Archive for: ‘March 2012’

HASH from Hell, Mount Ca-Ca, Seven Sisters: Grenada

March 31, 2012 Posted by Deb

We’re walking here. We just finished our fourth HASH and the degree of difficulty was the lowest we’ve seen. Last week was different … we gave it a 9. From the moment we left the rum shop assembly area we were in mud. It started out maybe 3 inches deep but got worse. We were on severe slopes, often right to left with any hint of a trail long since turned into a slippery mess. The mud eventually compacted on the bottom of our shoes and effectively eliminated the tread. We had to claw at vegetation to get anywhere. Several hundred HASHers clawing at the vegetation made the trail wider and greasier. I started early crashing down on one arm and eventually both arms. Those with hiking poles fared better. There were many bad wax cross country ski slips and often sliding was the only option, hopefully using tennis shoes as skis but many used their butts and knees. The footprints would collect water and if you dropped your shoe in one, you could squirt mud all over the back of the person in front of you (unintentionally of course). Getting your foot up without losing a shoe was another challenge.

Hash Shoes After The First Half Hour of Washing

There were a good number of HASH virgins and we got to see a variety of reactions including a mom who was talked into the HASH by her daughter, a college student here. She had already lost the battle to keep her shoes clean but was trying desperately to find a route out of the mud. She was complaining so much that her husband was the only one who stuck by her. The daughter, friends, and dog left mom and dad behind. They were hard to get around because of the conditions but entertaining for awhile.

Twenty five HASHers failed to make it back to the rum shop. They send out trail sweepers and they found a few but most had bushwhacked down the mountain to a road and were wandering around in the dark. The pickup trucks eventually found them and they came parading into the post-HASH festivities as we were about to wrap up. Horst came in on the pickup truck. He’s in his low 70’s and has been sailing on their Whitby 42 (Sunborne) with Sharifa for 25 years. He was hurt, tired, and had lost his expensive shades but still managed to crack us up. It turned out that we knew them from 17 years ago along with one other boat (Gris Gris). We circulated the names and a bunch of other cruiser friends from that era remember them well.

Mount Ca-Ca (Qua Qua)

We, along with Wayne and Jean from Jalan Jalan, took the infamous #6 bus up into the rainforest for a shot at Mt Qua Qua. We think the crazy drivers from the old St. Lucia moved here to power drive the ridges of Grenada. It was only 3 days after the HASH from Hell but we needed to burn calories. Great hike and razor grass cuts added to razor grass cuts. Oh … and after Deb warned me three times, I bashed my head into a tree because I was talking, looking down, and my attempt at growing hair is at a blinding point now. No stitches though I maybe should have gone in but I’m a half inch shorter now.

Mount Qua Qua - On the Ridge

On Top of Mt. Qua Qua with Jalan Jalan

Seven Sisters Waterfall

Hiking in a downpour behind a very slow German cruise ship crowd was a bit hard to take so we hung a right and worked up to Honeymoon falls above the Seven Sisters. Before we split from the crowd, it was kind of funny to see all the guides assigned to the cruise ship crowd trying to grab our arms and help us along and earn their big tips. The Germans kept coming up to us and jabbering away in German, some never figuring out we didn’t have a clue.

This was a repeat hike for us from 17 years ago and we remembered zip. We got lost a couple of times going up to Honeymoon, walked up a mountain stream for awhile, but eventually found the falls. When we got back, the cruise ship crowd was gone and we hung around for awhile trying to remember.

Seven Sisters Falls

Teaching, Hashing, and Tubing: Grenada

March 20, 2012 Posted by Deb

Mt. Airy One-Room School

The activities here are point and click. You see or hear something you like and sign up. A bus full of nice folks shows up at the Tiki Bar and you’re off.

Deb volunteered to teach local children via a cruiser supported (and created) program from 9 until 1:30 on Saturday. Some of the kids walked three hours on a Saturday to get to the one room classroom. Deb got a couple of four year olds.

Mt. Airy Young Readers' Program

She got back with just enough time to dress for HASH number 724 on a cocoa plantation on the north part of the island. Here’s the YouTube link. The mud would make Forrest and Jeff back in MN proud.

On Sunday, it was off to take a lap of the island and hit a few beaches, a beach BBQ, a river tube, a few volcanoes, a rum factory or two, and one of the highest points on the island up in the rainforest. The tubing was short but quite a surprise. The pictures don’t do it justice because we couldn’t operate the camera when we were banging down through the rocks but it had some nice drops, good water volume, and a rapid current in a bunch of places. They had six guys positioned downstream to keep tubers from taking the more violent routes or getting hung up in rocks and we paused periodically while they repositioned.

River Tubing on the Balthazaar River in St. Andrew's

Sunday Grenada Tour

Monday was an R&R day from the R&R.

The Endless Summer Crowd: Union Island earlier in March

March 17, 2012 Posted by Deb

The kitesurfing at Union was a teenage dream. Some were on vacation, some were on boats, and some lived on the island. One cat near us was full of kite bags, six guys, and one girl. There were a few 30 somethings and maybe the odd 40 something but …

They stake out a section of beach and a section of the reef and have their version of endless summer complete with the beach parties. I felt like some weird old guy walking through their turf but they were friendly and couldn’t wait to get me strapped in for $125 an hour. That night there was a full moon, clear sky, and 24 knots of wind and they were out kitesurfing at least until 2:00 a.m. Sign me up.

Tax Time, Turtles, and Turtled: Grenada

March 16, 2012 Posted by Deb

Tax time happens even in the islands and there appears to be no avoiding paying for the sins of a past life. There is small consolation in knowing this should be the last year with complications like income. We had over 40 tax documents waiting in the “Send” column at our mail forwarder, figuring that one of these islands would have a nice cheap mail solution like St. Martin. Wrong. We had to change them all from Send to Scan because of the cost and time delay to get mail. We are in the middle of completing the nasty tax job with nothing more than a batch of PDF’s. No more talk of taxes but I will give a plug to St. Brendan’s Isle, our mail forwarder. We used them 17 years ago and again this time out. The scanning option saved the day.

Turtles? Well, the leatherback turtles are beginning to show up and turtle has a T in it.

Turtled? I went to pick Deb up from the group shopping bus trip and came across an elderly Canadian couple hanging onto a completely turtled Hobie Cat. A turtled cat has flipped and its mast is pointing straight at the bottom. They had life jackets and were not cold but were kind of in the way as one taxi boat, myself, and one other dink tried to de-turtle the cat. I tried to get them to get in my dink but they didn’t have the strength and didn’t want me to pull on them. She was handling things well and this was an adventure but the guy was going off into zombieland mumbling “I need to find my glasses”. He was in the way a lot, too. I helped the taxi guy run a line to his boat (twin 200 hp outboards) while the other dink was trying to free up a line from the masthead. It was a clusterf… When the taxi guy was ready to pull, the second dink guy was in the way. Anyway, the rental company sent two guys out in a kayak and they tried the textbook de-turtle but their combined 350 plus pounds were not enough. I got in close and lifted the opposite hull and we got it over. Meanwhile, we had to take timeouts to gather up loose Canadians. I towed the lady with my painter with the dink in reverse. Last I saw them they were sailing around the anchorage with one of the rental staff doing the sailing. Oh… we did find the guy’s glasses.

Hash #723: Calivigny

March 11, 2012 Posted by Deb

Started Off in the Rain

We’ve been looking forward to the trip to Grenada and have heard a lot about hashing. So we tried our first one. It’s about 200-300 people, Grenadians, students from the University, cruisers and tourists that get together every Saturday afternoon for a hike/race on a different, crazy trail in Grenada. There are all kinds of traditions from the 1930s British military conditioning. The trail is marked but there false trails to get you hashed along the way.

We started in a downpour which made the trails slippery, muddy and almost impossible to crawl up and slide down. We ended up muddy and wet from head to toe, especially after finishing the last mile crawling back and forth across a raging creek and crawling out up a steep slick bank.

I’ve never been so muddy, wet, exhausted and felt sooo good.

Finished at the Rum Shop for Food, Drinks and Beer Squirting

Anchoring Tales: Grenadines and Grenada

March 10, 2012 Posted by Deb

We looked through the old ship logs and found a number of anchoring battles from 17 years ago. Most were boats invading what we felt was our space and anchoring too close to our group. We’ve had our share lately of beautiful anchor jobs challenged by someone dropping right on top of us. We even had to time a swing and deploy fenders to pull our hook in Union. Of course we have that red UV cover left over from the early Sunsail Charter days for this boat. We were warned that other charter boats would be attracted to that and that regular cruisers would stay away. Kind of the opposite of what we want so that cover is getting replaced very soon.

Now there’s a new wrinkle. We’ve been getting quite close to others unintentionally and enduring the icy stares that we used to hand out. We’re not sure if it is the current, that a cat is wide and kites around, deeper water, or that these anchorages are packed but we’ve been missing our positioning. Sometimes we’ve dealt with the icy stares by going over, talking with the other boat. If we’re just too worn out to deal with it, we just tell folks that we’ll re-hook the next day. That seems to calm everything down and some folks even get friendly.

Red Sail Cover

We blew it again after the run from Union to Grenada. Prickly Bay is busy but nothing like Clifton in Union. We motored around the close in boats and gave up on that area, almost finding the hard to see reef with our keel (though I think it is too deep for us to hit), and moved to the back of the pack where there was more room. Dropped once in 32 feet and were too close to a monohull when we settled in, dropped a second time and we were too close to a cat. We endured the icy stares for an evening, I was planning to go chat with them, then they sailed off … problem solved. Now we have a lot of room and can practice our icy stares on the next boat that comes in.

Rag Dolls and Electric Bikes: Union Island

March 7, 2012 Posted by Deb

It’s blowing hard now. They say 20 gusting 25 but it is stronger and we’re hanging off the reef outside Clifton with not much between us and Africa. It was blowing hard enough a few days ago that I tried to rig a jibe dampener coming out of Canouan, knowing that we would have to hang a left shortly after clearing the island. I thought a half turn around a cleat ought to do it with a double reef in the main. Not smart. The boom threw me across the cockpit like a ragdoll, like I weighed nothing. No damage other than more whiplash to my neck and we melted the painter to the dink that just happened to be on that cleat. Oops.

We had a gorgeous eleven-mile run mostly well off the wind after leaving Canouan. The corridor between Canouan and Union is packed with sailboats and we did avoidance moves five or six times. Deb and I never race unless were gaining on someone or we’re pulling away from someone. We were rigged for comfort and planning to alter course yet again for a charter cat coming from our port. As we changed course to fall behind him, he jibed right in front of us and lost momentum and we got close. They had three guys above deck and they were scrambling, trimming hard, and started to pull away. We let out all of our headsail, not because we wanted to race but because we were coming up in the lee of Mayreau. They took it for a race and we apparently did too because it wasn’t long before we started tweaking our sails as well. Of course, we had electric winches so all we had to do was stretch out a big toe to the winch button while they were climbing around with winch handles. It was tight until the seas got rough again beyond Mayreau and Neytiri walked away from them and passed three others. Not bad for a heavily loaded cruising cat.

We rented bikes today from the grocery store. Imagine our surprise when we found out they were battery powered electric motor assist bikes. They were heavy and had tractor seats but took off like a rocket when they were pedaled. We did a complete lap of the island and the batteries still had kick in them when we turned them in. The only two downers were that Deb blew out her knee and I found out the brakes weren’t strong enough to come down off Campbell hill and melted a tennis shoe getting the bike back under control. Deb struggled back to Clifton with a combination of walking, coasting, and using the battery. We hailed a cab but he didn’t want anything to do with hauling a bike. She’s had ice on it all afternoon and we’ll see.

Canouan

March 3, 2012 Posted by Deb

Canouan - Pirate's Cove

We did a particularly bad job of grabbing a mooring in high wind and that put us both in a bad mood, even after we got settled in. In Canouan, like Mustique, there is no mooring line to grab with a boat hook, just a fitting on top of the ball. The options are to drop a dink and put one of us on the mooring ball, get help from the mooring manager with his dink, or to motor past and grab the fitting from the stern and transfer the line to the bow. The latter is difficult in high wind. We got our first gelcoat ding as the mooring vendor thrashed about under our bow trying to wrestle our lines. We went ashore and hit the “Pirate Cove ($A)” and learned that it isn’t just Mustique that knows how to charge. A $14 bowl of ice cream and a $6 beer did lighten the mood a bit and the Pirate Cove is a great location.

Mustique

March 2, 2012 Posted by Deb

Firefly - Mustique

We discovered the Doyle Guide’s category system for restaurants is pretty accurate. He ranks restaurants $A through $D for cost, and you may want to pay attention on Mustique. We hiked to the airport to check out the myth that there was an ATM on the island. It drew a chuckle from the two customs guys who were the only signs of life at the terminal. We stopped by the FireFly hotel and restaurant ($A) for a quick drink and appetizer and liked the view and the emptiness so we ordered lunch. I won’t go into the final bill but they didn’t need any other patrons after we were done.

The highlight for Mustique for me was that Deb found my favorite popcorn oil in a little grocery store. We were on our last bottle so the timing was perfect. We didn’t buy them out completely but I was tempted. We picked up a $16 watermelon on a return visit to a street vendor who gave Deb a garlic earlier for “no charge” when he heard we were struggling to make our EC’s last. It looked great on the rack but was solid green and hard as a brick when we cut it open. So much for good deeds.

Stanley's Fruit Stand

Our three nights in Mustique were up, the black birds were bothering us during the day, the bats were quite aggressive at night, and the swells were getting annoying so we pulled up the mooring lines and went close to dead downwind to Canouan with only the main with a double reef and we still went 7-9 knots surfing.