Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hash Harriers

Saturday afternoon, at 3:30 pm, Patrick, our friendly driver, who also makes two shopping runs from the Clark’s Court Marina, also located in the bay, across from Whisper Cove. The marina is a small outfit, but has a work bench for small repairs and laundry facilities, but no drier. A huge back yard instead, to hang the clothes to dry. I lately started to do my own laundry, although it costs almost the same as the laundry service. I found the laundry service not up to par, and started wondering if they were not using any detergent. I even gave my own detergent, telling the ladies that I preferred the scent of my own, but no luck. I am sure the ladies marked me as a simpleton, and probably used my detergent for their own laundry. 

Anyway, a group of people from the boats anchored at the bay filled Patrick’s mini bus and had a mini journey around the hills – don’t ask me where exactly. We climbed some mountains, came down some others, and reached a small building at the side overlooking a valley, and swarming with people. I had no idea about the size of the ex-pat population of Grenada, which appeared to have come down there in droves. The moment we stepped down the bus, I saw Ron, our oldest friend/advisor, who works at Island Water World Chandlery. He is single, living aboard his catamaran, so he is knowledgeable about all the activities around town. 

We were urged to register, so we approached the make shift desk. A lady gave us the sheet for the novices (labelled virgins), where we wrote down our names. They instructed us to follow the scraps of papers dropped at the walking/running trails in the wilderness, mentioning that only two of them were false (oh joy), and set the hundreds of people loose. Ron told us that if we would not try to lead the way, or lag too behind, we would be fine. Oh well, we started to follow the people at the obvious start of the trail. 

 We went into it for about half an hour, then lost the ones at the front, when I slowed down a bit because of the slippery slope down. A group of people at our back congregated, one of them yelling to others where they were, and led us to a side which became obvious that was leading nowhere. Al used his previous experience from Indonesia, where he had joined a similar activity organized by the ex-pats there; himself being away from home with a lot of week-end time in his hands. He brought us back to the spot where we lost the trail, and picked it up with a little search. We went back at it, at every turn. Exclaiming “paper”, after seeing the confetti type paper piled at the corners or along the trails. We went through some rugged, slippery and at times quite narrow trails, at times with nothing to clutch on, other than each other’s hands. Our naked arms and legs got slashed by some innocent looking long grass, which we learned to be called “razor grass”. Our multiple cuts, even though not deep, did not heal for a week or so afterwards.

All in all, it was a rough hike of an hour and a half for us, including the de-tour; but a lot of fun. At the end, of course we went back to the bar, beer and food galore. We talked with Ron and a lady from Calgary, Canada, who was visiting her daughter, a med student at St George’s University. The daughter was studying, so sent her mother off her hair for the day. She mockingly complained about her ambitious daughter, who doggedly decided to become a medical doctor at the age of 38, against all odds and barriers in Canada, and came to Grenada! In order to pay for the expense, the mother had to go back to work after a short retirement. I hope her daughter would appreciate her selflessness. For me, it would be the ultimate sacrifice!

The evening closed with free beer and virgin certificates. They announced that the certificates would be handed down by two people standing at the half wall beside the road, yelling instructions to gather all the virgins at the spot. We had heard some rumors about what to expect, so hung back, but facing the activity. After making sure that everybody was gathered, a few hashers at the top started to douse the group with beer. Everybody got drenched with the cascade of beer coming down their heads and clothing. It was a good thing that people had a lot to drink before this episode, so took it by stride and laughed their heads off. We were lucky to be spared, since it got somewhat cool high up in the mountains at that hour.

Clark’s Court Bay

When we were shopping at IGA one Friday, we met an old acquaintance from our stay in Grenada Marine last year, Marie-Claude/Stephan, who were staying at Port Louis Marina for a while. They mentioned their intention of having dinner at Whisper Cove Marina with a group of Quebecois and French/Swiss people, starting from Port Louis by free taxi service from the other marina. For the couple of days we also were at Port Louis, so we said by all means. Around 5:00 pm the taxi rounded us up; Marie-Claude/Stephan; Marie-Claude/Michel (apparently the Swiss had a shortage of names around the late fifties), Jack and us, and took us all the way to Clark’s Court Bay, where Whisper Cove Marina is located. It is at the southern coast, almost at the middle, after Prickly Bay. We got down, and admired the sleepy marina, which is operated by three Quebecois, a couple and a chef. Thursday nights is roasted chicken special, and people from all over Grenada congregate there. Just like St Hubert/Swiss Chalet chicken of Canada. We had a great dinner, met with thee couples from Canada, and heard good things about the Clarke’s Court Bay in general. We decided to go there, since Belmont had become untenable, but I hate marina living. 

Next morning we were on the move, destination Clarke’s Court. We poured over the maps, read Doyle’s suggestions about the good anchorages around the bay, and set sail. The winds were favorable up to Saline Point, westernmost part of Grenada; then of course, we had to turn east. I begged Al to drop the sails before turning, and he humoured me. When we got to the part of the sea where two currents meet, which run at direct angles with each other, along with the full force of the east wind on the nose, we were ready with our engines. Long story short, we bumped our way through the swells and the wind and the current coming at us for an hour and a half. As we approached the entrance of the bay, which is quite near to the west shore of the Caligvny Island, clearly marked by several buoys, we saw a group of sailboats coming out, obviously a regatta, just starting their leg from the bay. It was a delight to see them come out, which also showed us where to go in, before we noticed the buoys. 

We took a turn in the bay; saw some boats anchored at the west part of the bay, in deep waters, 35 feet or more. Not our cup of tea. We went to the east coast, into a small indention, where some boats were moored and anchored. While we were trying to anchor, some people from the other boats yelled to us, pointing out the wide swinging range of the boats, so that we would not come too close. No problem, we are not French, we do not like close proximity to other boats! 

We anchored at a safe distance from everybody, and settled down. Oh boy, what Ruyam II did was not swinging, it was turning around 360 degrees, all the time. One could get dizzy looking out the window. I could not understand what the currents and the wind were doing, usually coming from different directions at all times. And the water further in the bay is kind of murky and full of nutrients. Our small nook had the best water quality, but nevertheless, it was impossible to see the bottom, 25 feet deep. But it was not rolly, although breezy. Perfect conditions to live!

We stayed there for a week, bumped into a couple we had seen last year in Fort De France, Martinique; Jim/Donna of Gumption. They told us about the Hash Harriers run (a kind of paper-chase hike/run in the bush, terminating with a party with lots of beer!) taking place every Saturday which piqued my interest. 

We immediately signed in.

Life Goes On

It has been a while since I had the opportunity to connect my computer to a power source, hence the lull in my writing. The trouble it turned out to be our batteries, which became inefficient over their seven years of life aboard Ruyam II, coupled with relying solely on our solar chargers, rarely running the engines, since we do not move much lately. Anyway, whenever we tried to charge my computer on board by the inverter, it started screaming; a sign about the shape of the batteries! 

The other day, our friendly mechanic Herv from Grenada Marine came all the way to Belmont, and diagnosed the problem. He suggested changing all six of the house batteries at the beginning of the next season, and told Al to make do with the existing ones, revving up the engines when they became too low. Al had been obsessed with the battery readings ever since we had refrigeration problems during the visit of Deniz / Zeynep. I thought that the ultra-low readings that the gauge was showing could not be accurate, since everything was mostly working, except some down times on our fridge. Herv confirmed that our system was barely producing enough energy for the everyday usage, any extras were draining it, starting with turning off the fridge. Before Herv, we had Basil, the refrigeration mechanic operating out of Port Louis among other places, to change its thermostat, and refill the gas, thinking that the occasional melt down was due to mechanical problems. Diagnosis is half of the solution. All we need is a $1,000.- odd dollars. 

What else is new?