Monday, November 25, 2013


It was a good feeling to be able to relax in the morning, and not have to rush. Late in the morning we collected our documents, and dinghied to the wharf. Of course Christopher spotted us immediately, and came by to chat. Whe we asked him for directions (mistake) for the port, which was in plain view, but entrance seemed blocked from the fish market, which was fenced off. Christopher offered to show us a short cut, which passed through a steep wooded hill, kind of slippery going up. Al was not happy, and made some remarks, but Christopher assured us that it was much shorter than going around the town. Well, I had seen the entrance on the street the day before, on our way back. It would have been easier walking on the street as opposed being alone with a strange man in the wilderness. Oh well, we knew that he was harmless, and he took us to the guard at the entrance to the port. When we explained our business, we were allowed inside, and Christopher still lead the way, and stayed with us when we were talking to the officers. First customs, then immigration. Immigration officer was a nice lady, and chatted with us while Al was filling the form. Apparently she had been to Canada many times, having family and friends in Toronto. Of course she had seen and loved Hamilton as well, on her way to the Niagara area. We were instant friends with so much to talk about!

I was thinking of having lunch at the Reef, but Doyle mentions that it would be closed on Monday nights. So I asked the officer, and she confimed, but indicated that there was another restaurant next door, which would be open.

We set out to the town, and got into a minibus up to the Reef. As we saw some cars parked in its grounds, we decided to check if they were open. Yes, they were. It was a very pleasent setting, just like the tea gardens in Turkey, small wooden tables under the shade of several trees, which were like oversized umbrellas. And the view! It was facing the eastern beach, with a small island close by. The sea was not rough that day, but breezy. The food was not spectacular, but reasonably priced. Overall it was a great experience.

On our way back, we had to walk, while no buses came by, but it was not far from the town. It appears that American medical  universities set up shop in most of the islands. The biggest is in Grenada, St George's Univesity is well known, and its campus resembles the universities we know. The one in Vieux Fort is an apartmentin the middle of the road, not very impressive, but I haven't seen the inside, so no comment. However, in the Carribean when there is an American university, there is an IGA market. It appears that they have to provide some familiar foods for the students. We checked it out too. At least it was cool inside, gave us a breather.
All in all, it was interesting and pleasent  to look around the town, which is very small and sleepy. For  all the major commercial activity that a port and airport would expected to bring to a town that size, it did not look prosperous at all. However, people on the streets were nice and friendly, and the merchants were used to dealing with tourists, but not spoiled by them, i.e every white face was not a dollar sign. So we chatted along and had a good time.

On our way back to the boat, we talked to Ken, who told us that they were coming to Rodney Bay, about the same time as us. We promised to spend some together, and exchanged e mail addresses.


The water was calm as a mirror, and  we started motoring up against the current. Progress was slow with 2 knots of current, but steady. As we approached the tip of the island, some wind encouraged us to raise the main sail. We motor sailed for a while, riding the wind, which died down as we reached the channel. We had to turn into the wind in order to set the course to north east, to the south-east tip of St Lucia.  Vieux Fort is tucked in a little bay at the very tip of the island, and protected from the south and east winds by a small peninsula lying to its south.

After half an hour, all the winds and waves died,  except some sea-swells, which were gentle and infrequent, a real anomaly according to our experience in this part of the world. The ride was very pleasent but hot. We were able to explore the north and eastern side of St Vincent (having nothing better to do), and started to feel bored. We also looked at the other sail boats in the distance, trying to guess where they were headed. Nobody was going our way, since Vieux Fort is not a popular yacht destination, while approaching it is hard,  against the wind and current. It is a fishing village with a commercial port and international airport.

We felt a little lonely, so entertained each other, ate sandwiches at the helm. He even took a shower while I was watching.

After a couple of hours, little dark clouds started to gather around us, which were so low that I had the urge to reach out to touch them. The fog enveloped St Lucia, but visibility was not too bad as we got closer.  While we were debating if it was going to start raining, a sudden wind started to hit us on the nose, with almost square waves. We found ourselves in a major storm, with abut 8 miles to go to reach safety. I was a bit worried, but since we could see how close we were to the land, we gritted our teeth and held on.  Al was saying that none of the forecast sites reported it, otherwise we would have stayed on. Oh well, we have to experience some excitement sometime. The storm was localized, and only lasted until we reached the port , and completely died down, letting the sun start baking us.

Doyle mentiones two small areas as amenable for anchoring, one just outside of the three sided break-water protecting the fishing boats, where dinghies were welcome, and the other at the southern side of the bay, opposite. We saw two sail-boats anchored on the north, and a big luxury motor boat at the south side. Of course we headed to the break-water, it being close to the village and the port, where we had to clear in at the customs office.

We anchored between the two boats, and were getting ready to get to the shore. Since it was Sunday (November 16th, 2013) we hoped to find a customs officer. Then we heard a dinghy coming our way, and the owner (Ken) hailed Al. He introduced himself as the owner of the Canadian catamaran anchored next to us, Lost Our Marbles; and cautined us about some theft having occured recently during the day, and promised to keep an eye on our boat while we would be away. That was a bit unwelcome news, but what can one do? Lock the doors and windows, and hope for the best.

As we started chatting, we learned that Ken was originally from St Lucia, but grew up in Gloucester (our neighborhood in Ottawa), almost next to our home, his sister having lived in our condo complex. Ken's wife Diane was from Cambridge (Ont), and they returned to St Lucia when Ken got an early retirement. Small world eh!
Ken also told us that the customs office would be closed on Sundays, but we could clear in at the airport, about 45 minutes away on foot. Completely doable, except the mid afternoon sun glaring made it a bit difficult. There would be no buses (minibuses really) running on Sundays. Ken told us the route to take.

On we went in our dinghy, to the fishermen's wharf. As we approached an islander (Christopher) on the dock tried to direct us to the side where some big  boats were tied to some wooden cleats. Nowhere to secure our cable with the lock. Al did not listen to him, and headed to the northern side, where some chrome loops were installed. While securing the boat, Al shouted that our insurance company did not cover the boat when it was not locked. Christopher assured us that he wanted to keep an eye on our boat, which was the reason for his suggestion, but he could also see that part as well. He looked pathetic, so Al gave him a few bucks, and asked him to watch.

We went merrily on our way, which meandered through the town, and around the whole grounds of the airport. It was more than an hour and a half. Nothing for me, but Al is not very fond of walking. It was quite an interesting road, passing by the eastern shore of the island, with beautiful beaches and parks. Many minibuses were parked around the park,  the drivers obviously having a picnic with their families.
We also passed by a restaurant called The Reef, facing the east shore on the beach. Doyle raves about the place, so I was curious, but we had no time. We were to be off the next morning!

We reached the airport at long last, and saw that 7-8 planes from Europe, Us and Canada  had landed at the same time, customs was a beehive, officers frustrated. We went into the security zone, (I doubt that we could do it in Canada/US without being arrested) and mentioned our boat registration. One officer gave Al the forms and told us to get out. Al was looking around to find a table to fill the form, and I insisted on going to the small cafe located at the departure side. We had been on our feet close to two hours, and the officers were to be busy for a while, no need to hurry!
We sat down, and Al took his time filling the form and taking some refreshments. I quit drinking beer or coffee at such occasions. Now everwhere I ask for tea, much more soothing and refreshing. Of course Al can not understand not having a cold drink when it is hot. Well, I don't understand either, but it works. My mother used to say that drinking a hot beverage when it was hot, would  make one sweat, hence cool the body. As far as I am concerned, it works.

Anyway, after a half hour we returned to the secure zone to give the form. The officer told us to wait at least an hour, before they could even look our way. We went out, and decided to go back to the boat and try the office at the port the next morning.

 It was almost 4:00 pm, no time to linger around in unfamiliar environment!

We learned from somebody the price of a taxi to town was 20 EC, and found one on the spot. We were tired enough to get back in style. I realized that we were tired, and there was no rush to continue the next morning. I put my foot down to stay one more night, and Al did not object. Our next leg was about 4 hours, up to Marigot Bay on the west coast, almost in the middle of the island. Last time we passed by St Lucia, we had stayed at the Pitons, close to the south corner of the island for our staging. This time we wanted to explore all the good anchorages, to fall back on, in case we could not stay long in St Anne.


Another day of calm seas and almost no wind! We motor sailed with just the genoa, but could not make more than 4 knots, due to 2 knots of head on current. Slowly but surely, we crawled to St Vincent. Around 1:00 pm, we were tied to a mooring ball at the front, and to the pier at the back, by the help of Sean, who had greeted us at the mouth of the bay. People have been complaining about the boat-boys (some of them quite old) who are rumored to be fighting among themselves to get the business of helping the yachts. The two times we had been here, we only saw stoic islanders trying to earn a few bucks by providing an essential service (tying the boat to shore requires a free dinghy and not easy for the people like us who carry it on the davids). The mooring balls are so close to each other, that securing the boat quickly becomes vital. Long story short, it was a pleasent experience, and we had a good relationship with all the people who came to help.  One man on a wooden boat asked for the mooring charge of 20 EC dollars, and mentioned that we could get it back if we ate at the restaurant, who owned the mooring balls. The restaurant was the set for the movie called Pirates Of The Caribeean, starring Johnnie Depp. It is quite desolate at the moment, with a few customers, who only stop there because of the customs office. We learned that the officer came around 5:00 pm on Saturdays, so we asked the fee collector to take us to shore. Geting in and out of his little row boat was an ordeal, since it did not have a horizontal bottom for a foot-hold, and very fickle, worse than a canoe. But we managed. We sat at the restaurant for a couple of hours, had a few beers and lunch. The customs officer showed up earlier than expected, so Al gathered our documents and hurried to the office almost adjacent to the restaurant. There is not much else in that small and desolate bay; a two-storey building complex, housing a few offices (all but the customs were empty) and the restaurant with a couple of rooms for hire at the pier, and a few huts in the distance at the beach. It gets deserted at night.

Before we went to bed that evening, Al exchanged some pleasentries with the owner of the neighbouring yacht. He was from Brazil, spoke little English, but was able to communicate that he was planning on leaving the next morning around 6:00 am.
When I got up in the morning around 5:30, there was no sign of life on the boat. Al had been worried that the boat-boys would not come early to the bay to release our lines. Our only hope was the neighbour leaving before us, giving us room to swing around.

I made tea and was puttering about, while Al was still in bed, when I heard the Brazilian shouting at us. I looked out, and he made a gesture indicating that he was going to untie our line first, since his line was tied to the same post, under ours. He jumped into his dinghy, and stated paddling towards the post. I alerted Al  immediately, so he got ready at the helm, and started the engines. Good thing! As soon as one line was loose, which I started to haul in, Ruyam II shifted towards the neighbour. Al had to steer her away to avoid a collision, while the Brazilian was untying his own boat. Al decided on the spot that we should start our trip immediately, he could have breakfast underway. Wow, that was a first; he would never start the day without eating, and taking his sweet time getting  ready. I on the other hand, wake up early and get ready in a flash!

Anyway, our way to Veiux Fort, St Lucia was about 35 miles, so starting early made sense. As well, Doyle warns about some wrap around winds at the northern tip of St Vincent, which come from nowhere and hit one suddenly, so he  suggests motor-sailing to be able to control the boat.


We had a long way to Bequia from Tyrrell Bay, Carriacou, about 35 miles; so we started early, raised our sails immediately and went under way. It was a very pleasent trip, most of it on wind power and quiet, with the exception of occasional rain. We had two of the GPS devices on, and both showed our direction dead on, but Al could not believe that we were headed towards the islands ahead of us, one closer, the other kind of shrouded in the fog. The way we were going, Al thought that we were going to pass them, and go where? No other islands in sight. As we approached (traveling almost sideways due to the push of the current and wind), the land mass opened up, and we spotted Kingstown as a large cluster of white houses on the island at the back. We saw that Bequia also had a southern town apart from Admiralty Bay, which is around the corner of Devils' s Table, the bay facing west.

By the time we anchored at Princess Margaret Beach and got ready to go to Customs and Immigration, it was almost 3:00 pm. Anyway, we had to clear in, so jumped in the dinghy, and rushed there, in order to avoid paying double fees for over-time (after 4:00). When we got to the counter, there was nobody else, so the nice officer gave us his full attention. Al mentioned having EC-clear (central computerized clearence system for the Eastern Caribbean), and the officer found us in the system, which was entered in Nevis and corrected in Monserrat in the spring of 2012. He told us that most of the information was missing, and he started to fill in the blanks. It took him quite a long time, and other people started rolling in. His sargeant came to the counter to help, and subtly reprimanded the nice officer for taking too long. Al thinks that he got embarrassed and forgot to save the changes he made to the form, since when we looked at the printout afterwards, the information did not make any sense. Anyway, we decided not to mention the electronic clearence any more. We will get it fixed in Wallilabou on our way out.

When the formalities were over, we realized that we were dead tired. I asked Al to stop at a cafe/bar close to the dinghy and have a breather before going back to the boat. It was nice to spend some time on land - but we missed Ruyam II immediately. Land is too hot, dusty, full of bugs (my nemesis), noisy etc.

Next day our trip to Wallilabou, St Vincent was not going to be very long, so we decided to get water in the morning. Doyle mentions a marina at Admiralty, a good place to try you would think. We called all the telephone numbers; one was restricted in-coming (sounds like a cellular), the other was out of service. When we looked, we could not see any boats tied to the docks. Al decided that they went out of business, so called Daffodil Marine Services, who bring the water or diesel to the boats. When Al called, they answered very professionally, brought the water on in their boat ten minutes after the order, and waited patiently while Al fumbled with our multiple filters. The whole thing lasted less than half an hour. We had used the same service two years previously as well, and I found them more efficient and professional this time. It appears that they started to make a lot of money from servicing the hundreds of yachts visiting Bequia year round.

We were ready before 10:00, so got underway earlier than anticipated.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


We reached Carriacou in good time, despite the fog and the rain, which made the weather quite cooler. We had to wear our jackets which had been sitting in the closet for some time (Al's was a birthday present from Deniz, which was selected by their son, able seaman Mehmet, so very special; mine was a present from Al, also special).
We anchored in the bay, in close proximity to others all around. Then we spotted a 38 Lagoon with a Canadian flag (Me Gusta), that we had seen at St George's. After a while, I also saw the yacht that had played hide and seek with us, anchored a few boats back. It seemed that everybody was headed the same way. Tyrrell Bay is the point of entry/exit to Grenada, so first thing was to clear Customs and Immigration. As we were getting ready to leave for the office, a couple (Rick and Miriam of Me Gusta) in their dinghy approached and hailed us.   Rick metioned having seen us in St George's, and we acknowledged, since we had admired their new boat (2010 model), which looks better in every way (please don't feel bad Ruyam II, we love you all the same).

Anyway, Rick started chatting with Al in a very friendly manner, and we invited them for a drink a little later, after we dealt with the business at hand. Miriam mentioned, that at the moment she was baking bread anyway, they would have more time later.

They did come around 4:00 pm, carrying their own drinks and a recipe for the bread. Apparently the trick of making bread on the boat was using the pressure cooker as an oven, by taking the sealer ring out. I use it for cooking, but never heard of baking bread in it, I'll  try it one day.

We had a very nice visit, which got even better when the other Canadian couple, Celine and Claud joined us. Their boat is called Nanny-Farr (it sounds like my name, so I won't forget it). Rick told us the history of their friendship; their boats were tied  side by side at one of the locks in the Canadian waterways near Montreal, Quebec; which was the starting point for both of their journeys south into the Caribbean, after they retired from work (but not from life). They did not exactly travel together, but met up in some places, during the last two years. We hope to see them again, since we are headed to the same place, although they are planning to sail further than Martinique eventually, as was their custom every year, possibly up to BVI and back. Rick's love of sailing occasionally drives Miriam up the wall apparently, when he refuses to turn the engines on, even with 2 knots of winds. Thankfully we do not have that problem, but we rely on the engines a little too much sometimes, nevertheless, I'm quite happy that we have power (wind or engine) at all times. However, when we first started sailing on our small Mystere hobby-cat about ten years ago, Al decided to be as stubborn one day, while we were trying to sail on the Ottawa river when the wind completely died down, and we started to get drifted towards Montreal with the steady current. I suggested using the paddles to get us back to our yacht club, but Al wanted to sail (!) When he saw that it was pointless, we grabbed one of the mooring balls of the club in our path, and Al jumped in the water to get to our power boat tied at the docks. However, a good samaritan passing by in a boat came to our rescue and towed us to the club instead. That day we learned not to ever sail down-stream from the club, and use paddles when necessary.


After the last year' s inactivity, we started the new season with a relatively ambitious plan. We decided to reach St Anne, Martinique in less than a week, since Al saw a window of extremely calm weather for about 7-8 days, starting with Thursday, November 14, 2013.

We did our major provisioning from the discount stores of St George's, Grenada, like the Marketing Board, CK'S, ACE, and the adjoining Bulk Meat store and Foodland, with the help of our driver and good friend Richard. He expressed surprise about our shopping habits; since all the ex-pats go to Spice Island Mall and buy from IGA, paying almost double for the food that is not very different from the other markets. There are some items that only IGA carries, such as good yogurt and cream cheese, cookies, bread sticks etc. But it was not worth our while to visit IGA this time, we are headed to France, cheese and bread won't be lacking; but the prices remain to be seen.

We also obtained a full tank of cooking gas from our other driver and friend George on the last day, when Al panicked, realizing that the second tank at Ruyam II was empty (as if we were getting ready to an Atlantic passage). We spent half of the day and a lot of money trying to find a place to fill our tank; Richard suggested George, who performs all kinds of services for yacht owners, including taking care of the boats in their absences.

Anyway, we were ready to roll early in the morning, but it started raining. No matter, it did not last long. It was the rainy season, and it had been coming down in buckets a few times a day, but not for long.

We weighed anchor at 7:30 hours, and started up the west coast of Grenada; destination Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, from where we were to clear out of customs. I was a bit apprehensive about this trip, because of the route passing through a narrow path between the active volcano (Kick 'em Jenny) and a series of rocks and small islands. The year before, when Deniz and Zeynep were  visiting, we had attempted the same trip when the wind was much stronger, with high seas. As soon as we passed Gouyave (close to the north-west corner of Grenada), we started to feel the rap-around winds. Since Zeynep was sitting at the bow, I went down to accompany her, and started to watch the waves coming towards us. It gave me such a fear, that I asked everybody to quit the trip and turn around. Al was a bit reluctant, but our gracious guests humored me, and we went south to visit Prickly Bay instead.

Anyway, this time we were determined to get under way. I did not have a bit of anxiety; the seas and wind was calm, we were making good progress, and playing hide and seek with a mono-hull, who had started the same trip just ahead of us. As they were trying to sail, they were cris-crossing the field, as opposed to our steady motor sailing towards the channel.

As we approached to the no-sail zone of the volcano, the sky became completely black, and the fog renderred visibility almost to nil. We had seen some other sail boats coming and going a bit earlier, so we knew that they were somewhere in our path, hopefully not too close. I turned the main GPS on, and watched our progress in the danger zones, and the fog turned into heavy rain, but lifted after a while. I think I sweated a bit, but was not overly anxious. I guess I am getting used to the excitement. I have to admit that, I had missed the feel of the wind on my face, and the exilaration of  looking over the sea from the cock-pit.

Thank God, the fear that paralyzed me last season, is over. I think  the reason for being so paranoid last year was a series of mishaps, that had occured at the beginning; like launching Ruyam II with loose engine belts and no cooling water (poor mechanical service and skipper' s lack of experience); radar reflectors dropping on my head while tidying up the lines right after the launch; starter battery failing at the morning of Deniz-Zeynep' s arrival, both of the belts being shredded while underway, etc, etc.

This year, I do not have any bad feelings about going places, I hope we will have a season of safe and happy sailing.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Before the new season starts

Thank God we are back in Grenada, after a summer of constant work.

This year we decided to rent out our condo in Ottawa and help my daughter to buy a house in Hamilton, big enough to accomodate us as well while we stay in Canada.

It just came to me when I saw the offered rental conract for the third year for the condo, which increased my poor daughter's rent to almost 1, 500.- dollars. I kow that paying that much a month would cover any mortgage payment and related expenses. So I suggested looking for a house, and she reluctantly agreed, after I assured her that we would look for a place with an in-law suite, with seperate kitchen, bath and entrance. As a mater of fact, she got warmer to he idea after actually seeing such a house, where her friends had got built to live with the parents of the wife. She realized that it is a passable concept for people oher than the Chinese and Indian Canadians (the husband is Mexican). Anyway, we started looking at some condos with developed basements, but none was suitable. If they had seperate entrance, they lacked a kitchen, or windows, etc. One day, after Al came to Hamilton to visit Ayse, we were spending time outside the house, while the cleaning lady was busy at home, we passed by a house for sale, advertising an  in-law suite. I called the realtor a Chinese lady (Jian), which sounds like  my brother's name.

Anyway, I called Jian, and she came in about an hour. The house looked small and old from the outside, so we were not prepared for the nice looking tiles and kitchen , as well as all the amenities we wanted, except the seperate entrance. But the deal maker was the price, it was 100 thousand less than all the condos we had seen. Its location was also not bad, two blocks away from my daughter'rented condo. She was familiar with the area, and not too far away from her work place.
We put an ofer, and decided to get possession in he middle of September, when my ordeal started. I had to return to Ottawa to clear our condo, the clutter of which had not been dealt with for fifteen years.   I used dozens of garbage bags to seperate garbage from   charity. The hardest was to convince Al to deem the items he wished to throw in the garbage as  potentially useful for somebody. We  made two trips to Shepherds Of Good Hope dowtown Ottawa and numerous ones to Salvation Army close to our home. Then packed-tranported our stuff (filled the large truck to the rim)-filled our side of the house wihout much settling, and started painting Ayse' s side. Three rooms had to be painted  because of hideous colours, and did or got done a lot of repairs and changes to almost everyhing in the house. After a month and a half of constant work, Ayse' s stuff came. The movers who did both of the transporting, were asking me how we were going to fit into his seemingly small house.

When it was completely done (about a week before we started foe Grenada), we liked what we did, but before then, Al was ready to explode with every occasion. He was sour grapes the whole time. He was angry with me for moving away from Ottawa, where we have a lot of friends. Yes, but I was spending half of my time in summer staying at my daughter' place anyway. Now we have good accommodations at least. I hope to see our friends in the Caribbean or Hamilton.

We have two friends in Hamilton, whom we knew from before, as well our neigbours are quite friendly. The moment the truck brought our furniture, we met with our neighbours across the street. They are a nice family feom Afghanistan. The man of the house, Mohammad, offered to park his car elsewhere when he heard that the truck was coming to our driveway, and introduced himself to Al. They hit it off immediately. After a couple of hours, when the truck had left, he came to our door, accompanied wih two nice ladies, bringing food to feed an army. I invited them inside, but they declined very graciosly. So we had some conversations during the renovations in the house until we were ready, and invited them for tea a few days before we left. It seems that we are going to have  a neighbour whom we can trust to help Ayse, if she needed immediate assistance.

A week ago (3rd of November), we landed in St Geoege's, Grenada. We stayed at La Sagesse resort, and worked on the boat for three days, and launched on Wednes day (the 7th). We are very happy!