Little Compass RoseCaribbean Compass April 2009

Look at the Time!

(Are We Cruisers or Are We Snoozers?)

by John Rowland

Unbelievable!! It's quarter to February!!! As I write this, it is 2345 hours on January 31st, 2009 and we're still in Prickly Bay, Grenada. I just checked the log-book. We arrived August 14th, 2008. That's over five months ago!

If we stay here for St. Valentine's Day, we'll have been here six months! Are we cruisers or are we snoozers?!? How did this happen?
The log says we arrived on August 14th, '08. As usual when we arrive in Grenada, there is a long list of things we need for the boat and a shorter list of maintenance and repair items that require the boat be on the hard to complete or that require technical assistance to assure a satisfactory completion. Since we had not contacted Spice Island Marine ahead of time, we could not secure a haul-out date until October 3rd, 2008. (Note to self: A schedule may be the enemy of a true cruiser but, sometimes you take things to extremes!) That gave us about six weeks to accomplish the tasks which did not require the yard and to enjoy Grenada and the cruising community which it attracts.

Enza Marine supplied the help our ailing refrigerator required. Island Water World and Budget Marine supplied access to the various bits and pieces we had not been able to find farther north in the island chain. Many of the tasks cleared the list as the days progressed.
We also had time to reacquaint ourselves with many of our favorite restaurants and bars in Grenada. We are members of the Grenada Yacht Club and Christine, the lady who runs the restaurant there, still serves the best curried goat in the islands. Space does not permit a complete listing of all of our favorite haunts in Grenada but, rest assured, as each task was accomplished there was a commensurate reward in the form of a visit to one of those establishments.
As soon as we arrived we realized many of our friends were already in south Grenada. Our friends introduced us to new folks and soon our circle of social contacts grew significantly. August and September dissolved in a river of tasks completed, pleasant outings to our favorite haunts and social engagements with cruising friends, both old and new.

Then it was time to haul out at Spice Island Marine. Once hauled, we spent about a week making arrangements for the work we wanted done: new bottom paint, new davits, and installation of solar panels, just to name a few. With things organized for our return and the boat safely strapped down and stanchions chained together, we made our planned two-week trip to North America to catch up on Nancy's parents, our children and, of course, the grandchildren. On our trip, we even managed a couple of days at the Annapolis Boat Show to procure a few much-desired items.
When we returned, October was waning and it was time to execute the plans we had put in place before we left. We all know how the schedules associated with boat projects tend to creep. As October slipped away and November became a reality, living on the hard morphed from an adventure to an inconvenience to a state of existence closely akin to having a tooth requiring a root canal. We changed our scheduled launch date so many times, the yard manager threatened to charge us for the White-Out correction fluid required for the changes. (Actually, I believe he was kidding. At least I couldn't find the line item in the bill.)
But at last the work was done. As she sat in the straps of the travel-lift, new bottom paint gleaming and the new davits sparkling like the work of art they are, the "on the hard" ordeal seemed worth it.

On November 14th, 2008, we splashed. We dropped the hook in a protected spot just south of the Coast Guard dock, among our friends' boats. There were a few leftover tasks, which we attacked amidst speculation on when we could depart from Grenada. In the meantime, with the official end of hurricane season behind us, more and more of our friends were arriving, some coming up from Trinidad or Venezuela and some coming back from an extended stay in North America. Our social calendar filled with happy hour gatherings, pot lucks, having folks to dinner on our boat, going to dinner on other boats, and so on.
Then there was the e-mail from my nephew telling us there would be a gathering of our clan for American Thanksgiving at his home in Kentucky. A chance to see some of the grandchildren and children! A chance to see my niece and nephews whom we had not seen in four years! A chance to see the grandnieces and nephews, some of whom we had never seen! With the prediction of settled weather and three of our friends anchored around us, we hopped a plane and left the boat on the hook for a week. When we returned, filled with turkey and chocolate chip cookies, knees still sore from the traditional Thanksgiving Day touch football game, we realized, unbelievably, it was December!!!

Now we started looking for a "weather window" to make the run up to Carriacou. This is never an ideal trip, with the prevailing winds this time of year on the nose, the seas generally on the nose and the currents, you guessed it, on the nose. More comfortable to spend the holiday season among your friends and the welcoming and friendly people of Grenada.
On Boxing Day (December 26th for the uninitiated), a pot luck/jam session is organized at Whisper Cove Marina. Cruisers from five different bays in south Grenada converge on the event by bus, taxi and dinghy - perhaps some even swam? An outstanding afternoon and evening of renewing old friendships and meeting new people. Far better than getting beaten up on an uncomfortable passage.

Then it is January. The New Year ushered in the company of friends and the Christmas Winds have arrived. To add to the weather mix, exceptionally cold and stormy weather coming off North America keeps the Atlantic churned up with gale-force winds, driving higher than normal seas down into the island chain. Also, an unusual combination of meteorological features spawns a multitude of storms, squalls and generally wet, miserable conditions. Every day we have choices; we can make an uncomfortable passage or we can take advantage of the things Grenada has to offer and enjoy the cruising community here. There is a wine bar that offers a "Ladies Night Special" on Thursdays. For several weeks Nancy has joined a group to take advantage of this and each week the number of ladies in the group is increasing. What a choice: Go out with a group of our friends for a glass of wine and pleasant conversation or make a passage with the boat doing an imitation of a corkscrew-style roller coaster? Well, maybe we can go Friday? But each day there are more choices. Get tossed around by confused seas while making three knots with the wind on the nose or go to the best sushi restaurant in the islands? Get your brains beaten out going to weather or go to a beach bar and listen to a great blues band? Day after day we must make these difficult choices. Folks, this ain't rocket science!

So here we are, at a quarter to February, enjoying the comfort of Grenada and the cruising community, waiting for a weather window. Life is good!

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