Saturday, September 30, 2006

Grenada Cont'd September 2006

One thing we neglected to mention in our past report is Carnaval, Grenada style. Grenada’s carnival was moved to mid August so as not to conflict with Trinidad’s February carnival. Most of the events happen in St. George’s during the evening/middle of the night. There were music and beauty competitions, paint slugging, all night dancing and costume parades. We had heard conflicting reports as to the safety for cruisers, although after the fact, there were no problems reported. However we had no intention to move RAFT to the Lagoon, so we would not be attending any of the night activities. We did enjoy the costume parade, the costumes similar to what we had seen in the Dominican Republic minus the wacking.

We have been pleasantly surprised with the weather so far this summer/fall. Bev had been afraid that the summer would be unbearably hot and humid. In August we found that the days were warm, we sweat (women glow) during the day, but enjoyed a refreshing dip in the afternoon. Thank goodness we can swim in the anchorage!! It does cool down in the evening. However, in September it did get much warmer. We could have predicted this, considering the migration of the sun between June and September causes the sun to be directly overhead. The days are much hotter, and sleeping in the V berth (even with our fans) has become difficult. Often one or both of us moves during the night, looking for a cooler place, the salon, cockpit, or deck.

Throughout September we continued with our early morning listening to three different weather reports, Eric from Trinidad at 0630, Chris Parker at 0700 and NOAA on the Cruisers Net at 0730. Thankfully all the wind gods were with us, and a gentle "windy" season was enjoyed by all in the Caribbean. Even the US got a much needed break from the previous years adverse weather.

However we could not become complacent. It is necessary to keep RAFT in "ready" condition, in case the weather did turn nasty. It was not our plans to "run", Ross would prefer to use the mangroves. The boats that stayed in the Hog Island anchorage were better off during Ivan, than anywhere else in Grenada. The anchors are well stuck in the mangrove "goop" and the island and reefs do an exceptional job at reducing the surf.

Boat Chores

After being "on the road" for the past four months, travelling from the Dominican Republic to Grenada, more than regular maintenance must be attended to. We also have been working on some of the boat projects. Last week Ross scrubbed the fuel and tanks, had the heat exchanger welded to stop a leak, and made a new bracket for the alternator, so that the belts could be tightened and run on hi output. The next jobs include replacing the roller on the anchor roller, and buying and installing more cleats, in case we have to fasten lines to the mangroves. We don't have any midship cleats. (this project was never completed.)

We have encountered a problem with low voltage in the batteries even though we have been running the engine. So Ross borrowed a generator and spent 3 days recharging and equalizing our batteries. He was trying to increase our voltage of both the batteries and our recharging system (alternator on the engine). Since we are not moving, and the wind has been almost non existent, and just enough cloud cover to reduce our solar panels input, Ross has been very cognizant of our energy expenditure. All his tweaking with the existing batteries, alternator, and regulator, has led him to the conclusion that our regulator is pooched, and that is one component we do not carry a spare. He could reinstall the old alternator with the builtin regulator, but would rather not. Instead we have joined the list of many boaters in Grenada who are waiting for parts. We have ordered a new regulator which should show up next week...but we know other boaters who have been told the same thing and are still waiting. In the meantime, he has built a homemade "rheostat" from 2 terminal strips and many small lights and one fan, all hooked up in parallel series to give him the resistance he is aiming for. This temporary fix should handle the short term until the replacement regulator arrives. Plus we have been very frugal with our energy requirements. When we were moving, we usually ran the engine more keeping the batteries charged. The new regulator came in from St Maarten on time but was defective and had to be sent back so we continued on with the temporary regulator. Welcome to cruising and fixing your boat in exotic locations. (Picture above: Ross's "rheostat")

Now we have discovered that the alternator is defective. Living on a boat takes its toll. We carry a spare—no problem but need to get the old one rebuilt. Although we could call the marine mechanics, we always choose to seek out the land solution. Time to seek out local help. Enter Chetley. Bev went off on her morning walk and I took the bus into to St George's to find reputably best alternator repairman on the island. Our instructions were to get on the bus in Woburn and ask the conductor to get off at Chetley's place--no problem man everybody knows Chetley. Three quarters of the way to St George's the bus stops beside a broken down, overgrown Volvo parked under a Mango tree and a Toyota Corolla. This is Chetley's place of business and if he isn’t there, walk a 100 feet back up the road to the Pinto Variety Store and ask for Chetley. The woman in the store said that Chetley was gone, and she did not know when he would be back, this means today, tomorrow or the next day, and that there was no good time to see. Just drop by anytime with your alternator and he will look after it if you can find him. Ross did manage to get a phone number out of her that was for Chetley's home but of course he is never there.

So it was back on the bus to Whisper Cove Marina to wait for Bev to get back from her walk. Once back there the Carib beer truck pulls in for the marina with a beer delivery. There is no one there for the to pay for the delivery because Shelley (the owner) is off on the morning walk with Bev. The beer delivery is 2 days late and the marina is almost out of beer. Rather than let him leave without making his delivery Ross opted to pay for the beer. We now have a 1/3 ownership in the bar stock at Whisper Cove. So goes the morning in Grenada. We eventually did catch up with Chetley and got things organized this morning with the alternator. Phoned Chetley and arranged to meet him at the Pinto Variety Store. Looks like he will repair the alternator for $80 EC. Not too bad a deal and I am probably only being overcharged by $20 EC. He even said that he would have it ready by 11:00 am today. Its now 2:00 pm and we have not heard from him so expect he will miss his self imposed deadline. No surprise there, that's GMT anyway. (Grenada Maybe Time)

Things grow very fast down here. The Crabs and Krill can be heard munching on the bottom of the boat even though Bev scrapes it off every 2-3 weeks. Our northern paints are not as toxic as the Caribbean ones, the bottom paint is still on the boat but it does not stop the growth. That's the reason for the haul out in November when we go home. We will fix the minor bumps and scratches on the bottom and rudder at the same time. Same applies to the oil changes and zinc replacements.

Picture: Bev cleaning anchor bridle

Hash House Harriers

Another new experience. The first one we participated in was at Whisper Cove. About 150 runner/walkers were expected to take part in the event. Bev wanted to take part in the trail experience, and Ross was going to help Whisper Cove run the bar, serving beer before and after. It was a great time, despite the trail being set at low tide, and the event happened at high tide, resulting in a lot of the event taking place in knee to waist deep water. But it was a great way to see the island and meet some of the local people and a lot of the university students.

The next one was two weeks later in Grenville about 15 miles east of here, and Bev wanted to do it. So she organized a bus to go. Ross will drink and socialize with the locals and Bev will walk. The off road trek was incredible, along a valley in the rain forest, up to the top of the hill, incredible views to Carriacou (north) and Grenville. Upon return, we got to try an local delicacy, "oildown".

Next Hash: A full moon hash at Fort Frederick. Hash House Harriers Website [Drinkers with a Walking Problem]

Picture: Bev greeted at the end of a wet Hash