Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Eve in Paradise

I imagine all our Canadian friends in Canada this Christmas Eve, the fire is burning and you have a mug of hot chocolate or a hot buttered rum  to keep you warm.  You may be doing some last minute shopping for stocking  stuffers or your Christmas  dinner.  The snow is glistening on the evergreen trees and the lights on the Christmas tree are sparkling.  Let me tell you about our Christmas Eve in paradise.  The day started with us driving in a rental car to get our port lights or windows that need replacing on the boat.  These are the same windows that we ordered in Trinidad but when they came they were the wrong size.  That was three months ago.  We had them sent back and ordered the correct size they were not in stock so we had to wait and would be leaving Trinidad before they would arrive so we had them forwarded to Martinique. They got here before we arrived and since we were not here to pay the duty they shipped them back to the States.  We requested they ship them again and found out that we had to pick them up from the airport.  We managed to find the Fedex office , then the customs office and then after paying 29 more Euros we finally got out windows,good, mission accomplished.  

We hadn't done laundry since we arrived so Barry took the laundry in the car to the next town where we he had to return the car and did it. Well it is Christmas Eve and there were no buses or taxis and he must have looked really scuzzy because  no one would pick him up when he tried to hitchhike, so he called me on the radio and told me to come and pick him up..  I spent 49 minutes in the pouring rain, with lightning no less, putting away across 4 miles to get him, then of course there was the return trip.  The only bonus in the whole trip was that I saw Santa Claus gliding by on water skis at the Club Med located between the boat and the dock where Barry was waiting.  I think that was even stranger than seeing Santa four wheeling at the end of a parade in New Zealand.  
I don't think  I will ever forget this particular wild Christmas Eve.  We did spend the night playing Scrabble and cards so it wasn't a total loss of a day.   Hope you had a great Christmas Day, I hope to get a swim in sometime here in paradise.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas from Martinique. 
We are having a good time here with my Mom.  She is 85 years young and still ble to climb out of the dinghy and into the boat.  The other day we went swimming off the boat and she was able to pull herself out of the water and climb up the ladder into the boat.  I hope Barry and I are as spry at that age, she is really something.  Mostly we spend the days on the boat, swimming when we get too hot or head to shore to pursue the shops when we get bored.  It is great having family here for the holidays.  We have our Christmas dinner planned, we found a turkey roll in a store the other day.  Much to our chagrin we discovered we cannot buy propane in Martinique, we have to have European connections for our tanks, so Barry is in a panic that we are using too much propane and will run out.  We will have to sail back to St. Lucia, only 25 miles, to fill up our tanks.  Hopefully we will be able to wait until after mom is gone as she is not a geat sailor.  She did really well sailing to St. Anne from Fort de France the other day.  We gave her sturgeon a whizz sea sickness medication and then a wrist band that sends electric current to your nerves and I am not sure which one worked but Mom did not get sick on either part of the journey down,  We did it in two stages, the first about 7 miles downwind and the other a 12 miles bash to windward that took us 5 hours.  
I should go and see if I can find a super market and get some ingredients for Christmas dinner, here's hoping you all have your turkeys and they are awaiting their stuffing.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Our Canadian visitors

We are currently is Martinique and my Mom has joined us for Christmas.  Since the last blog we have had Barry's cousin, Lucy and her husband Mark on the boat for four lovely days.  That was in the last island St. Lucia.
The intrepid sailors manning the helm trying to live up to their billing as helmsman. 

The Pitons on St. Lucia , we moored right between the two.  P
We spent our time with Lucy and Mark sailing and snorkelling.  Each day we would sail a little way down the coast and find a likely spot and then hop in the dinghy and go to find a good snorkelling spot.  We all had a great time, the highlight being one evening as we were watching the sun go down we saw the elusive green flash. It is only the fourth time in seven years  I have seen it and Lucy tells me the date was 11/2/13, pretty awesome. One night we stopped and moored between the Petit and the Gross Piton, massive volcano type hills.  It is a world heritage sight and very beautiful.  It was wonderful to have them on board and continue our acquaintance that was started last summer when we dropped in on them in Ontario. Thanks for coming you guys. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

We are currently anchored in Admiralty Bay in Bequia , which is one of the Grenadine islands.  We took a ferry over to St. Vincent  and took a tour to explore the island a little.  It is very hilly , almost mountainous to an old prairie girl.  We went way up in the hills to see a botanical garden and then took in the views from an old English fort.  We have to catch the ferry back in half an hour so will try and get a few pictures on. 
We had a great dive in Bequia yesterday, a great reef with lots of sponges and lilac, purple and golden  coral, it was great.  Barry's cousin Lucy will be joining us in St. Lucia for a week so we will head up there on Thursday, probably.  I will have to get the head looking better as most people need moreroom than just enough room to put your feet down.  We had a sundowner party the other nightand had 2 other Canadian couples aboard., all of our buddies have headed for the Panama Canal so it is time to make some more!

Kingstown, St. Vincent

Monday, November 25, 2013

Finished the Christmas cakes. They turned out well, I put a little Caribbean twist in them. I bought some  spices the other day in Grenada and there was a lot of mace in the package so I ground some up and tossed it I'm with the fruit and then I didn't have any corn syrup so added nutmeg syrup instead. I snuck a little taste of the cake after it was done and the Carribbean version is going to be a hit!!
We are at the Grenadian island of Petite Martinique. It is pretty windy so rather thn wrestle with the dinghy in the wind we are just going to stay on board, tomorrow off to Union Island to check in.
Oh and P S the boat did not heat up at all, it was so windy that it kept the whole boat comfortably cool.

Friday, November 22, 2013

We are still in Grenada at the island of Cariacou in Tyrrel Bay.  We decided to reward ourselves for all the hard work we accomplished in our seven weeks on the hard, and go for a dive.  When we arrived at the dive site we found out the other couple that was diving were taking there advanced open water certification and the instructors talked us into taking it too.  We got five dives out of the deal, and we practiced our buoyancy, we had a deep water dive, a wreck dive, a night dive and a dive where we had to practice under water navigation.  It was fun  although a bit tiring with 5 dives in 3 days.  We are all done the diving and this afternoon we have to go over our answers for all the reading we had to do.
We are planning on leaving Cariacou and heading to Union Island in the Grenadines, which is part of the country St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  The name has a nice ring to it and in my head I sing it to a song by the Bare Naked Ladies.  We will probably spend about a week in the Grenadines and then head up to St. Lucia.  We will see, maybe longer in the Grenadines if we like the anchorages.  I am not sure how the wifi will be further north so thought I would put a blog on now to let you know what our plans are and if you don’t here from us, you will know where we are.
We had a tour of Cariacou the other day and it is a lovely island.  The guide was not nearly as good as the one on Grenada so that was too bad.  I plan to make my Christmas cakes one day soon, I think I have all the ingredients.  Barry doesn’t think I should because it is so hot and the cooking will really heat up the boat, but too bad, so sad, the boat will be hot for a day, it cools off very nicely at night now that we are at anchor.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Managed to get the picture of Barry with the monkey on his head downloaded and uploaded for your enjoyment.  I was very pleased to get the picture because he did not spend a great deal of time on his head!!
We are going to head further north tomorrow to the Grenadian island of Cariacou, it is only about 40 miles from our present position so we should be able to make it during the daylight hours.  We might sail up to St. George this afternoon and see about a little shopping before heading on, although not many places are open in Grenada on a Sunday. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

We went on an island tour of Grenada today.  The tour guide was very knowledgable about all the fruits, nuts and plants that grow here.  Grenada is 21 miles long and 12 miles wide and has a population of about 103,000. Today we were shown examples of all plants, mandarin oranges, limes, grapefruit, soursop, breadfruit, yellow apple, bananas, cocoa, coffee, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and cloves as well as lemongrass, cashews and turmeric, Grenada is know as the Spice Island, it lived up to it's name today. It was a very informative and interesting day. 

A cashew, the nut on top and the fruit on the bottom, without roasting the nut is poisonous!

Our guide holding a cocoa pod. 
We went to a chocolate factory. It was very quaint, read old machinery but we sampled the chocolate after and it was delicious. 

That brown stuff being stirred around is chocolate! Did it ever smell good. 

The view from the spot we had lunch, on the property of a rum factory. The sugar cane is used to make the rum.

The original paddle wheel that was used in 1785, still in use today.

The monkey actually jumped on Barry's head to get a banana.  I have a picture but will have to 
download it from the camera. 

I went for a swim in a fresh water pool under a waterfall.  There was a lot of water coming over the falls and I got pushed around when I tried to swim underneath it. 

Saturday, November 09, 2013


Well we made it to Grenada. We had a great sail down, even having to reef down because we were going to fast and would arrive before daylight. So far we have found the people here to be much more helpful than in Trinidad. The boat looked great when she went in the water with her hull painted and polished and here new bottom paint, as well as her new dodger and bimini. I was so looking forward to not having to go up and down the ladder to go to the toilet and lo and behold the head sprung a leak and we had to bucket and chuck it the first night we were at anchor.  Barry took the dinghy back to Chaguraramus the next day and got parts to fix the head so it is all good at the moment. 
The other problem was that the outboard dinghy motor decided it wasn't going to work when we got to Grenada so Barry had to row us to shore to get checked in.  We needed money to check in so we had to take a taxi to town to get money.  We are in a spot called Prickly Bay and it is pretty well to do, the homes are really nice and the grounds are all landscaped with beautiful flowers.  I finished the eighth coat of varnish on the hand rails on the deck today so that's it for another few months.  I will try and get some pictures of Grenada the nest time we go ashore. 
Polishing the hull, getting off the horrible stains from acid rain. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

Painting our bottom!!

We put two coats of paint on today, another tomorrow morning.  then Barry will struggle with getting the radar up and running.  He thinks all the wires are connected properly but the output does not recognize there is a radar there, oh joy!! After banging his head on the hull for several hours we decided to hire some help, but it is a holiday tomorrow and there is road construction , so it takes 2 hours instead ot 15 minutes to get here from Port of Spain. Lots of business people have not bothered trying to get to their shops so there is no one available to help us, yeah, welcome to the Caribbean. Hah, the frustration is beginning to boil over. 
We did get one thing done today.  When we bought new chain in Australia a couple of years ago we bought to little, so today we got 25 meters more and the welder actually showed up to weld the new chain to the old one so we now have 90 meters aboard which will make Barry very happy.
5 more sleeps and we will be back in the water, there is no dock space available and the anchorage is really shitty so as soon as you launch you leave and Barry is worried that we won't get everything done (mainly getting the radar working) before we leave.   I figure there are technicians in Grenada so if we don't get it done here, we can do it there, no worries!!
Tomorrow we are taking a trip to go to a village to celebrate Dewali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, I think it is like their Christmas.  We will go to a temple, see some dancing, have dinner and then walk around the villageto admire the lights. We weren't going to do it but since it is a national holiday, I figure it must be a big deal so we might as well join in the festivities. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

 otherwise known as the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, but CARONI SWAMP sounds so much better!!
The national bird of Trinidad, the scarlet ibis
We took the afternoon off last week and took a trip out to see the scarlet ibis's. They were magnificent, I have never seen a bird that was quite that colour before, they were really red, just my colour of bird.  We took a trip down the swamp in a boat and arrived just as the birds were coming back to roust for the night. The tree looked like a Christmas tree all green and red with a few while splotches which were the great white herons.  I apologize for the lousy pictures but we didn't get close enough to get very good ones.  I have tried to give you an idea of what it was like but unfortunately our camera's were not good enough to capture the moment very well. 
We had a bit of a tour before we went to the swamp, seeing Mount St. Benedit which had a huge monastery on it and also a Hindu temple that was built out at the end of a causeway in the water because no one owned the land and they could not destroy the temple as the land owners had done to the previous temple the fellow had built.  It was a very nice break from the boat.  
We have completed putting back all the chain plates, here I am with my head in the bottom cupboard of the head holding the wrench so Barry can loosen the bolts. on the other side of the partition.  The chain plates look good and we have put stuffing and then caulking all around the holes in the deck where they go through it so hopefully they won't leak anymore. Apparently decks flex, so we will just have to keep caulking them about 3 or 4 times a year and hope they won't leak anymore.  

The other job we have almost completed is installing the new radar.  We took down the old dome last week and then tried to figure out if the existing platform it sits on would do for the new one.  The holes for the new one looked like they would NOT fit on the old platform so we got a big plastic board for the new one to sit on, after, of course attaching it to the old platform.  Well lo and behold we took the old platform down and just managed to squeeze the new holes on to it so there is no need for the new plastic board, much better!  If you followed all that you are a very careful reader indeed.  
For one thing that goes our way there seems to be five that don't.  We have to mount the radar display on the binnacle. I managed to get two coats of paint on the binnacle, it looks a lot better but Barry thinks I should have spray painted it. The binnacle is that post that the steering wheel is attached to.  ANYWAY, sorry, I am rambling a bit, we had to find a way to get the radar cable down the binnacle.  We dangled a fishing line with a weight on the end of it and managed to get the weight through a 2.5cm hole a meter down with only a 1.5 cm opening at the top, not directly overhead of it.  Barry figured he could not get the cable down that hole so pulled the weight back up, the next time he dropped it down it got stuck on something and he couldn't get it loose.  We have one of those long grabber things we tried to get the weight with, difficult when you can't see what you are supposed to be grabbing. One too many pulls on the fishing line and it breaks leaving about 1/2 a meter of fishing line and a weight just sitting down in the bottom of the binnacle ready to roll around when ever the boat heals and get all tangled up with the steering cables perhaps the throttle or the gear shift lever, fun, fun, fun.  We put the fishing tape, that we got when we had to take the mast down in Mexico when all our sacrificial lines we put up to save our halyards all broke due to UV, down the binnacle, after 20 minutes I attached a sting to the end of the fishing tape and Barry managed to use the grabbing tool and we were able to string the radar cable, hooray.  A major disappointment was the windows we ordered came but they were the wrong size, we did not check and double check the sizes, we want to exchange them but they don't have the windows we need in stock for 3 weeks.  We are going to have them sent to Martinique where we will be spending Christmas. 
We went to talk to the paint guy today, they have one more coat of barrier coat to put on the bottom before we can put the bottom paint on.  They are coming on Friday and we will be going in the water next Wed.  so there is an end in site.  It will be wonderful to be back on the water again.   I think the rain has stopped so time to do some more chores. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I decided to take some pictures to let you see what kind of a mess we are living with while we make our repairs, I did say it was a mess.
It is not fun.  We made some progress though, the carpenter came and fitted a bottom to this cupboard and I think the first set of chain plates should be ready to put back on today.  Then we will have to pull the next set. 
This is the cupboard where the bottom board was all water damaged and we replaced it.
Here are before and after picture of the dinghy oars. 
In case you were wondering how I managed to varnish an oar.  I hung it off the chain holding the jack stands together, it was protected from the rain by the boat and I thought they looked pretty good after 8 coats of varnish.  An innovative use for jack stand chains!!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Barry re-riveting the mast track.  

We experienced a 6.4 earthquake the other night.  Not something that I ever want to do on the hard again.  It was at night and I was watching a movie, the whole boat started shaking. I thought the wind must have.really come up and I looked outside.  Nope, it was calm and the boat was still shaking.  I was really afraid that the boat would fall over, thank heavens the stands were sturdy and although the boat really shook it stayed where it should.  Whew!!!
We are still very busy fixing up the boat.  We had a survey done and it was recommended that we pull our chain plates.  Those are the things that attach the shrouds (wires that hold us the mast) to the boat.  They are long skinny stainless steel plates which  go through the deck and are bolted on below. They have been leaking and one section of the deck was all wet and punky so we had to have that ground out and re-epoxied. Then one of the cupboards, the board at the bottom is rotten because of the leaking water so Barry ripped up board.  I am hoping to get a carpenter to replace it, Barry wants to put a piece of painted plywood in there, that was kind of okay when you couldn't see it but now he is talking about pulling more out and it would be different than the rest to the boat, so I am going to see if we can't get proper wood.  Anyway the inside of the boat is a mess, the stuff from the cupboards is piled up on the settees and the table, a real mess.  
I have almost finished polishing the boat, just one more section of the cockpit and the whole boat will be shiny.  I have 7 coats of varnish on the dinghy oars, now time to do the handrail on top of the cabin top and then polish the stainless and the top sides will look almost as good as the hull.  The bottom paint, new batteries, the radar, three new windows and Barry's new AIS are due to come in on Tues. so we will have more work then.  We have only pulled 2 chain plates and we have 6 more to go, fun, fun, fun!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

We spent last week visiting cruising buddies.  We had a great visit with the crews from Gavia Arctica, Toketie and Cop Out.  The last two boats left Canada with us and Toketie sailed back from Australia and have their boat at Maple Bay on Vancouver Island, while Cop Out was sold in Langkawi. We went to Saltspring Island to see Cop Out home. They have recently renovated, adding a bedroom with an ensuite bathroom and big walk in closet.  Wendy is a potter and at the moment they are building a potting studio below their main floor. 
While we were there a cement floor was poured and the walls were being framed in.  She will have a beautiful view of Ganges harbour.  A load of gravel, oh excuse me, a yard of 3/4 inch crush was delivered to make a driveway into the studio and to spread on their road.  Barry and I promptly dug in :) and loaded up first wheelbarrows and then the back of Ken's truck and proceeded to spread the gravel around.  As you can see there were compensations involved.  The hot tub was enjoyed by all at the end of a hot dusty day. 
It was nice to be afloat again, if only briefly on Toketie and we had a great visit with Linda and David.  The Captain of Gavia Arctica slaved away in the kitchen and produced a wonderful meal while we were there.  They have a home full of antique furniture and it is beautifully decorated. We really enjoyed catching up with our chums, it was great to catch up with them once again. 
David, Linda and I on Toketie in Maple Bay
We are headed to Calgary tonight and then on to Trinidad in the morning.  We are all ready to go, Doug our brother-in-law after putting up with us for almost a month is very kindly driving us to the airport.  We thought we had a buyer for our X-Trail but it turns out there are a few more things wrong with it than we thought.  We are leaving with our cousin to sell for us.  I hope there are not too many surprises when we get back to Cat's-Paw IV.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

                                 MOVING DAY                            
Well we accomplished one of our primary goals in returning to Canada today.  We consolidated our "stuff" and moved it into a smaller storage shed.  It took us three visits to the unit to trim down what we were going to keep.  We made three trips to the recycling area conveniently located 200 meters down the road, and three trips to the thrift shops in the Duncan area, managing to cull about 10 boxes worth.  What it comes down to is that we are going to save about $30.00 per month, which doesn't seem like much but over a five year period it would mean about $1,500.00 and that is a new main sail, so I think it was worth it. 
We were lucky and a smaller unit was available during the time period we were here in B.C.  It took us about an hour to transport our goods from one area about 100 meters to the other side of the storage area.  The mean red machine was loaded up and it coasted around the lot and manoeuvred around the stuff that was piled up outside the new unit. 
Note the mattress on the roof.  
All the heavy stuff was at the back of the old unit, on the bottom, so in order to get it in the back of the new unit all the lighter stuff was piled up outside awaiting the heavyweight boxes which were unearthed and transported to take their rightful places against the back wall.  
The old unit with the heavyweight big boxes against the back wall
The smaller newer unit with the boxes neatly piled in the back and the rest of the miscellaneous stuff added in at the end.
Barry really wanted me to get rid of that ironing board, but the frame is really heavy duty, and it is the best ironing board I have ever had, and just couldn't part with it.

 It was an interesting exercise, going through all the stuff.  I couldn't believe some of the things that had been packed and stored for 8 years.  There were half used bottles of shampoo, Q-tips, and the junk holders from the kitchen with pencils, old batteries, etc.  I guess I didn't get a chance to go through that stuff before it was packed up!  I could stand to throw stuff away for about two hours at a time and then I would just get overwhelmed and have to tell Barry I just couldn't do it any more and it was time to go back to Sherran's place  The first day I was completely ruthless, especially with my clothes and I gave lots of my old work clothes away.  The second day I went through a lot of my casual things like sweaters and fleece pants.  I just couldn't let go of most of them and we will pay to keep them for those cold Canadian winters that will be in our future. I am not sure but I think Barry managed to part with the container of socks he had!
The Lange Family
Now it is time to continue to work on accomplishing our other main goal in coming back to Canada, visiting with family and friends.  We are currently staying with Barry's older sister, Sherran and her partner, Doug, who have kindly let us stay with them.  We will be here longer than any other place we stayed in our trip across Canada, it is very kind of them to put up with us.  We have been spending lots of time visiting with Barry's Mom while we are here.  Now that our stuff has been taken care of, I want to get together with former cruisers that are in the area, Lynn and Debbie, David and Linda plus Ken and Wendy.  It will be great to catch up with them. The four months we have been here has flown by but it is a long time to be without your own space.  I am longing to get back to the boat and complete the repairs that are needed.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

We are now in the Okanagan visiting my brother and his wife.  They have been showing us a great time.  This morning we went out picking peaches, something we have never done before.  There is nothing quite like fruit ripened on the tree, the peaches are really sweet. We are going to have our fruit fixes for the next few weeks. The other day when the temperature hit the mid 30's we went floating down the channel in Penticton, unfortunately the camera's batteries went on strike so I was unable to get any pictures.  It is quite the tourist attraction, because if you have your own tube or blow up boat it doesn't cost a cent.  It took over 2 and 1/2 hours and we floated the better part of 5 km. At times we would run into a traffic jam of 4 or 5 floaties tied together and we would madly paddle with our arms to steer around them to find our own space.  
We also climbed the rather large hill behind Bob's house, something I have been wanting to do since he moved in.  We left early in the morning to avoid the heat and managed to get back to the vehicle before noon.  My brother Bob and his wife Barb went up with Barry and I and we managed to stick together almost all the way to the top. Near the top we got separated and we were both relieved to see each other back at the car.  I think those hills were echoing with the sounds of our shouts as we tried to locate each other.  Yesterday we indulged in the other time tested Okanagan past time, wine tasting.  There are lots of vineyards within a stone's throw of my brother's place and we managed to find some pretty decent g.  We also managed to fit in another round of golf, much to Barry's delight.  I find the game quite frustrating, at times I can manage a great drive while at others, the ball just dribbles off in any direction after I have topped it, jeeze!!
Gavin, our great nephew, James and Kendra's son. 

Our great niece, Avery, James and Kendra's daughter

Our nephew David, his wife, Roxan and our great niece, Adeline. 
Before we arrived we indulged in all sorts of family visiting in Alberta. We were entertained in the homes of our niece's and nephew's at James and Kendra's, David and Roxan's and Mark and Laura's.  I am pleased to tell you that all of them can really cook and we truly enjoyed spending time with them and getting to know them and their progeny better.  Kids grow up so fast, the last time we saw Avery she was just learning to crawl.   

My sister-in-law Margaret and her son James

We were invited out to see our nephew James' work site about 30 minutes outside of Rocky Mountain House.  He works in a gas plant, one of the by products of the gas in sulphur and the plant stockpiles it and then processes it for sale.  Here you can see the layers where they poured the molten sulphur before it solidified into a huge pan.  

Barry gearing up in his brother's motor cycle duds and taking his bike out for a spin. We thought he would be gone for a good while but he was back in short order!!  Must be getting old!
As we passed through the Rockies on our way to BC.  Taking in our ninth province on our cross Canada tour, we enjoyed the majesty or the gorgeous mountains.  We headed south from Revelstoke and crossed the Arrow Lakes twice on a ferry in a very picturesque route to the Okanagan from Calgary.  Canada truly is a large, beautiful country.