotted us so the bus reversed and came back round the roundabout just to find out if we needed a ride. It seems crazy but it’s most welcome and a lot of fun.

We were soon down at the Caranage waiting for a pickup. Not long after we arrived, Mike and Jackie who we’d met on the first hash drove by on their way to the hash. They spotted us and soon we were chatting. They made room in their vehicle (they already had two passengers) and squeezed us in. This hash was not too far from town. The numbers were more than we’ve seen before, somewhere between 150 and 200 I reckon. A lot of these were new students at the St Georges medical school. We bumped into more cruisers who we’re beginning to recognize more including Jim from Bees Knees. I spent a little time on battery strategy with Jim (I have a one track mind at the moment).

The hike was basically a big scramble along what would be optimistically described as a single file track to the top of the highest peak around us and then a more leisurely descent first on a wider track and then on roads. Unfortunately we started near the back of the pack and many of the students were ahead of us. A number were out of shape and others kept stopping to take pictures which meant progress up the single track was incredibly slow. Whenever we could we skipped past the photo takers to try and pick up the pace. Along the way I lost my sunglasses as well as slipping over and getting a stick go in my eye (youch). I did take a photo when I couldn’t make any progress as the views were pretty good.

On the way I learned my reputation seems to be building. I was asked by Barb (a complete stranger to me at the point) if I was ‘the battery guy’. It seems that someone buying 36 golf cart batteries for their boat is becoming a talking point amongst the cruisers here. A few are beginning to show interest in my throwaways so I’ll be getting on the net soon to start lining up folks who would be happy to take old batteries off us and maybe even pay a little for some of the better ones. I met Diane (from the night before) once again and chatted for a while. Once we were on the road I ended up running the last mile or two. We’ve been constrained to the boat (mainly) for the last week and I felt the need to flush the system.

Back at the start we had a beer each but didn’t stop long as we had an urge for a Chinese meal at the restaurant near Prickly Bay. We started walking into town and made about a miles progress when a bus passed. On it were Devi & Hunter from Arctic Tern and Dianne and Barb. They had been more sensible and waited for the bus without walking. We parted company at the bus station as we had different onward busses to catch.

After dinghying back to the boat we showered then headed into Prickly Bay Marina to make our way to the Chinese Restaurant. It was a little further than we remembered – about a mile walk each way. The meal was very nice and the price even better.

Eventually, back on the boat it was straight to bed and to sleep. That was not without raising the dinghy as we usually do. I did open the drain between the inner and outer hulls and there was barely a trickle. I can close off the dinghy leak project – finally.

This morning my eye is pretty sore and red where the stick went in. Vision is unimpaired so I’m not concerned. Eye drops are helping so I’ll stick to that unless things get worse. I’ve checked on the house batteries. I never reconnected the worst battery. The charge levels this morning are the best we’ve seen. This will be some combination of the equalization and the removal of the crappy battery. The fact that the house batteries are worn as well as the drive batteries tells me they’ve had a rough life and it really is the best thing to replace the lot. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of adding the 4 spare batteries to the house circuit. That will really make life pleasant. The downside would be that we’d spend less time with them over 14V which means I could create a sulphation (or is it sulpatation) problem down the line unless I equalize periodically. If I do lose a cell somewhere I would have plenty of spare capacity in the house bank to remove a pair without suffering unduly until we can find a fair priced replacement. The future looks good.

So back to today. We don’t intend to do much. We think we’ve earned it.

Batteries

We’re now tied up at Clarkes Court Bay marina and have started a full equalization of all our batteries. We’ve already done this to the house banks a couple of times this year but never for as long as I’d have liked. This time should see us through a good stint without having to do this again.

My plan for the drive banks are to take three batteries at a time and parallel them up to make a 12V bank which I’ll then substitute for the house bank and repeat the equalization process. This also allows me to take the house bank off line and let them settle for 24 hours when I’ll give them a full test. That way I’ll know if I have any issues to attend to.

Other projects have been attended to today.

I have fitted an on/off valve on the pipe that allows water from one water tank to overflow and fill the other. This allows the water maker to top off both tanks. However, this does represent a risk. If for some reason our port tank becomes contaminated, this system could push the contaminated water over to the other tank and we could lose potability on both sides. Not a big issue when we’re close to somewhere to sail to and work on the problem but this could be a literal killer in the ocean. I had thought of buying a bunch of jerry cans to keep spare water in case this happened but in one of my many talks to Jim we cottoned onto the idea of simply isolating the tanks from each other. The valve I have put in allows us to do just that. So in the future, before setting off on a big trip, we’ll fill both tanks then isolate the port tank. We’ll live off the starboard tank refilling it when necessary. If we lose that, we can go over to the port tank and ration. As a backup, backup we have one jerry can, the water in the hot water tank and we’re ordering a handheld water maker for last resort. This project won’t be closed until I have tested the system to be sure no air locks are being created and water does still flow between the tanks when it’s supposed to.

Another item off the list is fixing the fast button for our electric winch. Turned out a connection had come loose. I squeezed the connector with my pliers and refitted it. It’s now on nice and tight.

I’ve also installed the replaced shackle for the topping lift line. It still looks a bit small and I’m not happy. Where II is in the bay near us. I may go over and look at how there’s is done before I close this one off.

Now that we’re on shore power we tested all four air conditioners. We had these put on for the years we expected to be in charter – not really for our selves. They need to be checked on and used from time to time just to keep them in order. I found two of them not working. In both cases it was issues with the sea water cooling line and in both cases I managed to fix the problem.

Trish and Rob from Bristol Rose popped over earlier to talk WiFi and other boaty things. Well – that’s what Rob and I talked about. It was during my showing him my AIS setup that I was able to spot the problem with my foot switch for the electric winch.

It’s getting near to 5pm which is happy hour here. Looks like we’re going. It’s also burger night tonight which was fun last time we did this about 2 months ago. Almost a different crowd by now. We know Hunter and Devi from Arctic Tern are here as Hunter helped us dock and we bumped into Devi earlier. Their boat is docked on the next pier. I believe they’ll be at burger night too. I’ll have to make sure I’m near Devi as last time I was able to swap my coleslaw for her chips.

Maintenance & Yoga

Quick catch up on last couple of days. Monday was an all out maintenance day catching up on lot’s of small things which, added up, took all day. Among the things done were:

  • Fixed the choke on the dinghy
  • Mounted, registered & tested the EPIRB
  • Installed remained of LED indoor lights
  • Mounted Magic Jack phone
  • Drained water from fuel filter
  • Oiled all the hinges and door mechanisms on the boat
  • Voltage and hydrometer tested all 12 drive batteries
  • Finally tidied up all my rubbish and stuff lying around

I didn’t get round to plugging the hole in or cleaning the dinghy.

Today started with Yoga hosted by Devi from Arctic Tern at Clarke’s Court Marina. The session was an hour long and included a variety of positions, some strenuous, some very relaxing.  We both ended up feeling quite relaxed.  The session reminded me of some of our karate warm ups back in the UK (10 years ago!!!!).  I kept thinking we’ll be doing a ton of press ups or a couple of hundred kicks next.

The hydrometer checks yesterday revealed some cells reading too low. Usually this means the sulphuric acid has sulphated onto the plates which can only be reversed by equalizing the batteries. This means charging them in isolation at 15.5V. The drive battery charger doesn’t do this so today’s mission was to find a charger on the island that did. Jim from Bees Knees accompanied me as he was looking for something similar. I was reasonably hopeful as one of the stores I called in the morning said they had one. So it was a matter of walking all around St George’s looking into various stores.

In the end we came up a big zero on the charger. Even the store that said they had what I was looking for didn’t. The day wasn’t a complete waste of time as I picked up some materials to beef up and expand the number of hand lines I have aboard. I also bought some additional leader wire and crimps to attach to the lures I bought in NJ. Best of all I learned that Island Water World will equalize batteries for you for free. If it turns out they’re not ok at the end of a nights charging they’ll gladly sell you a replacement.

Back on the boat I upgraded my two old hand lines giving them better bungees and I made up a further two hand lines.  I also put leaders onto all the lures I bought in NJ.

So all this dictates our next few days. Tomorrow morning we’ll motor back to Prickly Bay. During the day we’re off to the wholesalers to pick up beer and Ting’s (a local lime/grapefruit concoction I’m getting addicted to) and more food. Tomorrow evening we’re off turtle watching. On Thursday we’ll move the boat to St George’s so we can offload the batteries to Island Water World for charging. This may take us to Saturday where we will go on the moonlight Hash. With a bit of luck we’ll be heading north by Sunday or Monday with four lines out catching fish all the way.

Grenada Hash 2

Saturday morning was the shopping trip. We first dinghied ashore and walked around to New York Bagels only to find them closed on Saturdays. We kept on up to the main road where a bus had spotted us and was waiting, the conductor out on the street to hurry us on. We alighted at FoodFair and picked up as much as we could reasonably carry. So far we are minimizing the amount of frozen food we’re buying as we have yet to turn on the freezer and relying only on the fridge/freezer. From an energy budget purpose we can power all our refrigeration, lighting, water making and computer usage from solar as long as we don’t turn on the fridge.

Just after 1pm we picked up Jim from Bees Knees and made our way to the Caranage Café to be picked up for this weekend’s Grenada Hash. The location was about 15 minutes further on the road we took to Seven Sisters Falls yesterday so the route was familiar. We were collected by one of the St Georges University student busses so we had plenty of room. On the bus we got to know Scott & Joalie (check) from “Excuse Me” and Richard and Laila from “Nebula”. Scott and Joalie are avid wind kiters. It turns out we saw them (and they saw us) when we were anchored off Maria Island in St Lucia. Also on the walk were Devi and Hunter from “Arctic Tern”.

This hash was a lot more arduous than our first hash. It started with a steep climb with many having to take rests before reaching the peak. Even though we started around 4pm the heat and humidity did not help at all. Shortly after our steep climb we encountered an equally precipitous descent which was challenging in terms of trying not to fall on top of those below and to avoid those tripping and falling from above.

For a while things got a little easier although the general elevation of the walk seemed to be climbing inexorably upwards. We were presented with one or two ‘choices’ in route but given our position in the pack it was always obvious which was the wrong turn. I ended up losing Helen and catching up with Jim and when we were presented with the choice between the ‘Runners’ path and the ‘Walkers’ path we chose to walk the runners path as it offered more views and even though we were walking, we had a good pace.

We were treated to plenty of great views although from talking to Helen, who took the walkers (shorter) path they saw most of the same. We saw the old airport strip and beautiful lush valleys. High up we walked through a village with a partially built church with palm trees outside painted Caribbean style.

Eventually, all the climbing was made up with even more precipitous descents than encountered earlier. I managed to slip down a bit. One chap behind me lost his footing and somehow flew down the slope turning and twisting without falling. The ‘path’ we were on turned into a short jungle trail before following a rocky brook where we could avoid getting our feet wet hopping from rock to rock. We eventually made it down to river level where Jim and I caught up with Helen who had got ahead of us by taking the shorter route.

The walk followed the river for a while past thick rainforest and clusters of bamboo before coming within a couple of hundred feet of our destination: rest, food and beer. Our hopes were lifted only to find there was no direct route to our destination and it was back to hard climbing (and slipping) and descents through plantation.

We did finally make our destination. Many were pretty exhausted from the ordeal. The beer, BBQ chicken and oil down (local food) was most welcome. At the ‘devirginizing’ ceremony Jim was welcomed into the Grenada Hash and received his certificate as well as a liberal coating of beer.

After feeding and lubrication it was time to reboard the university bus.

As luck would have it the bus drove right by Grenada Marine where we had left the dinghy so our trip home was not only simple but also free – a cruisers delight. We dropped of Jim back at Bees Knees and it was back home to Dignity to rest though not before watching the first episode of the recent series of 24.

Here follows the slide show from yesterday with more pics than shown above. A reminder that if you click on the slide show you will be taken to the Picasa website where you can see the pictures much larger.

 

Happy Birthday and Au Revoir Anne

Yesterday evening we were invited out for dinner at De Big Fish by Jim for an early celebration of Anne’s birthday and to officially say goodbye as she’s off to Maine on Saturday morning. Devi and Hunter from Arctic Tern were there too. We had good food and a surprise cake. As ever, the company was excellent.

This is the downside of friendship while cruising. Good friends eventually say goodbye or at least au revoir. Anne will be coming back to Grenada in November but by then we expect to have headed west. We may again meet up in the western Caribbean but we can’t be certain. We will remain optimistic that this is not goodbye forever.

While we were eating, Scott had gone to town for some R&R. We had left him the dinghy to get back to Dignity. Around 10pm we received a call from him because he’d spent the last hour trying to start it and had, in great frustration, given up. Being a boat tech all his life he did not concede lightly. I made a general request for assistance on VHF 68, the local cruisers channel, and was answered by Sue & Bill from Unchained. Bill came to the rescue picking me up from Dignity and dropping me off at the dock where Scott was waiting. I managed to start the motor fairly quickly. Scott was feeling a little humbled by this. I think this was down to the broken choke which had I had jury rigged a while back and knew how to fiddle with correctly. I do have the spare part now so I’ll have to expedite this fix.

Thanks Bill.

The final piece of excitement missed in yesterday’s blog was the excitement surrounding my lost flip flop while on the dock at Prickly Bay Marina. Back in the US I had bought an extremely comfortable pair of flip flops. I had left them, with several others, on the port transom. A little while later we could only find one of them. We looked around the boat in case someone had moved it and came to the conclusion it must have been knocked or blown overboard somehow. We searched everywhere around the dock and I even went out in the dinghy to search. No luck. I was cross and despondent as I’d barely had them down here for 24 hours. Having given up the search we did find it. It was on the bed in our room. It must have been knocked through the small porthole by accident. Hurray.