Bye Bye Windwards and Leewards

Today we depart for Bermuda!

So here’s the wrap up for this part of the planet:

After escaping the magnetic hold of Grenada and the Grenadines we absorbed ourselves in adventure and a check list of what we want to do before we say goodbye to this part of the world.  Three seasons down here means we’ve had time to visit almost every island.

Our bucket list included some hairy climbs,

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a gorgeous botanical garden,

a fantastic tropical forest waterfall,

snorkeling and diving on wrecks and reefs, thrilling races on a friends 55 foot Gunboat catamaran,

doing some really fun charters,

and having some of our favorite sailing friends visit.

Most folks bareboat charter in the BVI’s as the islands are close together and practically anyone can manage to get around with very little experience.  All the islands and groups are magical with their own unique character.

We’ve found the further you venture south the more you can experience the local culture and see how each island differs in language and customs.

There are English, Dutch, French, and independent islands, each with it’s own charms.

Local fruits and veggies stands, meat and fish markets, and local artwork gives you a good idea of what they grow, catch, eat and make. And yes, this is an eggplant, island style.

 

So if you feel the pull of trying something different after cruising the BVI’s, head south.

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You will not be disappointed!

But if you’ve never been to the BVI’s, it is truly a paradise for cruising.  The views are spectacular because unlike other islands, these overlap and no matter which direction you look, the views will take your breath away.

 

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For years I’ve felt like the BVI’s were my home away from home. In fact, there was a moment I thought about moving here.  Now I call it my home away from home away from home.

 

When 2 category 5 hurricanes hit the VI’s within 2 weeks, I could not stop thinking about the islands, the people, and the reefs.

So here’s the deal. The islands were hit.

Hard.

In fact we struggled with the idea of visiting the North Sound where the Bitter End Yacht Club was.  We opted out.  Too many well loved places were destroyed.  The Fat Virgin, Saba Rock, Biras Creek, YCCS, and BEYC.  We saw so many yachts destroyed, houses with blue tarps for roofs, buildings and houses you could see straight through.  Heading to USVI’s, St John customs we were reminded again of the devastation when we saw the building flattened.  It was a puzzle to figure out where to go to check in.  Red Hook on St Thomas now has a small customs office for cruisers.

Here’s what we’ve learned on our 3 week visit.

The Baths is still wondrously beautiful.  The building at the top has reopened for meals. Currently there is no wait or fight for mooring balls.  We loved that aspect.

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The palm trees lining most beaches are gone,  but they are replanting and the greenery is coming back!

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This is from years ago on Sandy Cay which I nicknamed Annie’s Isle.  I now call Sandy Spit Eric’s Pit.  LOL

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The Dogs were still great to snorkel on. The Rhone has broken up a bit more but was teaming with life and coral.

We did not stop at Coopers Island but heard the restaurant has reopened.  Trellis Bay was a wreck. Boats all over the beach.  But a few places to eat with lovely smiling faces serving. Cheap and yummy food.  The Indians where you normally have to wait for someone to leave only had 3 boats at a time including ours.  The coral and fish are still there.  Looking over to Normans was shocking.  Very few boats when normally you see a sea of masts.  We heard a new Willy T’s has been delivered and the Pirate Bight is open on Norman. Peter Island is closed and renovating.  It was hard to recognize where we spent part of our honeymoon.  Destroyed.

This is on St John, an old sugar mill up high on the hillside off Waterlemon Bay.

Sopers Hole, a complete disaster.  We saw it through Binos.  Jost Van Dyke, Foxy’s is alive and well but so quiet compared to a year ago.  Sandy Isle (Annie’s Isle) and Sandy Spit (newly named Eric’s Pit) still beautiful although the trees on Annie’s are shorter and thinned out.  No palms left but the locals have cleared paths and it’s still stunningly beautiful.  The difference is there is now a beach on the backside and with large pieces of coral scattered everywhere.  People make beach art with driftwood, coral, shells, and sea fans.

 

 

St Thomas is recovering pretty well but many people have left.  They lost boats or houses or businesses or a combo of any of those.  The yacht club claims 1/3 of the members are gone.

The bottom line is Irma and Maria destroyed a lot of land and water bases but most people remain strong.  Whether we were on Dominica or the VI’s when we asked questions, people were willing to share. Even customs officers. Living through something so powerful changed their lives.  Many are nervous of the season to come. The rebuilding is not over.  It is a huge reality check of where they live.  Like everything, life is a balance.

As for El Gato, we will do our best to stay as far away from storms as possible and keep an eye on the weather with our Predict Wind App.

We depart for Bermuda tomorrow and can be followed by looking at our tracker at:

http://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/ElGato.

Looks like we will be motoring for a few days but I’ll take that over too much wind any day.

When we get to Bermuda Eric will hop on a plane to Newport,RI, then race back to me in the Newport Bermuda race with his friends.  I’ll enjoy a girls week while he’s gone.

After Bermuda we look forward to hitting the states in July, visiting kids and family and friends on the east coast.

Today is the day!

850 miles to go and we hope there are some fish waiting to feed us on the way!

 

Bequia Revisited

When you really like a place you tend to go back. So it is for sweet Bequia. With 5000 inhabitants it has a quaint island vibe and people here seem genuinely happy.  The waterfront is dotted with small restaurants and art vendors.  We sit at Mac’s to do internet while gorging on pizza called Nirvana made with pesto, shrimp, bacon, and local sweet peppers.  Mmmmm!!!    The BEST!  (Eric has requested this be added to the Gato menu.)

Today I went for my 2nd SCUBA dive here and as I floated 60′ below the surface surrounded by the most exquisite colors outside the rainbow I am reminded why I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was 15.  It also explains why I am not a snow bunny. There are so few colors in the winter (not to mention I hate being cold) and I am obsessed with colors.  The mind relaxes into the zen mode when underwater and as I look for the underwater creatures I struggle to memorize all the color combos and find a way to paint them!   For those who are curious, the reefs are healthy and the sea life is thriving.  We saw moray eels. lobster, shrimp, crabs, rays, barracudas, and countless reef fish including one of my favs the Parrot Fish.

As with most blogs, I need to back up a bit and post what I wrote when we first arrived.

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After some epic windsurfing we left Tobago Cays but not before one last morning session of blasting around in 20+ knots on our Kona Boards.

Eric and I especially love the Cays. Why? Turtles and rays swim happily around you, the reef that protects it is beautiful to swim on, the color of the water is spectacular and other than the Bahamas we have not seen water this shade of blue. The locals are friendly, bring fresh fish and croissants to your boat, and the windsurfing and kiting are in clean fresh breezes where you can slide over the shallows and boats don’t obstruct your path. It’s safe mon.

Our sail to Bequia was in 20-25 knots so we put one reef in and used the solent jib.  Waves were 6-8’ and we happily cruised upwind at 9-10.5 knots.  It was a fun fast sail as it’s only 25 miles from Tobago Cays. The best part was we were sailing again.  Our time out was well spent and the work and time spent upgrading and we are finally reaping those rewards.  Just the 2 of us slicing along with spray and wind blowing our hair back and whenever we caught each others eyes it was not without a huge grin and a twinkle in our eyes. We were doing what we both love, and doing it together on a boat that we’ve both loved.  It’s kind of like sharing a kid, or if you haven’t had a kid, a pet that you are crazy about.   We’ve had all 3 so we  know how it feels. We are invested physically, emotionally, and financially.  We are all in!

We arrived in Bequia several days after a northern swell rocked the harbor.  Stories included monster waves that tore out docks and had boats disappearing from view in the troughs between the swells.  Luckily there is a southern harbor that has shelter from this direction called Friendship Bay so many cruisers went there.  When we arrived Admiralty Bay was back to normal and full of charters and private yachts because Bequia is a favorite for anyone who comes this far south.  It has charm as it’s small, safe, has good reefs to dive, a pathway that wraps around the bay with restaurants and small stores filled with art, gifts, and veggies from nearby St Vincent, and Gingerbread houses up on the hills.

Sadly it is a place where whaling is still practiced but they allow only 2 per year and some years they kill none.  They use 100% of the whale and share the meat with other islanders.  I saw a turtle necklace on Union Island made from whale bone that I really liked but had to walk away.  Buying it would support the killing.  Nuff said.

We walked up the hill and found a pottery shed owned and operated by a couple of artists from the UK who make beautiful pieces.  They were busy making 100 trophies for the Bequia Cup.  I happily added a new coffee cup to my round the world collection and commissioned a 12′ mermaid/octopus bowl as well. Can’t wait to see and use it!

Bequia has a long tradition of sailing, boat building, and racing. The kids learn early and they have a good program supporting the youngster to move into bigger race boats.  They sail to other islands to compete and have had great successes and loads of fun.

We visited the turtle sanctuary and had a close of touch and feel for Loggerhead turtles.  The babies were only 4 weeks old and they will release them when they are older to fend for three own.

It is not without sadness that every time we leave an island as we crawl our way north, we realize we may never see it again.   After spent 3 seasons down here we’ve made numerous friends both on and off the water, and feel connected to this beautiful part of the water world.  The thing that keeps our spirits high is now we can looking forward to cruising the Pacific.  The stories we hear about diving on the atolls, meeting chiefs and bringing gifts to islanders, and knowing we will visit some very remote and exotic places is more than enough to look forward to.

We have a year to prepare and the time will fly, so for now we embrace the beauty of the Caribbean and will always hold it close to our hearts.

The Magnetic Effect

We’ve come to discover there is a STRONG MAGNETIC FORCE keeping cruisers in Grenada.

There are several reasons for this force.

Here’s my list:

  1. Several bays on the south side have ample room for yachts of all sizes in transit, as well as for permanent stopovers which happens frequently. There are similarities to Maine with all the fingers reaching down towards the sea, except for no annoying lobster pots or fog. No traps, just reefs on your way in.  OK I guess those could be considered traps, but with good sun angles and good charts you’re safe mon.  We’ve heard of and watched boats go on the reefs as they approach, but both got off safely.  Best as always to approach in good sunlight to new or potentially treacherous harbors, and have not only updated charts but also a good pair of eyes or two to keep your yacht in the clear blue water.  Grenada is a stopping point for people going north, south, and west.  Parts and services are plentiful so you can get er done.
  2. Parts and services turn out to be the strongest magnetic force on us. We’ve repaired, upgraded, painted, purchased and have access to almost all things needed. Others we ship in and have a customs agent make the process easy. Like our new Lithium batteries!
  3. Relatively speaking this is a safe place to drop your anchor. It’s below the normal hurricane belt and rarely gets hit, about once in 50 years is the pattern.  We chose Grenada this past summer and are happy with that choice considering how awful Irma and Maria were.  Our insurance required us to be south but we would have gone anyway.  This is our home away from home and there’s no way we want to risk losing El Gato so if we can reduce the risks we do.
  4. Another Very big magnetic force is the cruising community. It’s stronger here than anywhere we’ve encountered. How can anyone resist hearing the morning announcements of social activities like yoga with a smile, beach volleyball, Tai Chi, Hog Island BBQ, Taffy’s Open Mic (with sax player Gary who is fabulous or Doc who cranks out the blues), Cutty’s guided tours to chocolate factories and waterfalls, where the next HHH aka The Hash is (the drinkers with a running problem, a worldwide crazy group who hike through anything after making a new trail), the volunteer reading program to help local kids, Mexican Train dominoes at noon at Prickly Bay, and the list goes on.  Need something, want to sell or give away something, weather report, how many damn cruise ships are here today? It’s all on the cruiser net.  And there’s a kid net too!
  5. This is The Spice Island where 40% of the worlds nutmeg is grown.  If you’ve ever had a Painkiller drink you know that nutmeg is the special topping that makes it so special.  The open veggie market is filled with all kinds of spices, and you can buy them on the side of the street, the grocery store, the airport, and little stores near tourist locations like waterfalls.  Fresh cinnamon and fresh chocolate are 2 of our favs. The Grenada Chocolate Company makes the best bar called Nib-a-licious.  It’s 60% chocolate with crispy cocoa nibs in it.  Nibs are pieces of raw chocolate that hasn’t been processed.  Oo Lala. We hope to savor these for awhile after leaving so I am stocking up.
  6. The grocery stores don’t come close to Trader Joe’s, Vons, or Publix, and there is no Amazon Prime, but they actually have King Arthur Flour in the big store! The fruits and veggies are mostly home grown so you don’t look for organic because it just is.  The meat is lacking and it’s expensive but we had a steak the other night and it was great.  The Bearnaise sauce was a bonus.  You want to buy hummus this week? You missed it. It was on the shelf last week.  So I made some.  Tortilla chips? Good luck. They go fast!  I’ll address food in another blog but suffice it to say I’ve learned how to make tasty olive bread, ginger spiced limeade, and just completed making my first yogurt. Delicious!!!
  7. The marinas are good.  We were on the hard at Clarks Court for 6 months and every worker we hired came to us with a smile and talent.  We weren’t overwhelmed with workers begging for work like in St. Lucia, never felt over charged, and we are happy with the results.  Were there some mistakes? Yes, but nothing terrible like we’ve experienced in the past.  The past taught us to never have work done on a boat without being there.
  8. The fresh fish market is better than anything we’ve seen since Sicily.  HUGE fish including tuna and swordfish are brought in daily and lay alongside Red Snapper and other tasty fish.  At 8EC a pound that’s $3US/lb!  We freeze some and cook some and will certainly stock up before leaving.  Want it cleaned? No problem mon.  🙂
  9. People are happy here.  We’ve made friends with locals who came for a visit and never left.  Others were born here and will never leave.  Most of us come here to dodge the hurricane season and wind up spending more time and money than we ever intended but with no regrets! It’s a beautiful island!

Sidebar:  Grenada has had some trouble in the past with the revolution, the invasion, terrible hurricanes, drugs, and so on, and there still is an occasional nightmare of a story that would be a good made for TV movie.  My friend Dory’s mum was murdered when she was little and living here and I never forget.  In fact we didn’t come here our first season because of a murder of a newlywed on a beach last year.  But bad things can happen anywhere, even in sweet Point Loma, CA.  As we read the horrific news about the mass shootings and the NRA’s resolve to support politicians who won’t ban them, we feel safer in the wild seas and on an island than our kids do going to school these days.  It’s a sad time but we hope that for future generations there will be changes.  Ideas: Ban violent video games and stop making movies that desensitize our youth, and of course ban assault weapons and make it really really really hard to buy a gun.  In Grenada you better have a really good reason to want to own one.  Then they come to your house to see where you will lock it up.  They ask the neighbors how stable you are.  You need a reason for the gun. Not just because you like guns.  If Australia can limit guns why can’t the USA? Blood money.  It’s not just the “me too” time, it’s time for everyone to step up and take responsibility to make changes go in a good direction.  Those are my thoughts as we sail the 7 seas.  Peace and love brothers and sisters. One world. I wish!

Back to The Force.

Everything has a life cycle and our latest magnetic reason for not leaving is that our windlass died. As in fell apart in Eric’s hands when he went to check out whether we could wait until April to replace it. The windlass is a gear box that pulls the anchor chain up so it’s very important.  We are stuck in a nice harbor and grateful we were still here when that happened.   So…tomorrow we get to listen to Sabrina again! and on Saturday there is a dinghy concert.   Reminds me of the golden days off the Marine Stadium in Miami or of Humphreys in San Diego. Live music and people on boats enjoying it all.      In warm weather and water!

We love Camp Grenada as it is affectionately called!

In the meantime as one friend suggested to us, we will remind ourselves to resist the force and Be Strong! ETD next week… or the next?

 

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Boatyards – A Dirty Business

El Gato has been on the hard (the term for being out of the water) since last August.  Originally we thought we’d spend 60-80% of our time on the boat and the rest in San Diego.  But we aren’t the type of cruisers to sit still very long and with so many places to see we kept moving.  The Med, The Caribbean twice, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, Florida to Maine are where we’ve sailed as of 2017. After over 2 years of full time cruising with a few weeks off here and there (Christmas, a visit to Chile) we decided last summer to take a break, visit kids, check out Israel and Costa Rica, and avoid hurricane season.  We left El Gato at Clark’s Court, a fairly new marina on the southern end of Grenada with hundreds of other boats doing the same thing.  As we were leaving I asked the yard manager the what if question. What would happen if a hurricane hit. He shook his head and said it would be a disaster. So much for feeling confident about our decision!  We watched the weather apps frequently while we were away and prayed the storms would not hit that far south.  Our insurance requires us to be below 12 40 Latitude or we aren’t covered. Even if they didn’t require it, we would have stayed south as we don’t want to be anywhere near a big storm.  This was the year.  Two major storms lashed the Caribbean and took with it hundreds if not thousands of yachts, homes, people, animals, businesses and vegetation.  It will take years to recover and we’ve heard many stories of people who sailed north only to lose their house (yacht) and all possessions in Puerto Rico, St Martin, St Barths, VI’s, etc.  We have not splashed yet and I worry about what we will find in Barbuda and Dominica, two of the poorest islands that don’t have a big country behind them like France England or the USA to support the rebuild and ship food and supplies.  We’ve donated to several organizations and private GoFundMe’s.  The latest is an adopt a family organization. My nephew inspired me to sign up and I will be sending a package to 2 families today. It’s easy to do and will help someone who is struggling in ways you can never imagine.  http://www.adoptafamilyusvi.com/ Please check it out and send a small box that will be greatly appreciated.

OK so back to why boat yards are dirty.  We’ve hauled out several times for various reasons like painting the bottom with anti fouling paint (very nasty business but necessary if you don’t want to sail with a reef on your bottom), replacing engine seals (so we don’t ruin the engines or sink), putting new stripes on, etc.  Each yard is different but they all have one thing in common. They are filled with chemicals, trash, and unnatural ingredients.  Clarks Court, although new and butted up to a hillside is like a huge mud puddle after it rains.  There is no tarmac or cement ground, just dirt.  And on that dirt are all the pieces and chemicals from boat paint, bottom paint, bleach from cleaning teak decks, and a host of other things I don’t know about.  Boats don’t miraculously become shiny and bright and pretty. It takes a lot of work and products.  The boat shops attached or next to the yards are filled with so many products it will make your head spin.

Boats are stacked side by side and if your neighbor is sanding then the residue comes on to your boat.  If they are painting you could get some spray although they usually put tarps around them for that. But not always. Grinding metal? You could find this under foot or on your deck.

This brings up the question of do you stay on the boat at night or rent another place to clean up and breath fresh air.  Just opening the windows during the day brings in all kinds of dirt.  And taking a shower at the yard is an adventure too.  Water pressure and heated water is precious and not always available.

Many people choose to stay onboard to save $$ but we decided to rent an affordable room during our stay in November.  Even in November it can be incredibly hot during the daytime and when Eric is finished working he usually is soaking wet.  My jobs aren’t as physical and even then I sweat plenty.  We rented a scooter which Eric loves and I tend to ride on the back unless doing errands in the yard and then I drive around like a biker chick. The traffic is too unpredictable for me to feel comfy on the busy streets.  And in Grenada the driving is unique.  They will stop and park In the street for various reasons like at a barber shop.  It’s always on a narrow road so everyone has to stop and wait while it’s one direction only until there’s a break.  They also drive on the left as this was a British territory and before that French.

As for Grenada, we’ve spent enough time there to know people and places and feel connected.  The cruiser network is great and they speak daily about what’s going on today and all week.  Too bad we rarely had time but we did do another HASH and had a wonderful Thanksgiving on the beach with professors from the Med School.  Our landlords Inga and Hap were incredibly friendly and helpful. She is German and built her house 20 years ago by herself and it’s beautiful. An interesting character, Inga hitchhiked across Africa in her younger days.   They don’t own a car and they hitchhike everywhere in Grenada usually getting picked up by someone who knows them.  I was grateful we were staying there as I arrived with a nasty post Halloween cold and staying on the boat would have just added to the misery.  We can’t cook or clean on our boat because we are keeping the water tanks empty (nothing growing thank you) and clean up would be impossible.  So we were thankful to find a nice place.

I’m back in San Diego for a month and although Eric was scheduled to come home too, his projects need more attention so he will return in 2 weeks.

In mid January, after another week of work while on the hard, we will splash EL Gato and head up to Bequia for the Music Festival.  We will spend February in the Grenadines because once we head north we won’t be back.  Tobago Cays and Bequia are our favorites so we will play there before we sail up to the Virgin Islands.  Thirst, the Gun Boat we raced on last year is returning for more regattas and we will join them for the BVI Spring Regatta, Les Voiles St Barthes, and Antigua Sailing Week.  Which takes us into May where we have 2 charters booked in the Virgin Islands.  We feel fairly confident that by May many places will be up and running in the BVI’s, especially if they are hosting events in March. Just to be prepared, we will shop in the French Islands for all the good stuff first, and ask friends flying into the VI’s to bring goodies too.

After the charters we sail north to Bermuda!  We loved spending time with friends during the AC and decided we should not miss the opportunity to sail there on our own. Nice anchorages, and it’s above our insurance limits as well as early in the H season. From there we will sail to New England hitting some of our favorite places like Cape Cod, Newport RI, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. We missed Block Island and will check it out as well as heading up the Connecticut River to visit my sister Elizabeth and family.

In November we will sail south and start making our way towards the Panama Canal.  Galapagos, Marquesas, the South Pacific, New Zealand are all waiting for us!

Hope your holidays are filled with love and laughter. We will be cherishing our times with kids and friends before heading back to being full time gypsies!

Catastrophies

Quick Update:

The San Diego-based Waitt Institute has established the Barbuda Recovery & Conservation Trust Fund to accept US tax-deductible donations. They state that 100% of monies donated will go directly to Barbuda and its people.
Further northwest, Sir Richard Branson has set up an appeal for the British Virgin Islands – one of which he owns – through Virgin Unite. Donations can be made in either sterling or US dollars, with 100% of all donations going to aid and relief for the BVIs.

As I search the net and wait for word from loved ones in the Caribbean, my heart breaks knowing how devastating it is down there.

A few weeks ago we left El Gato in Grenada, the southernmost island in the Windward chain, just above Trinidad and Tobago. It is not immune to hurricanes, but the chances are better of not getting hit. As we packed her up I had a lump in my throat. What if we never see her again? She’s in a good yard, Clarks Court Marina, and we took all her sails down and did the 100 things you do when leaving. But after watching Irma approach the islands for the past week, and now seeing the photos and videos of the places we know and love, my heart hurts.  When I asked the yard manager what he thought would happen if a big hurricane hit, he said it would probably be a total loss. WHAT?!?  But now I see where friends left their lovely yachts on the hard in Tortola and I grasp what he means.  When it blows 150-200 kts there is nothing that can stay upright except for cement houses with cement roofs. Now we know why Bermuda requires it.  And why some yachts were safe on good docks in St Thomas. We hope one of them belongs to our buddy Teri who can’t get to her cat Safari. Roads closed. She has no idea how her condo or boat are but she is safe. Thank God.

We particularly are fond of Barbuda, a small island that is an independent nation with Antigua and unable to get help from a big country like the US or England.  Only 1400 inhabitants and the island is literally in rubbles.  They were poor to begin with.  Their houses are gone…

Below is an Ocean Cruising Club notice I copied and pasted. I’m personally wary about sending $ to their govt because every cab driver we met said the officials were takers. Can’t confirm either way. And who knows, maybe in times like these takers can change into givers.  But I post anyway and if you read all the way through you will see there are some hands on ways to help.  There will be more and you can bet Eric and I will be part of something good.

For now, we hope and pray for those affected.

OCEAN CRUISING CLUB

How cruisers can assist victims of Irma

How cruisers can assist victims of Irma

Sally Erdle of Caribbean Compass has passed on information about ways to assist Barbuda, in particular…

By Daria Blackwell08/09/2017

Thanks for your concern! We are in Bequia, in the Grenadines, and thank goodness well away from any danger.

Pretty much all of the northern Leewards took a bad hit, but St Barts and St Martin will be receiving aid from France, St Maarten from the Netherlands, the Virgins from the US and UK…. but poor Barbuda (part of the independent nation of Antigua & Barbuda) has no such “mother ship” and Irma’s eye went right over Barbuda, causing unimaginable devastation.

Here’s how OCC members can help:

FUNDING AND RELIEF EFFORTS FOR BARBUDA
Our sister island Barbuda was hit by the eye of Hurricane Irma and suffered catastrophic damage with the threat of Hurricane Jose behind. Read the latest alert from National Office of Disaster Services.
We now have official information with regards to financial contributions – sent directly from the Government, Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador/High Commissioner.

FOR DONATING TO BARBUDA RELIEF FUND
Please be aware that unscrupulous persons are setting up websites claiming to be relief agencies for Barbuda. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda can take no responsibility for them. The details of the OFFICIAL ACCOUNT for sending contributions are shown below. If you wish to verify this information, please call the Embassy of Antigua and Barbuda to the US, and the High Commission to Canada at: (202) 362 5122. Members of Staff will confirm this information.

TO REMIT IN U.S. DOLLARS
56A: The Bank of New York Mellon (Intermediary Bank)
One Wall Street
New York, New York 10286
SWIFT: IRVTUS3NXXX
For credit to:
57A: Crown Agents Bank, Ltd. (Account with Institution)
St. Nicholas House
St. Nicholas Road
Sutton Surrey, SM IEL United Kingdom
SWIFT : CRASGB2L
Account #8900319011
For Further Credit to:
59: Global Bank of Commerce (Beneficiary Bank)
St. John’s, Antigua
SWIFT : GBCLAGAG
ACCOUNT# 33086101 (USD)
For Final Credit to:
70: Government of Antigua and Barbuda – Barbuda
Relief and Rebuilding Fund
Account #100-019-74
Nature of Payment is to be included (SWIFT
Field 70)

TO REMIT IN EUROS
56A: Deutsche Bank, AG (Intermediary Bank)
Taunusanlage 12
Frankfurt AM Main 60262
SWIFT: DEUTEFFXXX
For credit to:
57A: Crown Agents Bank, Ltd. (Account with Institution)
St. Nicholas House
St. Nicholas Road
Sutton Surrey, SM 1 EL
United Kingdom
SWIFT : CRASGB2L
Account #9608217
For Further Credit to:
59: Global Bank of Commerce (Beneficiary Bank)
St. John’s, Antigua
SWIFT : GBCLAGAG
ACCOUNT# 33086401 (EUR)
For Final Credit to.
70: Government of Antigua and Barbuda — Barbuda
Relief and Rebuilding Fund
Account # 100-019-75
Nature of Payment is to be included (SWIFT
Field 70)

1) FOR US DOLLAR WIRE TRANSFERS:

56A: Intermediary Bank – Name and Address:
BNY Mellon, New York
SWIFT ID: IRVTUS3N
ABA #: 021000018

57A: Account with Institution – Name and Address
Crown Agents Bank Ltd, Sutton
London
SWIFT ID: CRASGB2L

59: Beneficiary Customer – Name and Address:
Caribbean Union Bank Ltd
Friars Hill Road, Antigua
SWIFT ID: CUNBAGAG
Account # 33178101

70: Ultimate Beneficiary Customer – Account Name, Number, Address
100-013-72
GOAB Barbuda Relief & Rebuilding Fund

2) FOR EURO DOLLAR WIRE TRANSFERS:

56A: Intermediary Bank – Name and Address:
DEUTSCHE BANK AG
SWIFT ID: DEUTDEFF

57A: Account With Institution – Name and Address
Crown Agents Bank Ltd, Sutton
London
SWIFT ID: CRASGB2L

59: Beneficiary Customer-Name and Address
Caribbean Union Bank Ltd
Friars Hill Road, Antigua
SWIFT ID: CUNBAGAG
Account # 33178401

70: Ultimate Beneficiary – Account Name, Number, Address
100-013-72
Barbuda Relief & Rebuilding Fund

Other ways you can help assist victims of the storm:

Financial contributions can also be made to two key places below at this time. We know there are lots of funding links out there but these are the two very trusted sources we are confident will pass all money on to the relief efforts.

1. Make financial donations via the ticketting APP on behalf of the Antigua & Barbuda Red Cross.The ticketting APP is a locally owned and run company and will be passing on 100% of the funds donated to the Red Cross.
2. Make financial donations to the Curtain Bluff’s non-profit (501c3) “Old Road Fund”.
3. Adventure Antigua and Team Antigua – Atlantic Rowers are doing vital work to help provide relief support by taking the boat over with supplies first thing today. For anyone wishing to donate, Adventure Antigua will collect from clothing & household linens from anywhere on the island which will then be taken to a warehouse in Coolidge for sorting and distribution. Call 723 6355 to arrange.
4. Call Joely Anton-Hall (720-5282) at Best Cellars Wines and Spirits to drop off donations to be delivered by Adam Barrett via helicopter
5. Donate supplies at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina for ABSAR’s team that is transporting items to Barbuda and who willl carry injured victims back to Antigua.
6. Barbuda is now under voluntary evacuation due to impending Hurricane Jose. If you have a room in your home you can open to a Barbudan, please call any of the following numbers 464-5056 / 736-3419 / 736-3420 /736-3421 / 736-3423
7. Drop donations at NODS on American Road (about half way between All Saints Road and Factory Road. Unfortunately they are not in a position to take cash support – that should be routed through the above agencies.
8. The Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority are collecting donations – right at the entrance to the Port. Please drop off supplies directly at the gate.

If you are aware of any relief efforts that we don’t have listed, please email alisonslyadams@antiguanice.com and we will continue to update this post with new updates for as long as we have access to power.

The Windward Islands

El Gato is loving the SE part of the Caribbean chain!  We had to book it south of N12 40 latitude for our insurance compliance so we sailed to Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Union Island, Carriacou, and of course the last and biggest island down here, Grenada.

When you stay in one area you begin to get a feel for the islands and it’s nice to recognize other cruisers, fishermen, locals, and to know where to buy fresh fish and veggies.  For sure Eric and I are sea gypsies, and we know that someday whatever I don’t photograph or write about will be a blur. We’ve already had so many incredible memories and memorabilia, and we embrace everyday knowing how special our time is being on the water and at one with nature.

We’ve yet to stay in Grenada long enough to say we are experts, but we’ve had some super good times with friends and cruisers hiking waterfalls, doing a hash (run or walking trail through the mountains following a paper trail), swimming around underwater statues, windsurfing, going to full moon parties, dancing, and playing our favorite game – Dominoes.   They have a cruisers net on VHF Channel 66 every morning at 7:30AM and folks take turns running it. The topics are everything from safety issues, who is coming or leaving, social activities (this is a big one that includes yoga, Texas Hold Em, Carnival details, music nights at the brewery, etc), shopping trips to stores that are prearranged,  treasures of the bilge, parts and services, and local businesses chime in with deals and menus. It can take easily 30 minutes and it’s nice to hear so many people connecting.

Living on a boat with one other person or alone 24/7 is not very natural. People tend to need people. And so it is with cruisers. Some you connect with, others you stay away from, but most are very nice and almost all are helpful and would do anything they can if you need help whether it’s to borrow a tool, fix something, share info, or share a recipe.

In this past month I learned to make sour dough bread, pizza dough, and how to drive an island boat from Bequia (pronounced Beck Way).

Today is our last full day here as we decided to take a few months off and spend some time in San Diego and beyond the reach of El Gato.  We’ll visit our 5 kids, travel to Israel with some cruising friends, and check out Costa Rica for some surf sessions. First Eric will fly to Ct and pick up his F18 and things in storage and drive them to SD. I’ll head straight home and snuggle with our kitty Pebbles.

To take the boat out of the water and leave it unattended is a long process and we have been working our fingers to the bones.  Making covers, cleaning, sorting, tossing, donating, shopping (this is not the land of plenty and with no car it’s always an adventures), cleaning, putting window shades up to keep the ridiculously hot sun outside, scrubbing, taking things apart, packing, cleaning, and sweating are just some of the things we are up to.  Did I mention cleaning? It’s like when you are going to have a dinner party and you know you better clean up the place.  This is worse. One woman said it was like her boat vomited on the inside! Stuff EVERYWHERE! But it feels good to go through it all. The lists are long but we are chopping away and tomorrow we say goodbye to our lovely Gato.  I’ll be stuffing my suitcases with clothes I haven’t touched, and some favorites I can’t live without.

Are we obsessed? Yes. Are we worried about a hurricane coming here and destroying our dreams? Yes. But we figure if we really prepare we then nothing will happen.  Like the storm named Don. No offense if your name is Don, but these days it’s not our favorite name.  We prepared a lot for that storm and literally 2 hours before it was scheduled to hit Grenada it fizzled out. Big storms seldom hit here but when they come they come. Like Ivan. It destroyed about 80% of the island. Category 5 is a whopper.  So we are outta here, leaving our baby behind, and wishing with all our might nothing happens. Other cruisers stay onboard and sail south to Trinidad if the prediction says it’s coming that’s probably the safest thing to do. But we made a choice and are sticking with it.  Time to take a break and spend more than a few days at home.  This is after all a very good yard and they promise to look after our dream. Clarks Court.

September 13th I will be giving a presentation at the San Diego Yacht Club so between now and then I’ll be compiling my best photos and stories to entertain the folks who want to know what it’s like to cruise full time or to hear more.  If you are in the area I invite you to make a reservation and attend. It’s called Ladies Night but men are welcome. Eric will be with me adding his 2 cents.  🙂

Happy Carnival Week from Grenada! Stay safe and pray for peace and for peaceful men and women to be our next leaders!

Bermuda – AC35 qualifiers

Eric and I had a last minute whirlwind decision to go to Bermuda and no regrets! In fact if you ever have to choose when to go see an Americas Cup and can’t stay the whole time (who can unless you’re on a team or live there) it’s best to go at the beginning. All teams have high hopes and once they start racing the drama unfolds.  Cruising friends Simon and Kim Forth on Aura welcomed us aboard and we could not thank them enough for their hospitality!  A bonus of living with them was I learned how to make sour dough bread from Kim!

Steve Tull and Deann of La Mischief were great hosts for watching races and we loved all the energy that climbed on and off LM each day. It was a full boat of friends from all over the globe.

The first photo is Frank Cammas out playing on his F18 after he was eliminated from the series as skipper of Team France. Eric and I have raced against him in the Catacup in St Barthes.  The next is of Team USA with Matthew Whitehead as wing trimmer.  He’s one of the top F18 sailors in the USA.

The hen was just a typical island shot but the turtle. Oh the turtle. As we disembarked from the ferry to watch races at the village I noticed a guy transferring this baby turtle under a fence upside down to another set of hands asking if she should keep him upside down. He answered yes. Turns out every morning there is a turtle rescue mission to clear them from the race course.  When Team Softbank hit something but did not declare what it was on TV there is a good chance that’s what it was. They are slicing them up is a quiet rumor and of course hush hush.  After all, how can a turtle possibly hear or much less go down under fast enough if it saw one of these machines coming their way? Speed is their enemy. In San Fran it was seals. So…the big question is how do we continue to enjoy our sport at these speeds if we know it costs innocent bystanders who just happen to live there, their lives? They did a good job of moving them to another area but I wonder how the turtles like that?  Anyway, that’s my tree hugging moment. Moving on.

 

We loved seeing these machines flying about the course area and it was a great place (other than the turtle situation) to host an event in terms of sea state. Flat seas and turquoise water with decent breeze almost every day. Sometimes even a bit too much for these craft! We watched from the village on the day it poured rain and there was no shelter. We braved the wind and rain and yes it was cold too. Watched as the Kiwis rounded down before building speed and crashed. Hard.  Everyone held their breath and waited to hear all the guys were OK.  Two days later they were out on the course again and now they are closing in on their overall victory. Peter Burling has what it takes but so does the whole team. You can’t win it by yourself and it can take many attempts before you get it right. Wondering who will back an American Team next time if Oracle loses.  The new nationality rule will be good. Another thought. If the Aussies bring a team, who from Oracle will be on it? If no one steps up from the USA it will be the first time the USA has not competed in an AC. Imagine!

Lots of fun days with the tall ships parading around the island, the J Boat Class gearing up for their regatta, the kids playing on Hobie’s with pink sails in front of the grand stand, and a few super yachts mixing it up before they raced too. We had a nice day on a super yacht for one race day. It’s always nice to mix it upbeat a guest on one of those!

The Crystal Caves? Amazing!!!! If you go to Bermuda you must visit this underground wonder.

And of course when in Bermuda it’s almost mandatory to rent a scooter for one day if you like bikes. Eric loves them and I will only go if we’re on an island. Even in Bermuda it’s not all that safe but they won’t rent cars to anyone and they have a one car per family rule. Keeps the traffic down and the taxi drivers in business.  We rode the bus one day and that was fun too.

All in all a very cool island and we were happy to learn that there are lots of places to anchor next year when we head north again.

For now El Gato will stay south of 12 40 Latitude for insurance reasons and also to try to stay clear of storms. Last year we went all the way to Maine and this year it’s been nice to stay where we can swim with turtles, starfish, conch, and stingrays.

Tomorrow is a big day. ETNZ needs one more win for the holy grail, and we can’t stay to watch because we are sailing 180 miles south. Double handing to Martinique on our way to Grenada.

We look forward to scooting along and sailing at night! Go El Gato!!!

El Gato

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