Monday, April 15, 2013

Dealing with the Chain

Al was adamant about the need to untwist the chain, but in the meantime he thought of examining the gipsy wheel on the windlass, to see if it had anything to do with the slipping. When he dismantled it, we saw that the wheel had been badly eroded. First stop at Island Water World, to see if we could replace it, and get some free advice. Unfortunately they did not carry our particular part, but the advice was what we had thought; going to a deep part of the sea, and letting the chain loose, to get it turn freely around to untwist. Easier said than done!

We bought the part, along with a swivel to attach to the anchor, at Budget Marine. When we compared the two, it was a wonder that the old one was working at all. Al cleaned all the existing parts of the windlass, and installed the new one, unhooked the anchor, and took Ruyam II to 150 ft of water, just a bit off Belmont and stopped the engines. We let loose the chain, and started to drift in very strong wind and choppy water. The chain was so taught because of the wind pressure, it did not completely turn around. When I started to recoil it, same slipping persisted. A thought of holding the chain to help push it back, but it was dangerous to stick his hand in the middle. We thought of pulling the chain from the loose end, after it passed through the windlass. That did the trick, when Al lowered himself into the chain pit and pulled on the chain after it passed through the gipsy wheel, slipping stopped, and I was able to pull the chain easily. However, this does not seem a proper solution. We have no idea how to get rid of the twist in our chain. Maybe Grenada Marine will have a solution when we have RUYAM II on land in a few weeks.

Back to Town

Our guests were to depart by a very early flight on Sunday, so we had arranged for them a night’s stay at Grooms Beach, a stone throw’s away from the airport on Saturday. We brought them back to Belmont on Friday, and decided to take a ball before we solved the problem of slipping anchor chain. Seems easy, since Belmont has many mooring balls; however they seem to be diminishing every time we look. 

When we came to Belmont after a short but bumpy ride (current and wind pushing us west), which turned arduous when we headed north east after turning around Saline Point, Al spotted a ball very close to shore, and protected from the howling wind. There was a mono-hull moored to the next ball. When the guy there saw our intention of taking the ball, he hollered that it was no good, and he motioned us the one behind him. Al thought that he was trying to scare us away from himself, but we could not take any chances. We got to the one shown, and I easily got the lines through the pennant, but Al and I were tying the lines, something snapped and we started to move back. Release the lines immediately, try once more! We looked around and found two, but Al insisted on the one very close to several boats all around. Captain’s orders, what can we say? I hooked on to the rope under a knot, but was not able to pull it up to slide the line into the loop over it. My hook got stuck, which I had to let go, after it got bent from the pressure. Al idled around, and we saw a young man in a dingy coming our way to help out. He had to plunge in the water to bring out the pennant, which was so long that it was covered with mud, scraping the bottom for ages. Aren’t sailors amazing? Everybody watches everybody else, to come for help if needed, sometime without being asked. I love this life!

Saturday right after lunch, we got Richard wait for us at Port Louis, to take us Grooms Beach, to spend the afternoon swimming, after they settled down at the hotel. We went to the beach of the La Luna Resort, had a drink afterwards, bid farewell to our friends and came back to Ruyam II before it got dark.

Adventures at Clarke’s Court Bay

Al wanted to take our guests to the restaurant at Whisper Cove Marina, to participate in their chicken special offered on Thursday nights. So on Thursday, we braved the 9 feet waves, 20 knot wind on the nose and counter current for about an hour to get to Clarke’s Court from Prickly, and tried to anchor several times. Although our usual anchoring nook was not crowded, there was one big mono-hull too close to where we wanted to stay.  At first try the anchor slipped, so I had to retract it with difficulty. Ever since we had anchored in this bay the first time, our chain got badly twisted from constantly turning around 360 degrees. As a result, weighing anchor got more difficult every time; chain slipping on the windlass and rattling like crazy, slowing the process considerably. 

After almost spending an hour, we anchored albeit a bit too close to the other boat, and started getting ready to make a short dingy ride to Le Phare Bleu Marina at the adjacent bay to the east, to show the facility to our guests and have lunch. I somehow got the bright idea to take a shower while Al and Selcuk were lowering the dingy. I noticed in the process that the water in the shower floor was not going anywhere. I yelled for Al’s attention, who promptly dismantled the pump, but could not see the problem. He connected the lines to the starboard bilge pump to drain the existing water. Afterwards he re-connected the regular shower pump right side up this time! Thinking that problem was probably a priming issue, which seemed to get it working after all. I was hovering over Al while he was sweating from his labours in such close quarters, and started to glare at me for rushing him. So we decided to stay put and have lunch at the boat. While we were sitting at the cock-pit after eating, Al saw the mono-hull swinging towards us, and thought that it was too close, and decided that we should move to a mooring ball instead. The dingy was in water, but still hooked to the davids.

Al started the engines, and I labored over weighing anchor, and came over to the helm to suggest that we should try the moorings of Whisper Cove instead of the one almost adjacent to us, since we were to spend the evening at the marina. Made sense, who needs to ride in the dingy, all the way back in the dark? Al turned the boat around to change route, and immediately stopped, running down the back steps.  Apparently he looked back to check the dinghy, and saw that it was lying on its side. Both of us rushed down, to turn it around. Al released the dingy painter (line), which is always tied at the cleat on the side, and was able to push the side back. Al also got hold of the gas jug which was swimming next to the dingy. Thankfully the security cable was still holding it in place, and our outside shoes, which would normally be in the dingy, had been safely removed earlier for the trip. Phew, no harm done, just a run of adrenaline for no apparent reason, other than trying to make a short cut.

We got to the marina around the corner from where we were in five minutes, and approached one of the few mooring balls. Wouldn’t you know it, at the precise moment, it started to blow thirty odd knots, or so it seemed; but I was able to catch the loop at the top of the ball, and slipped both of the lines through. While Al and I were tying the lines, the owner of the marina rushed to our side in his dingy, and informed Al that we had to tie the lines to the pennant, not to the top of the ball. What pennant? The one that he had to reach down and bring out.  He helped to slip in the lines and explained that they were in the process of attaching floaters to the pennants, and in the meantime they were providing the service themselves. We thanked him, and I suggested he took our guests to the marina, so that they could use their WiFi before dinner. Poor things, they had been ready to go out the whole time, and were set back with one thing and the other. We stayed back at Ruyam II to tie loose ends, and removed ourselves around the dinner reservation time, to relax after the ordeal. My medication was almost done, so I was able to enjoy a glass of wine at last!

Hash Harriers from a Distance and the Tour of Grenada

Our guests are usually interested in walking and even hiking, so when I suggested we join the Hash Harriers, Nural showed a lot of enthusiasm which was not at all shared by Al. Being a polite host, he did not object right away, but did not make the necessary inquiries as to the place selected for the run before it was too late. While we were getting ready to leave Ruyam II on the Saturday afternoon, we heard a commotion and people speaking on loud-speakers at the small park adjacent to the posh Calabash Resort, across the bay from us. We realized that the run was just starting at the park, which we could have probably joined, but we opted out to walk on our own to the Secret Harbour Marina, about half an hour away from Prickly Bay Marina on foot. It is a nice walk among million-dollar homes, to the other side of the east ridge of Prickly, called L’Ance Aux Epines. The marina has a vast and tranquil bar/sitting area overlooking the harbour, my favorite place to sit and relax. 

On our way to the bar, we saw the tell-tale scraps of paper on the side of the road, which showed that some of the run was taking place on the very road we were going. We settled at a table, and started chatting away. Nural shared my preference for the spot, and we had a nice time relaxing.  Then we saw a queue of people walking at the bottom of the east ridge of the harbour, lined with mangroves. When we observed closely, we saw that they kept coming from the other side of the ridge, had to turn around the point and walking back to the road. The ridge was quite steep, so some of the people were trying to walk/swim in the water to pass over some boulders in the way. We observed that everybody was moving slowly, having quite a difficult time, but quitting mid-way was not an option. While we enjoyed our stay, it started to rain, quite heavily at times. We had the best vantage point to see the struggle of the harriers, while we sat in the safety of the building. We later met with some of them on our way back; all were covered with mud from head to foot, most were groggy and exhausted, one guy was limping with one bare foot, having lost his shoe on the way. Nural and I were thankful that we did not make the mistake of joining this run.

The next day our driver Richard picked us up from Prickly Bay marina for our regular tour of the island. The forts at St. George’s, the chocolate factory at Belmont Estates, and the River Rum factory where we had lunch and enjoyed very much, ending the day with a hike to Seven Sisters Water falls for a dip in the fresh water.

A Visit to the Doctor

I had been sensing some irritation in my right ear, ever since I ventured into the Port Louis Marina swimming pool with our guests on the day of their arrival, but did not concern myself with it. The pool seemed quite dirty after a number of fellow marina inhabitants plunged in during the day, without bothering to shower before, so Al outwardly showed his disgust for the swimmers and the pool. Rest of us sat at the sidelines as long as possible in the shade, which was not even cool; and went in after all, trying to keep our heads out of the water. It appears that I was not successful in protecting my ear, which is susceptible to infection.

 In about a week, the irritation intensified into throbbing in the morning of our planned shopping trip. We stopped in a pharmacy next to the government operated food store at the Excel Mall. I asked the pharmacist if she could give me ear drops for my infection, but of course she would not. Instead she called Dr Michael Radix, and secured and immediate appointment, giving us directions to his office at the Grande Anse Shopping Centre. We know the place inside out, since it is across the street form Scotiabank, my bank. The centre has a fairly big grocery store as well as a pharmacy. 

The four of us got into a bus from Excel, and got to the doctor’s office in less than five minutes.  The waiting area was deserted; the receptionist got my personal information, and led me into the examination room almost immediately. Dr Radix turned out to be an elderly islander, very soft spoken and laid back. He motioned me to a chair beside his desk, and asked about my problem. I told him I had an air infection, and he accepted to go with that before he sat me on the examination table to look into my ears. He first checked the left one, which was fine, then the infected one. I think he had a hard time thrusting his instrument into my ear, and declared that it was very soar. It is interesting that I never feel the onset of the infection before it reaches the full-blown stage, which usually startles the doctors when they look. That happened several times in my life, when doctors immediately started reprimanding me for postponing seeking help for so long. 

Anyway, Dr Radix was not a man of many words, so he just sat at his desk, and wrote a prescription, telling me that his receptionist was going to type it up. The whole experience was five minutes, and I got the prescription promptly, after paying 70.00 EC (around $25.00 dollars). Filling the prescription turned out to be much harder, due to our own incompetence. We were planning on shopping at the Spice Island Mall, where an IGA (Canadian grocery chain) is located, along with some high end clothing and art stores, a small pharmacy and a small food court. 

We walked over to the mall, which is fifteen minutes on foot. While the rest of us were shopping at the IGA, I went to the pharmacy and gave the prescription. The lady at the counter brought a pair of ear plugs from the general area, and picked up the phone. After a short discussion, indicated to me that even the third item on the prescription, the ear plugs could not be provided at that location. She assured me that if we tried the Drug Mart at the roundabout, a five minute walk from the mall, through a field, we would be lucky. Al and I set out to go, asking our guests to wait for us at the gourmet with our food purchases. 

We got to the Drug Mart, but had to wait at least half an hour before our order was taken, and an equal length of time for getting the antibiotics, without the other items in the list. However, the lady was kind enough to call other pharmacies, and declared to us that the one at Grande Anse had everything else. We walked back where we started, and found the pharmacy in the complex, deserted of any customers, and full of supplies. He sold us the ear drops, and the plugs made of silicone instead of plastic in no time. It would have saved us a trip and needless waiting period, if we had tried the pharmacy housed at the same complex as the doctor (da!), but we needed the exercise let’s say. Al told the pharmacist about our ordeal, and pointed out that his competition was swarming with customers, which attracted his attention. I wonder if he could do something to promote his store.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience; the professionalism of the people involved surpassed my expectations. I have to mention that Al had a similar experience, when he bought his prescription glasses at the optical store at St George’s, across the street from the Cruise Terminal. He had to wait for about a month, but it was well worth it. His glasses are multi-focus, anti-glare, feather-weight etc., etc. and cost a fortune in Canada, only a fraction of which is covered by my government insurance. Here, he paid $280.00 dollars, mostly for the fashionable frames than the lenses. Hopefully, the insurance company will pay $200.00 of it, reducing the damage!