13 January 2021

New Year's Howl

Atop Welcome Rock, Grenada!

Climbing to Welcome Rock.  The tour van below could only go so far.  Our legs did the rest, up to the peak and over to the sensational view from the rock.

We celebrated the Old Year at Zulu Time (Greenwich Mean Time) or 8:00 p.m. Grenada Time.  We were on a British boat so entirely appropriate for the host and for us cruisers whose circadian rhythms are very much based on the sun - up at 0600 and winding down at 1800.

Christmas dominoes on Milly with crowns made by Tony, each with it's own title.  This was our third Christmas celebrating with Lea and Roland - Istanbul, Gran Canaria and now Carriacou. We had three straight nights of celebration in our superb 2020 bubble. 

Christmas decorations on Milly.  We found a Norwegian-flavoured bearded elf at a Carriacou "soap" shop and just had to buy him to oversee the others.

We had returned to Tyrrel Bay where we spent the three months of our lockdown just in time for Christmas to spend with dear friends - our six person Covid bubble.  It felt like we were returning home - hello to the fruit/veg vendor in his newly expanded shack/store, a broad, almost toothless grin and welcome from the roti maker/chef and a dazzling smile from the owner of our favoured beach bar. 
The boat name wall at Paradise Beach Club began just after lockdown when we were among the originals, painted by the establishment.  Now Alysson hosts a "Sip and Paint" so others can add their names.  It will soon become as famous as Horta for cruisers.

And very familiar views!  It was a great place to celebrate when we couldn't be with family.

After Christmas, we spent two glorious nights anchored off Saline Island, a small privately owned paradise just of the coast of Carriacou.  The clearest water we had seen in a long time, perhaps ever, made even more spectacular by the full moon shimmering on the bottom about 6 m below and making visible the night life of the sea.  Truly incredible!

Milly at Saline Island named after the salt pond in the middle.  Glorious water - in the sea, not the pond!

Aquafit.  The drone could even 'see' my legs from at least 50 feet in the air.

Seclusion!  A very strong current, whirled and swirled around us on the port side while on starboard the water was strong and flat.  I could get my exercise by swimming in one spot on starboard or doing the front crawl to go backward on port.

That's Lovely behind his bar at Lovely's Vegan Restaurant, the only building on Saline.  Full bar with extensive grills.

A full vegan meal with six dishes - clockwise from the top - some sort of soy dish flavoured like baked beans, lentil stew, potatoes with hot garlic sauce, green salad, grilled pumpkin, callaloo.  All delicious. 

The shimmering bottom through 6 meters of water.  Amazing!

We were so secluded that Peter could wear his white bathing suit.

We, along with about 200 other boats made for the relative protection of Tyrrel Bay for the high winds forecast January 1st and 2nd.  It was already crowded when we arrived on December 30th with no wind to speak of, an unusual occurrence in the Trades.  The boats on anchor were floating all over the place, direction dictated more by a haphazard current than anything else.  It made anchoring a bit of a guessing game - how would boats sit once the wind came up?  By the next day we were too close to a neighbour and decided to move across the ferry channel where only one other boat floated instead of trying to find space.  Charting on that side was inaccurate although standing on the bow, I could see and, with some vigour, gestured Peter to stop and reverse but..too late, we ran aground.  I think Peter fell for the crying wolf phenomena - my previous and, admittedly, sometimes needless caution made him rely more on poor charts than on overcautious wife.  We both learned a lesson!

With deft handling of the motors, he got us floating again and we anchored but dragged for many meters before catching - always a bad sign.  Peter dove on it to find the anchor was partially under broken coral pieces (poor holding) and caught on a rock.  It held us for now but we didn't feel all that comfortable with soon-to-arrive wind.  When the Coast Guard came by to whoosh us away, it made our decision to move easier.  We had unknowingly anchored in the quarantine area reserved for boats coming from other island nations.

Back across the channel to the crowd on the other side.  Found a spot and anchored nicely in the middle between two boats.  However, the sailor on our starboard side watched with an eagle eye, gesturing for us to leave, while standing on his bow.  Seemed a little unreasonable given that we were well away from his boat and our swing took us further.  The anchor was plunked down in sand.  We did not see the need to move.  Peter again went to dive on the anchor and it was hooked under a huge, very heavy chain, snaking over the bottom, discarded from days gone by.  With some assistance from friends and a special device called an "anchor thief", purchased in the Med where it's so crowded neighbours chains over anchors is a common occurrence, we managed to pick up our anchor and drop it downwind of the enormous chain.  Now the anchor was buried deep into sand and we felt ready for almost whatever the wind gods planned to open the new year with.

As we were enjoying our bubbly post Zulu New Year's, we could hear the wind come up.  Time to be off to cocoon and anchor watch on our own boats.  

Over the next two days, the wind howled.  Not much rain, just sunshine, cloud and gusty wind.  At night you could hear a strong gust arriving.  It sounded like a train approaching, beginning with a distant rumble and arriving with a roar, hard tug on the chain and a shudder.  Crews mostly hunkered down on their boats during the day.  A couple of boats dragged - two without crew.  One boat was pushed and pulled by six dinghies away from collision with a friend's boat.  Another, from the quarantine anchorage where we had discovered such poor holding, was slowly headed toward Panama before the crew returned - I guess they weren't in quarantine! 

We were not into our lockdown routine when we hadn't been allowed to leave the boat for weeks in March & April and were quite content.  Although we both had good books, we seemed to have time on our hands and a little more restlessness in our spirit.  We were happy when the wind eased on January 3rd and we could go for a New Year's tramp.

A few other notable events as we neared the end of 2020:

Peter's 60th birthday party on the beach playing Molkky with friends.  He is not a fan of cake but sandwiches are his fave.

We were honoured to be included in our first boat renaming ceremony, all according to strict script.  Neptune and the Four Winds drank a lot of champagne poured in dictated directions.  And Celtic Rose was born!

Rosemary requesting the blessings of the ones who count to sailors - Neptune and the Four Winds.  Tony waiting to make his champagne dedication.  Sailors are superstitious but no cruiser wants to risk breaking with the traditions, especially when it comes to the sea and wind.  Anyway, it was a fun party with lots of champagne for the sailors, too.

A tour of northern Grenada highlighted the petroglyphs.  Over 60 engraving dated from CE 500 was on this large boulder at the bottom of a deep gorge.


Milly also got some new canvas to dress up just before the holidays.  Her old windshield covers were disintegrating, her old cockpit cushion covers were splitting at the seams and her old sunshade was beyond even Peter's repair.

The new windshield cover should last a lifetime, the sunbrella cushion covers in "Storm" - a brave colour for a sailor - no longer stick to me and the sunshade is better than new.  Thanks, Ever After Canvas!  A great job!


And then there was a 65th birthday and multiple walks/hikes and meals out.  

 We feel very lucky to be in Grenada where we can be with friends.  The country did experience a spike in cases after a resort guest socialized with locals and other guests.  A curfew, quarantines and restrictions were enforced.  Through tracking and testing, numbers have now dropped to close to zero with the only active cases coming in by plane.  No community spread.  Quite remarkable!

Happy New Year!  It came in like a lion and will hopefully go out like a healthy, vaccinated lamb.



21 November 2020

Grenada Quarantine

The view from behind the bars of our quarantine terrace.

We're home floating at anchor on Milly!  Traveling back to Grenada during covid times was a bit of a process but it's done now.  To be repeated in the reverse direction in May, we hope.

To be clear, Grenada is trying very hard to make entering their country as a tourist work while keeping their citizens safe from disease.  Their GDP and livelihood of the population depends on it.  Our experience, apart from the boatyard protocol, was efficient, smooth and provided by smiling, friendly and helpful staff whether at the airport, testing, taxi or hotel.

The process began in Canada.  Grenada requires a negative PCR test taken within 7 days of the flight.  Our timing on this was not the best:  Ontario had a backlog of tens of thousands of tests which required a change in policy and made getting the tests and results in a timely manner a little more awkward.  We decided to go through the new pharmacy route but on calling the closest pharmacy to Em and Gid's new home, there were "a thousand" people ahead of us for the first step of having the pharmacist call back for assessment.  Didn't sound promising.  Just getting past the busy signal and the robot required multiple calls.  Anne got on one phone and myself on another.  We each eventually got through and the first pharmacist to call back got our business - not that they were low on clientele.  PCR test done and results received in about 72 hours, two days before our flight.

Emily kindly drove us to the airport at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday - very generous sacrifice of sleep-in time for her and greatly appreciated by us.

We had anticipated that YYZ would be quiet.  Not so!  It was bedlam.  Line ups were longer than we had ever seen, snaking back and forth, immobile.  In thirty minutes we moved about a foot.  Although everyone wore masks, social distancing was impossible.

Through the usual rigamarole - told we're in the incorrect line, moved as directed, repeat and repeat again.  Extra payment for heavy baggage!, more line-ups, security, hanging about to board.  And, finally we boarded onto the relative peace of the plane.  "We" meaning all 300 of us - it was completely full.  Again, social distancing impossible.  

Seatbelt buckled but no movement.  Announcement - "Mechanical failure" requiring attention.  Unnerving but at least they were paying attention.  Too bad they hadn't found it before getting everyone on board.  About an hour later, new announcement - couldn't fix it, missing part which was being delivered.  Hmmm.  Another hour and another announcement - current staff will not be able to do flight as it will take them past allowable shift length.   New staff required.  For some reason, this meant that all passengers had to disembark with all personal items to wait in airport.

We certainly want to be on an airplane that flies without mishap from a mechanical problem and/or missing part and with staff who are not falling asleep.  Obediently, we all get off.  This was actually a blessing for Peter and I.  Not having eaten and going to a hotel without a dining room and no groceries on order, we were able to wolf down a largish breakfast/lunch in the only open restaurant while we waited with a $10 each voucher applied (which we waited for approximately 20 minutes - printer broken and had to be replaced!).  Time to order a few groceries to our Grenada apartment and notify hotel to expect them.

Finally, boarded a second time.  Uneventful flight.  Mechanical problem fixed as far as oblivious passengers were concerned.  I watched two movies and cried surreptitiously behind my mask and glasses.  Perhaps unwise to watch a tearjerker on a crowded plane.  My family is used to it but the woman beside me was not.

Our quarantine home for at least five nights - elongated to ten for us.  Dengue fever, spread by mosquitoes, is ravaging the locals and cruisers in Grenada.  We requested a mosquito net but we were so close to the sea that mozzies were no problem.  The net came down.

Disembark in warm and humid Grenada.  All 300 herded by many hired hands whose sole job seemed to be smiling and directing us into another crowded room to wait health assessment.  After spending more than five hours with fellow-passengers another bout of sitting cheek by jowl didn't matter.  Temperature taken, forms completed, signatures written, telephone numbers given each at a different station by different smiling locals who I'm sure were so pleased to have employment again with borders fully open.

The astroturf-clad stairs going up to the octagonal bath for two.  The apartment was a bit dated - 1970's? - but large and comfortable.  Sadly, it was clear that the 'palace' is now being run on a shoestring budget.

Customs official - only one who was not smiling - nailed all cruisers for boat parts loaded into suitcases.  We declared a bit and paid a small amount considering what we were carrying.

Special taxi takes us to our apartment where we were greeted by lovely manager.  She had put groceries away for us and beer and wine in fridge.  We had chosen the Grand Anse Beach 'Palace' Hotel because it was a reasonable price, had a kitchen, a view of biggest beach in Grenada and, best of all, we were allowed to leave our room to swim in the sea! 

Many other Canadian cruisers were staying at the hotel.  We all chatted while submerged each afternoon.  Days were spent wandering from bedroom to kitchen to terrace to bathroom - yoga, drawing, reading plus preoccupation with the US election which provided great diversion.

Day four a small battalion of nurses arrived to do the paperwork and the C-19 test with a promise of results in 24-48 hours.  Six hours later the call came that we were all negative and free to leave!  

Free and clear to roam, we went for a walk on the glorious 3km beach.  Our hotel was at the north end.


In the other direction.  Steep, rocky with thick, lush growth promontories separate small secluded beaches on the way north to St. Georges, the capital.  Glorious views make it nice to be back.

Only problem was that Grenada Marine, the boatyard where Milly was waiting, had their own unique and scientifically senseless protocol.  International travelers were not allowed into the yard property until Day 10 after arrival even with a negative test.  Although we could wander at will into the island community, we were not allowed to be in the boatyard where our contacts would be negligible.  Apart from added expense of five additional nights at the hotel plus five additional nights of leaving Milly high and dry plus a bit of frustration, our time was spent hiking and visiting friends - not so bad.

We were finally far enough away from the airport that Peter was allowed to try out his birthday gift from the kids.  He's in red shorts standing on Milly's stern.



A kind local offered us a lift in his pickup as we plodded up the hill in the heat for lunch. 
 

Day ten arrived and so did we.  Milly was dusty and dirty on the outside but dry and clean on the inside.  We put her back together, ready for cruising, in sauna-like conditions over the next three days.  Sleeping on the boat on the hard in the tropics is a test for the constitution.  No running water means everything from bathing, toileting and washing dishes requires dismounting by ladder and a walk to the facilities.  I greatly restricted evening drinking of all fluids to accommodate.


Milly is on the move. 

Gently swinging in her cradle. 


And then, finally, splashing into the sea.

On day 14, Milly splashed.  We were afloat and home!

We stayed at dock one night - long enough to hose her down once again with free marina water.  She most likely won't have another shower until May.     

Addendums:

 

We found this little guest on our doormat about a week after he/she? had come aboard in the boatyard.  Some cruisers are happy to keep a gecko onboard to eat insects.  I could only imagine waking to a creepy-crawlie sensation  We carefully took him back to shore.

Addendum:  Air Canada awarded us each a $200 voucher which was completely unexpected.  It will be put to good use in May.

Grenada has recently increased length of quarantine to seven days and no swimming in pool/sea.  We came at just the right time.

6 November 2020

Canada Time (featuring wedding pics)

 

Traditionally, our season begins with raising the flag on the cedar flagpole.  Although the kids had used the cottage all summer, the flag did not go up until August 11th when we arrived.  The cottage was ready.  Let the summer begin...late!


We had a truly wonderful holiday/visit - what do I call it? - time in Canada.  Despite the strangeness of covid restrictions and being unable to visit with many friends and some family, we thoroughly enjoyed our 10 week stay.  We plan to become commuter sailors, at least for the next few years, to enjoy summer in Canada.  Hopefully, Covid-19 and it's many limitations will be a thing of the past and visiting/visitors will once again be part of our home-coming. 

Visitors and visiting:

My dear bro and
My dear bro and family came for a quick but superb visit on their way to TO.

Breakfast with a view


And then we got to be the visitors, at the new build home of more "family", Anne and Rob.  We even have our own room there.  Well, we share it with others but it does have our names on it.  Haven't left a toothbrush yet.

Poolside action.  Too chilly for water action.


In chronological order the 2020 visit was highlighted by: weekend visits to the cottage - even during our quarantine - by our children; lunch with our stalwart crew, Lee; two visits to our dear friend's new build in The Blue Mountains; a tour of a city new build followed by dinner with family; more dinners with family in Toronto; outdoor lunch and lovely visit with Raymond and Liz; mother-of-the-bride dress shopping with Anne who encouraged try-ons of dresses that would never have caught my eye, one of which I chose (Thanks, Anne!); a Stony visit from my dear bro, sister-in-law, and nephews; a few visits with Stony Lake friends including those who we started the covid crisis with in Martinique; shared captain's hours with young Stony Lake friends on our deck; multiple romps with Stevie, the dog, at The Beach.  (Hope I didn't miss anything).  

It was topped off with quality time spent with Tom at the cottage during his two week quarantine upon returning from regattas and training in Europe, Gid and Em's truly perfect wedding, a move into Gid and Em's new beautiful home and, finally, a 60th (early) birthday party for Peter.

A few cottage happenings:

Peter with crew Emily got out on the hobie only once but for a race with a sister boat.  They won!  The other boat were loaded with a crew of about six plus beer.  Peter and Em were much more serious!

Very happy captain with crew


No stick is too big for Stevie Girl.

The old part of the cottage gets elevated out of the soil and supported on a few well-placed pieces of granite by Tom and Peter.  Saved for another few years and set up for work in the spring.

My birthday dinner made by my two favourite men, Peter and Tom!

And now for the extra special wedding weekend:

 

Blogspot will not allow me to put these two pics in the right order - at least, I can't figure it out.  The hike was followed by a picnic wine-tasting covid style.


First up, a hike through sand dunes to one of the incredible beaches in Prince Edward County.  Reminiscent of ocean coastline but with freshwater.    

And then the legal "I do's" at a local brewery.  Fantastic dinner and celebration.  The only covid in evidence was the officiant's mask.  The wedding party, having all tested negative days before, were much more relaxed and the excellent brewery staff followed suit.


The new husband and wife with our new parents-in-law.  We look forward to many years of friendship.

After a morning of preparation, we gathered at the venue on a beautiful, blue sky day for the main event. We were so proud to make the walk down the grassy aisle.

Beautiful and happy bride and gorgeous chuppah made a wondrous setting.

Gid's three sisters officiated in such a personal fashion that it was the nicest and most meaningful ceremony I have ever been to.  Of course, I'm biased, but I really think it was.  Tears of happiness flowed!

 Lisa did a Shakespeare reading - no surprise - with a perfect personal note of humour and love.

After our tears of joy were dried we all celebrated.  Loved every minute of it.

The sibs!

The cousins got to enjoy each other's company again

The sweet and lively ringbearer doled out flowers to all the guests late into the evening.

No dancing allowed so the night was full of warm and heartfelt toasts and speeches.  In their speech, Em and Gid each warmly  addressed every person in attendance.  Very special.  Couldn't do that with 150!
Father of the bride couldn't have been prouder of his darling daughter.  And warmly and sincerely welcomed Gid into our family.

That's it for now.  The photographer and friend whose generous wedding present was her professional services will deliver more pics and videos soon.  It will be tough not to share some more so stay tuned.

The excitement did not stop there.  There's more:

After a good year of looking at future homes, G&E settled on The Beach, Emily's childhood neighbourhood and perhaps satisfying Gid's west coast roots.  We helped pack and unpack.  So fun to be part of another life event when we usually live so far away.  It is a wonderful home for a long future together.

The kids celebrated Peter's 60th a tad early with a gift of a drone - high on his wish list!  He was tickled.  Now you will be treated with aerials of Milly and her anchorages.

We were busy!

These major events were dotted with cottage TLC which included a few purchases and lots of labour by Peter and Tom, when he was there.  Grasses and weeds have been banished from my garden and the beds are ready for spring planting.

By October 20th - the longest we had ever stayed at Stony - we were waking up to heaters and Peter's rapidly set fire.  The pipes didn't freeze but us softies from the tropics did!  We renewed our appreciation of the Ontario fall colours but hightailed it to the heated homes and companionship of friends and family for the final ten days of our Canadian stay.

Tom playing lumberjack complete with shirt.  Should've been an axe though, not a pint-size chain saw.


A sensational Stony Lake morning.                
New dock is lifted and ready for snow and ice.  We're already excited to get back in May and put it back down!


We count ourselves very lucky to have two places we can call home.  Although sad to leave each, we are excited to return to each.  What could be better!