Friday, October 20, 2006

Ross deals with Head Problems
(What life is really like in Paradise)

Head Problem #1 After the daring rescue at sea what could be more dramatic that than saving the RAFT from filling up with body waste as a result to of blocked joker valves on the toilet. Up to my elbows in it this morning while Bev is off shopping for the Pot Luck tonight. In the last two weeks we have run out of our Puerto Rico supply of 1 ply toilet paper and have enjoyed the pleasures of two ply as this is all that is available here on the island unless we want to buy special paper from the marine stores at $3.00 USD a roll. This coupled with salt/urea crystal build up in the hose lead to this morning’s head problem. Why do they always break/block/dam up when you need them most first thing in the morning? Well the dirty deed is over and the hatches are open to remove the sweet aroma from the cabin. I am enjoying my first cup of coffee and awaiting Bev's return. Guess we will have to separate the 2 plys from here on out. Will call it an economy move to stretch our dollars. That's life in paradise today.
Head Problem #2
The head performed admirably for the next 24 hours. 2 ply paper religiously separated into 1 ply. But by 6:00 am the next morning it plugged up again. Undid the Joker valve and stuck a wire up the tube only to find that it was blocked at the fitting going into the holding tank. Breaking hose connection on the holding tank and on the joker valve fitting is not what I had wanted to do but now there was no choice-- Bev had to go pee. Remove the nav station seat-- 8 screws, exposes the top of the tank completely. Undo 2 gear clamps loosens the input hose. No leverage to pull. Empty the cupboard under the head sink. 30 mins of pulling and twisting with one hand--all there is room to get on there, still no disconnection. Dismantle the head sink and drain. Break the tail piece on the sink drain. Now I can get two hands on the hose to pull. 30 minutes later still do disconnection. Finally pry the hose off the fitting and what do we find? Six wads of 1 play paper jammed at the end of the pipe bound up with large chunks of salt/urea crystals that have broken off the walls of the pipe during the previous clearing. The salt buildup is only about 1/16th-1/8th inch thick but with the extra heavy dose of vinegar we offered up to the toilet god yesterday it was enough to catch the shredded paper offering. Now the chore was to get the 42 inch length of pipe out from 3 bulkheads and two 90 degree bends. Guess what, it doesn't want to bend and flex like it did when it was new. Surprise Surprise. Three scraped knuckles & two bruised arms later out pops the hose. The hose gets beaten into submission with the old trusty claw hammer and 2 lbs of kidney stones appear on the head floor in front of the toilet bowl. Now we must reverse all of the process. Hose still does not want to bend, rags all smell this S##T, boat smells and all the gear clamp connections still leak. Each day we continue to check and retighten, hoping it will stop. Keep your fingers crossed.
Head problem #3 started this morning with the downing of Breakfast. Ross made the mistake of chewing too hard on his granola and broke a tooth. Now we are in for another new adventure in Grenada. This is a big filling so expect to hear the words CROWN from the dentist. No appointments here so we are told. Just go to the office and wait in line.
Thursdays morning and all seems to be going much better. The head discharge hose seems to have stopped leaking but there is a fishy smell coming from the rim of the bowl. Likely something has died in the rim. It will take a few days to decompose and then hopefully the smell will go away. My trip to the dentist was successful on Wednesday. Got there early (10:00 am) Dentist came in at 10:30 (wasn't supposed to be in until 11:00 am). We had no appointment and were told to just show up at 11:00 am. He looked at the tooth said it was broken. I agreed. Gave me a shot of Freezing and sent me to the waiting room, called in the next patient--froze the second patient and call me back into the patient room. Remove the filling--refilled and had me out by 10:50 am. Charged me $90 EC or $36 CDN. Even if this lasts 1 year it was less than a temporary filling would have cost in Canada. His equipment was clean but not new. His office was destroyed by Ivan but he has salvaged most of it. Works with just his receptionist and only one chair. So head problem #3 is now fixed.
Head problem #4 Bev has been complaining that her hair is too long and there didn’t seem to be a haircutter in the anchorage. Out of desperation she talked another boater into giving her a beach cut this morning. Claims she feels much better now.
Next Problem: The computer was broken this morning. Took me all morning to discover that the sleep switch that shuts the screen off when you close the lid was sticking down. Hence no screen when you started up the computer. Happy we were able to get this fixed, as most cruiser’s computer fixes are not this easy.
Not all life here is problems, we are still really enjoying our time in Grenada and the great people we are meeting. We had an interesting experience Saturday morning. We are sitting in the cockpit about 10 am enjoying a 2nd cup of coffee in a downpour. It had been raining hard the past 24 hours so we had collected all the rain water we could hold. We had noticed a young local guy rowing a rectangular box (6' x 8') while fishing. Along with the downpour, there were gusty winds, so he had grabbed the mooring ball beside us and was holding on. We yelled at him to see if he was okay and if he would like to come alongside. He climbed into the cockpit, soaking wet, just wearing a pair of shorts. We gave him a towel to dry off, and made him so hot chocolate. His name was Darren, and he had made his "raft" as he called it, from left over wood at the construction site he worked at during the week. He had floatation, looked like empty caulking tubes, 2 x 6" sides, and oars made of 2x2" boards with plywood blades attached. He hoped to get a real boat built when he saved some more money. Nice young man, that once the rain stopped, went back to fishing.
What else is new? We are taking dancing lessons, have had 2 so far, learning the samba and the mauba. One of the cruisers in the anchorage is offering them free, so we are trying. Also Bev is now playing bridge Sunday afternoons.
Boats are starting to move, so we do expect we will see/hear from some of boating friends soon as they return from Trinidad and Venezuela. We are hoping that one boat will bring us some R12, as we had to give some of ours away to another boater who needed it

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Autumn in Grenada October 2006, originally uploaded by S/V Raft.

Picture: sunset over Clarke's Court Bay

Today was an exciting day. This morning, being Thursday, Bev was getting ready to go for her walk with the other boaters through the hills of Woburn. Ross was in the dinghy, going to blow up the tubes, we have a very slow leak, not worth the effort to fix, so we add air about every 2 weeks. But today, when he tried to undo the valve, the entire valve, and backing came out, blowing the inner ring into the pontoon, deflating the dinghy on one side instantly. He called for Bev to help, using the motor crane, she had to lift the outboard motor up while Ross held up the deflated tube so the dinghy would not fill with water, then get the dinghy up on the davits so we could work on it. Ross was able to fish out the missing part from inside the pontoon, but couldn't separate the valve cover from the valve. We soaked it in hot fresh water, to break the salt seal, but still no luck. So he drilled two pin holes in the outer ring, and used the metal dividers to get some leverage, and release the valve. We were successful, and then were able to reset the valve and parts back where they we supposed to be and pumped it up and surprisingly it held air. We still went over to Whisper Cove, but Bev had missed the walking group, but went on her own anyway. The yfi internet is still down, so Ross hung around with Lucy and Rick, (Flying Cloud) even got Lucy to make us breakfast when Bev got back.

We were just returning to RAFT, and as we approached we could hear voices on the VHF radio, Que Rico was hard on the reef. Ross, and about 6 other dinghies, plus a couple of larger power boats, including White Squall with its twin 200 horsepower motors quickly responded to the call for help. It took about half an hour, but Que Rico, a very strong Whitby 42 (Canadian built boat) was pulled off the reef, by White Squall, and towed to Clarke's Court Marina and put to dock. Their motor had overheated, malfunctioning water pump, so they had been trying to sail the tricky entrance to the Bay, and clipped the corner of the reef. The wind had piped up, and in no time, they were on their side, in about 2 feet of water. Thankfully there appears to be minimal damage, some scratches and bruises, but they are not taking on water, and their steering seems okay. These old sailboats can really take a licking!!

Things are changing here in Grenada. Even the weather guros are hinting that Hurricane season could be over, and already boats are starting to move. We are starting to see boats arrive back from Trinidad daily, and some of the boats that have been with us all summer are now moving on. Such is the live of a sailor.

All summer long in the anchorage we have been hearing and seeing the survey and construction teams working on Hog Island. Rumour has it that the Four Seasons Resort is dividing the island into lots for upscale waterfront retreats to be built. It really seems a shame, that this pristine deserted island would be torn up and developed when there are some many unfinished projects all up and down the island chain.

On one of our walks we went for a walk on the Hog Island to see first hand the devastation on the south side from the construction. They have stripped clear all the vegetation and left the soil exposed to erosion. This is a Trinny group working for a British firm. They know about erosion control but because it is not required here they neglect it and the people who buy these 1 acre lots will have to contend with it. They have bulldozed in a road and surveyed off lots to try and get investors and purchasers. Plans call for a bridge between Hog and the main land as well. The clear cutting is probably for the aerial photos and to make the lots accessible to the prospective purchasers. No idea on the cost but based on what they have invested so far this summer, expect it to be plenty.

Roger's beach bar & BBQ on the northside has become quite the focal point of entertainment on Sundays. Live band with SAX, Steel Pan, drums and a singer every week. Both locals and cruisers are participating. Its getting a little crowded in the anchorage on weekend with the boats coming over form Prickly Fridays and returning Monday. As well the runabout traffic (locals ferried out 20 ft boats with 200hp motors, only one that big, most are 40hp, but they still go fast) has made the anchorage dangerous at night and even during the day. The cruiser on the next boat was going between our boat and his to pick up his wife and was T-boned by one of these guys (drunk). No one was hurt thankfully. Big discussion on the Beach with the locals and the driver and owner of the boat. The Locals are trying to police the situation themselves and don't want the authorities involved. The activity level on the beach is likely a show of force by the locals to show the purchasers of the Island that the beaches are public property. The developers have already stated that they intend to leave Roger's bar as is because there is supposed to be a 10 meter strip above the high water mark that is designated public. But Roger doesn’t own his land, just squats, and his makeshift bar was set up by the cruisers. He has no electricity, running water, or bathrooms but what do you expect at an island beach bar. Only time will tell but if this is like most of the half finished projects we have seen as we traveled south, the investors will get their financing then declare the project unfeasible and abscond the funds and the vegetation will grow back.

We had a chance to discuss "Embarrassment of Mangos" with some of the locals yesterday as well. Most didn't even know that there was a book written about the area. We did find out that Mr Butters now has a store/farm just east of Westhall (10 min from here to the east, Dwight is ok and back to diving for a living (Dingess' son who got the bends) and Dingess still lives here in Woburn but her husband has since died. As for purchasing and eating Mangos, the season is almost over here now. The best kind are Julies and Ceylons because the do not have stringy pulp that gets caught in your teeth. To eat a Mango you hold the stem end in your hand and bite off a small portion of the tip. From there you peel back the skin like you would a banana. Only works really well if the mango is ripe otherwise the skin just tears off in little pieces like an orange. Good Luck (they cost us a $1 EC here when we can't find them free).