Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Finally Not Beating To Windward

We got all of our welding repairs done in Grenada, so we have again functioning wind generator - let's see how long before we break it again. 
Welding new wind generator mast

Welding cracks in our bimini frame

We left Grenada early morning to a steady 20 - 22 knot wind, so we put a reef in the sail and started headed north. 
We had a fantastic sail!!! Not everything went according to the plan - as is always true in sailing but the 200 miles from Grenada to Dominica was fantastic!

Sailing past St. Vincent

We originally decided to make it a 3 day 2 night crossing with "flyby" by St. Lucia where we would arrive in the morning, slow down, take pictures of the Pitons and other very nice island features, and continue another night to Grenada. We heard some negative news both about St. Vincent and St. Lucia - mainly regarding burglaries, people being hassled by locals etc - so we decided to spend more time in Dominica instead. 
It became apparent within the first 2 hours that my plans were out the window. The boat was doing 9 knots constantly with frequent double digit speeds! I have never seen Galaxy be so fast over long period of time. Instead of early morning arrival in St. Lucia, now we were looking as arriving around 9:00pm which would be rather dark to take any pictures. 
Close reaching on Galaxy

I could not make myself to slow down Galaxy. She was screaming through the water! I’m sure we had some strong current that helped us achieve these speeds but our boat was on the rails - just booking it.
So instead we opted to head straight to Dominica which doing almost 10 knots of speed put us early in the morning in Dominica. 

The wind died during the night but we still managed to make it to Dominica by 9:00 am in the morning the following day. Just awesome sailing. I hope we do more of that! 
And to top it off, at day break, as we started approaching Dominica, we had an escort by a bunch of dolphins eager to find out what we are about and show us that they can still out-swim our boat.

We love to come out on the bow to watch the Dolphins - It never gets old!

So we are currently in Dominica and are enjoying the island a lot. We are becoming the hiking family going on every hiking trail imaginable. And Dominica really delivers in this regard - but I’ll make another post about that later. 

For now, just wanted to say that we are safe and sound in Dominica!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hashers - a.k.a. Drinkers with a Running problem

One of the things I was looking forward to doing in  Grenada was participating in a hash, I had seen pictures of another cruising couple Zero to Cruising and they had participated in one and I just couldn't stop thinking about it, so when we arrived in Grenada the first opportunity I had to sign us up I took and so last Saturday we hashed...

I guess I should explain what a hash is, see there are two kinds  of hash, first is this....Hash (hashish) is the resin collected from the flowers of the cannabis plant and the other is this,...every Saturday a group of people, runners, walkers, crawlers etc assemble at a designated place, where they are briefed by their leader called a Hash Master where they are let loose in the bush shouting ON ON. A trail of shredded papers marks a trail through some of the most beautiful land, rich with all manner of fruits, which by the way are off limits, then after a couple of hours(for the crawlers-which I was one)and a measly 30-40 minutes for the runners they all return back to a rum shop, consume large quantities of beer and food and undo all the good the running, walking and crawling has done them, oi vei!  We partook in the second hash,  just for the record!

So, how was it? Why, I am glad you asked...the first thing they did was ask all the hash virgins to come forward, I was a bit skeptical because I have heard they do naughty things to virgin hashers like making you drink beer from smelly shoes so I was not too quick to move forward but lucky for us they chose a scape goat who got to drink beer from her shoe( lucky for her that shoe looked pretty new) and she also got some on herself when the guy handing her the alcohol felt she was too slow drinking it...Then after some instructions they sent us forth, in the beginning there was some confusion, not knowing which direction to go but someone finally got it and off we went. 

I shall spare you the details and just say, good grief! The hash was grueling, OMG! Up the steep inclines I prayed, and groaned,  muttered unintelligent words, was mad at anyone that showed signs of vitality, and had the nerve to pass me, I wondered where Anthony was, he had the camel bag hence I had no water to drink,my mouth was dry, my legs were like jello, my heart was beating out of my chest, my eyes were fuzzy from the sweat I could go on and on.

 Jordan and Mirek galloped like young gazelles, Anthony no where to be seen, probably at the head of the hashers (why oh why couldn't I be frisky like they were) I kept saying things like  "there is no shame in taking the short route, you weren't born on these mountains...they'll understand" lol  but you know what? Am glad I persevered because I met Yums, a girl from England and something about her powered me to keep at it, I also met this skinny tall man, older man, he was shouting to the runners, "stop and smell the roses," my kind of guy ha ha, he helped propel me forward, I don't have to run, I could stop and smell the roses and still complete the hash. And yes, I finally made it to the rum shop where I was met by two cold carib beers...yes, and of course Mirek and the boys who from their relaxed bodies implied they had arrived eons

Wrapping up, this coming Saturday will be another opportunity to hash, I look forward to reporting that the side effects were a sense of wellbeing, relaxation, rapid flow of ideas,and to crown it all an increased appreciation of music and food,happiness and joy...Till then so long...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Aaahhh, Grenada. 

They call it “The Spice Island” as Grenada grows and exports many spices. Nutmeg and Mace are the main spice crops that make Grenada so exotic. I don't think I have seen more luscious country than Grenada. Everywhere you look there is a fruit tree or a spice tree growing. 
The volcanic soil is perfect to grow everything

Cocoa been
You suck on the beans and they taste very good.

Cashew fruit (The nut grows on the outside of the fruit)

In few days of visiting Grenada, we instantly fell in love with the island and the people. The Grenadians are very relaxed, not stressed, skinny, women are beautiful and dress really well, they have their own culture and their own entertainment which is not driven or influenced by the cruisers or outsiders like we see on many islands. 
A Grenadian army marches through St. Georges town- Very hilarious - The drummers are really drumming some type of Caribbean rhythm instead of just dry march rhythm, so it feels more like a mardi gras instead of a march. Some homeless guy jumped in front of the procession becoming "their leader" and they didn't seem to be bothered at all by it. Only about a half of the troops had weapons, not sure if the rest didn't qualify to have one or they just don't have enough weapons on the island. A car behind them was driving so close to them, almost on their heals and completely ignoring the repeated knocking of the police officer . . . Can you imagine this type of procession in our country?

So we are spending a few weeks in Grenada and just soaking it all in. They speak English here, but they use a very heavy Caribbean slang here (changing and mispronouncing the words) so it’s really difficult to understand them. Funny thing is that they always think that Phyllis is local and they approach her that way - the irony is that Phyllis cannot understand a word of what they are saying. There was even an instance where a couple of local young girls asked her for directions thinking she is a local - you should see their eyes widen when Phyllis started speaking with her American english. 
But for the most part they switch to normal English without a problem. 
A local Grenadian Beer

The Music! Grenadians love Music. I think Soca is their favorite but they like many styles. You can hear it being played everywhere. In the busses, on the streets. They also have some very talented musicians here on the island. We visited a two day jazz / gospel festival and were very impressed with the quality of music they delivered.

The island appears very happy, and people are relaxed. You can feel it in the air. You can mingle among them, go running through the mountains with them (more on that later), and you never feel uneasy. 

US invaded/intervened in 1985 when their president was assassinated for a brief period - many Grenadians have mixed emotions about this incident despite this nice graffiti.

Visiting Chocolate Factory

We cannot say enough praises about Grenada. We have even started talking to Anthony to try and apply to the US Medical University here (USA built and maintains a very prestigious medical University - world renowned - which is populated by many american students who study here) 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Journey to Grenada

The internet has been surprisingly scarce for us the last two weeks. We have made it to Grenada where we have been enjoying ourselves very much. I'll make a next post about that.

The plan was to sail to Grenada, pretty much straight line and then start heading north slowly touring the various Caribbean islands. 
However the start didn't happened as we hoped. We sailed from BVI to USVI (St. John) to pick up our package from US (Brand new wind generator blades), and refuel and then head out to the open ocean. Everything was great until we came to a fuel dock, where we had to wait for 2 hours and at the end they wanted to close on us as they were already 1 hour past their closing hours and a few boats cut into the line and cut us off. We kept our cool and in the end got fuel. By this time it was already dark (around 8:00pm). But when you are planning to sail over 400 miles, it does not matter that much when you depart, and we opted to be fresh for our first night, so everything was OK. Except that the wind direction was not. The predicted wind from 80 degrees turned and started blowing from 120 degrees and slowly dying, which meant we would have to tack into it. By the next morning the wind died completely and we decided to start the engine. And since we were burning diesel, we opted to head as much east as possible. During the night we suffered a first of what would be series of small breakdowns on board. - The track to which the main sail travels up and down ripped itself from the mast, shearing about 9 screws and was threatening to come off the mast completely. All this done right at the first reef spot, as we were sailing at night with 1 reef in the sail. Also our jib, which may be the original sail on the boat (perhaps 20 years old) is in really bad shape. It was missing one batten, another batten was broken, and third batten wore a hole in the sail. It made it really difficult to sail upwind with a sail with such a bad shape. And since we were motoring east we got so close to St. Martin, we opted to pull over to St. Martin and repair our jib by purchasing at least new battens for it. 

I spent 2 days hoisted up on the top of the mast in a VERY rolly anchorage drilling the mast, tapping it and putting new set of screws into the sail track. Not a fun job. I have blue bruises to prove it from being tossed like a rag doll on the mast. We also got our battens fixed in the jib, so we were good to continue. St. Martin was full of boats from all over the world, many boats waiting till about middle of April and then start transAtlantic voyage back to Europe, many boats simply starting island hopping south so that they could spend summer (Hurricane) season in Grenada or Trinidad. We quickly made some friends.
When we left St. Martin the forecasted waves were supposed to be 5 - 7 feet, but we quickly realized that someone forgot to multiply the waves by 2. We went over some decent hills and valleys, with a lot of wind to boot. All of that sailing 45 degrees close to the wind - this is as close hauled as our boat is capable of sailing upwind - put a lot of stress on the boat. A few times we completely submarined the boat where the boat decks and saloon disappeared in the waves. Luckily this happened only about 3 or 4 times as the experience is rather scary, and you can feel the weight of the water on the boat as it tries to come up and drain the water. 
All this upwind bashing brought new small disasters. On one powerful squall, during our reefing our sail swung so violently that the main sheet got caught in the wind generator, instantly breaking the wind generator off - so much for my brand new blades that I “Just” installed a day earlier in St. Martin. 

Later on our jib camber sheered all of it’s screws and came apart, also our hydraulic boom vang on the main sail worked itself out of the screw and with a very loud bank fell off the boom. Since we were not too far from Guadalupe we opted to get to Guadalupe, anchor in one of their bays and attempt to do the repairs. 
We limped in to Guadeloupe around 8 pm, putting on a show for the anchored boats as we were running on deck with flashlights hoisting booms, and fixing the whole rig. We were able to fix both the jib and the boomvang that night, and left early next morning, without even clearing into the country. 

As we finally went past St. Lucia we were able to ease our sails a little bit and be more comfortable. 
All in all after 540 miles (almost all of it sailing) we finally arrived in Grenada. 

What do we think of Grenada so far? We love it! People are very nice, the sailing community is nice and there are no Bareboat charter boats around - just your hardcore cruisers.
Here are pictures from our trip