S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Guest Blog - Lisa

Awe yes Trinidad. Before I finish up where Sharon left off I would like to add a little tidbit of my own. What made it such an adventure for me was sleeping on the boat on the bench behind the table. It only took a couple of nights of banging my knees into the table a few times to finally get the hang of getting up and going to the head without banging them. But sleeping on the boat had its benefits. I always got the first cup of coffee and got to hear “the net” which was the Cruisers news for the day.

Let me continue where Sharon left off...

We did get to see the leatherback turtles nest their eggs and see the Island, a great experience.

Our last day... the BIG 10th yr Anniversary Day for Sharon and Joe!!!

We got a late start to our day out on the boat. It wasn’t until around noon when we finally headed out for the day. The day was very warm and was slightly overcast. We headed back to Scotland Bay to anchor, so we could swim and fish for the day. The most important plan of the day was for Joe and Sharon to renew their vows at around 5:30pm out on the water.

At around 4:15ish we pulled up anchor and headed for the perfect spot for Sharon and Joe to renew their vows. We decided drifting in the middle of the "Mouth of the Dragon" would be the perfect spot. We were surrounded by water, green mountains and a blue gray sky, a perfect setting for the exchange of vows. Sharon and Joe headed to the bow to stand face to face to recite their vows, while the four of us looked on. Just as they started their vows, dolphins started to jump out of the water on the starboard side of the boat, we couldn’t have planned that any better. The tears, kisses and hugs came from the bow of the boat as the vows were exchanged, while Jill, Dean, Roger, and I got misty in the back watching the romance and love that was exchanged. When vows were done the champagne was popped, and the dolphins came back for a visit jumping and swimming next to the bow. How to end a romantic day and a perfect vacation. That night we shared a nice dinner and headed back to the boat to pack to go home.

I am sure I speak for all of us, Roger, Joe, and Sharon, that this was and unforgettable adventure, thanks to our good friends Jill and Dean.

Thanks Jill and Dean for everything and Safe Travels.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Guest Blog - Joe and Sharon M/V Captain Easy

Soooooo, Joe wanted an adventure. That's what he said when he handed me the airline tickets to Trinidad to visit our good friends, Dean and Jill, for our 10 year anniversary. The excitement started with the flight being on a very, very small prop plane, at least it seemed very, very small to me. I don't think so. Flight changed....yahoo we are off on our adventure, along with two other good friends, Roger and Lisa.

6:00 a.m. flight, perky as can be! We can't wait to get there! Eight hours and 2 yogurts later, we finally arrive. Dean and Jill waiting on the dock. Wow, do they look amazing! So rested and HAPPY! Head to the boat, go to jump on, lose the pocketbook in the water. HELP, HELP, JOE! In he jumps, clothes and all. My hero. The adventure has started! Punchy and excited we head to the local bar with a crowd of other cruisers. Fun, fun, fun! Listen to all the amazing stories of all at the table and say....what are we waiting for?

Dean is on a mission....by the time we leave on Wednesday, he will have convinced us to do this and do it soon. He has already found us several boats!

Our anniversary adventure: Check into the hotel room.....SINGLE BEDS, OH DEAR! But it's okay, we are on an adventure.

Finally....head out to Scotland Bay. Fun in the sun, beautiful bay, amazing scenery! Could not have asked for a more perfect day. Swam and splashed in the water all day! , Time to head back, up goes the sail. First time sailing, I can't wait, Oh Boy. Everyone on the boat wished the had a camera TO CAPTURE MY STUNNED EXPRESSION the first time the boat heeled. You see, we are power boaters and I did not have a clue. Did not take long for me to fall in love with sailing. Keep on heeling!

Eat, drink and laugh all day long...... Today we head out on an excursion. We hope to see most of the island and explore, explore, and explore...leatherback turtles, beautiful green parakeets, food, drink and laugh all day.

BIG DAY TOMORROW. Anniversary. We renew our wedding vows on the Delilah with our good friends. I have already made up my vows. Did it weeks ago. Joe says he did, too, and lost them when he saved my pocketbook. Yeah Right, Joe. Something tells me he will con Dean and Jill into helping him!

It will be the best anniversary I can ever remember. In the company of wonderful friends, a beautiful island, and the man who made it all happen....my husband, Joe. Thank you all for this amazing adventure!


Wednesday, July 12
Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad

It poured for most of the day yesterday, and we watched with a mixture of fascination and horror as a caramel-colored bloom of water made its way into the anchorage from a local river. Soon it had surrounded the boat. And with the wind blowing one direction, the tide pushing us another, and this new runoff pushing yet another, all the boats in the anchorage seemed to be facing different directions. We got awfully close to a catamaran, and since they had anchored first, it behooved us to up anchor and move...again...in the rain.

Dean was not thrilled about the job we did reanchoring, so he elected to skip the tour we had booked with some friends. We had planned to take a bus the northeast coast of Trinidad in the hopes of spotting (read this next part in a Jacques Cousteau voice) a rare and endangered leatherback turtle making her way up the beach to lay her eggs. The drive to this remote part of the island takes over two hours (four when there is horrendous traffic near the capitol, as there was last night). Because the turtles generally only lay their eggs at night, we left at dinnertime and didn't expect to return before two in the morning. It's a long trip, but the bus we were taking was air conditioned, and unlike the public maxi taxis, it had enough seats for everyone--no sharing necessary. We even were able to watch movies on the way there and back.

Turtle egg laying season officially lasts from March through August, with each turtle returning to the beach seven times--once every eight or ten days--to dig a three-foot deep hole in the sand and lay about 100 eggs. About six weeks later, if all goes well, the baby turtles hatch from those eggs and make a beeline for the ocean. Most turtles have finished laying by the end of June, so we were not guaranteed that we would see anything more than sand and some empty egg shells, but since Trinidad is one of the few places in the world where these turtles come to lay eggs, and since I might never have the chance again, I thought it was worth the effort.

We arrived at the beach by 9 o'clock, and the locals, who have been trained by biologists to lead tours and watch out for the welfare of these prehistoric-looking turtles, rushed us down to the beach, as a couple of turtles had just come up from the surf and started digging. We were warned not to take flash photographs, as that disorients the turtles, so you'll have to rely on my descriptions of what happened next.

We didn't see the first turtle on the beach until we had almost stepped on her. She had hauled herself out of the water using her flippers, but was either spooked us or discouraged by the steep incline on that part of the beach, so she turned back to the water immediately. The guide told us she would swim further down the beach and try another spot.

The second turtle we came across was bigger, about four feet long, and she had already started to dig a hole for her eggs. Her back flippers looked rather floppy and useless, but she was able to reach down behind herself and scoop the dirt out of a narrow hole. Then she went into what the guide would describe as a trance, and she began laying eggs in the hole. During this part the turtle seemed fairly oblivious to the crowd of people around her, and the guide allowed us move up to her soccer ball-sized head. I was able to touch her thick skin and the smooth shell, which is soft, unlike the shells of other turtles I've seen.

After her eggs were laid, the turtle packed earth down on top of them using her back flippers, and then with her powerful, long front flippers, she flung sand all around the area to help disguise the location of the nest.

It looked to me like she was pretty exhausted by then, but she still had to haul all 1,000 pounds of herself back down the beach to the water. Just that part took ten minutes. The whole process must have taken over an hour, but it was fascinating watching her work. I could have stood there all night.

Before we left we were brought into a small hut, where the guides had kept back a few newborn turtles that had hatched just as we were arriving. They were so tiny, just a few inches long, compared to the tabletop-size mothers that had just come up the beach. I was allowed to hold one little guy, and he (or she) stopped trying to swim and lay there quietly when placed in my hands.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Trinidad! Hooray!

Sunday, 9 July 2006
Chaguaramas, Trinidad
N 10 degrees, 40.609 minutes
W 061 degrees, 38.317 minutes

I had been dreading this passage: it was to be a 16-hour overnight sail, and I had really had enough of those for a while. Jill and I have taken to doing 3-hour shifts during these long overnights. Typically, Jill would do the 6PM-9PM, I would do the 9PM-Midnight, Jill the Midnight-3AM, and I the 3AM-6AM. Theoretically, we each would get 6 hours of sleep. However, it just never works that way. The 6PM-9PM is really too early to sleep, and the overnight shifts are usually interrupted by calls over the VHF or sail changes or something of that nature. I get very cranky when I don't get enough sleep.

In addition to my reluctance to sail any more overnights, we've been having engine problems. That, coupled with the need to pass through the "Dragon's Mouth," a narrow body of water in Trinidad, through which the current runs to 3 knots against the wind and south-going vessels, meant that I was more unenthusiastic than ever.

The trip turned out to be everything I was dreading, though it had a happy ending. We left St. George at 1PM Saturday, unfurled the genoa, and turned the engine off. We were barreling along the east coast of Grenada, and all was well with the world. But when we reached the southern corner of the island, with its confused seas and swirling currents, Jill and I started to get a little, shall we say, green. We each had some Phenergen, which helped. It's the drug used by hospitals for those coming out of general anesthesia; therefore, unlike other seasickness medications, it will work even if taken after one begins to feel unwell.

We had plenty of wind, eventually setting a double-reefed main and double-reefed genoa once we were free of land. Finally, we were able to sail! And sail we did, through the night, all 80-odd miles from Grenada to Trinidad. The sea conditions were relatively calm, and the wind, though higher than predicted, put us on something between a close reach and a beam reach, which is a fast and comfortable point of sail for us. At times we were making 6.5 knots, fairly screaming along ahead of our companion boats.

Because so many cruisers were taking advantage of the allegedly calmer weather to head from Grenada to Trinidad, there was lots of VHF traffic among the boats, so neither of us slept very well (I should point out that on Delilah, the VHF is below decks, so any traffic necessarily wakes the slumbering crew). In the early morning hours (about 2AM), we were nearing two oil rigs off the coast of Trinidad. The wind was letting up, and the current was fairly strong against us. Our speed had gone down to 1.5 knots, and we could no longer make headway toward our waypoint. We started the engine. Five minutes later, it died.

It was the same problem that had cropped up for the first time two days earlier: air in the fuel lines. We have tried (as per Mr. Martyn's suggestion during a previous engine issue) pressurizing the fuel line to see where fuel leaks, but we found no leaking fuel. I'm at a loss, and we aren't able to call our consultant in Wilmington. Sometimes we can leave the engine on for a few hours, sometimes mere minutes. The last day at anchor in Grenada we thought we had solved the problem, but here we were in the middle of the passage, and it had reared its ugly head again. Ah, well. We'll find the leak someday.

One could argue whether what happened next was a blessing or a curse. The wind picked up again, but not at the pleasant 15-18 knots we had been enjoying. It was up to 20-25 knots, with gusts to 30, and had clocked around, of course, and was nearly on the nose. Even with greatly reduced sail, we were flying along with the rail in the water, and for a while, until we got everything settled, both Jill and I had to stay in the cockpi.

So, from 3AM to 9AM, I was worrying about the "Dragon's Mouth." How would we get through? At about 9AM, I bled the air from the engine yet again and started it. The tide had changed to our favor, so we were merely motoring against 2 knots of current or so. There was no wind. If the engine died, we would be pushed about wherever the current wanted to take us. Not a pleasant thought.

But the engine behaved itself perfectly, we made it through the cut, and we prepared to come alongside the customs dock. We had been warned that customs gets very annoyed if boats anchor out and dinghy in to customs: they don't like to dinghy out to boats to check them out. The customs dock is tucked into a narrow corner of the bay, and it has room for 2 boats. There were 2 boats already docked, and another doing circles waiting. Jill and I were nervous enough about the engine's dying again that we decided to risk custom's ire and anchor out. We found a spot in 33 feet of water, fairly close to another boat. We dinghied in to customs.

Contrary to my expectations, customs and immigration were no problem at all! I did have to walk to the nearest hotel to have copies made, as the copier in the customs office was on the blink. It took an hour, and we were free to go.

I was so very tired that I slept for hours, unable to move my limbs. When I arose, at 5PM or so, I couldn't form coherent sentences. Jill functions better, though she does get, let's say, emotional. It takes a full night's sleep for us to be ourselves again. Such is the toll that an overnight exacts.

Chaguaramas isn't the prettiest place. It is mostly industrial, with no residential area that I can see; and the dark water, turned murky by runoff from the Orinoco, makes it clear that we are really in South America, not the Caribbean. However, this area is the single best place around for yacht services--cheap, efficient, and available. There are literally dozens of marinas, and innumerable shops offering every kind of supply or service. We're here to stay for quite a while. This weekend four friends from our marina in Charlestown are flying in to visit. We'll have a blast!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Independence Day

Saturday, July 8
The Lagoon, St. George, Grenada

Being that Grenada did NOT ratify its Constitution on July 4, the people of Grenada believe that July 4 is just another day. Undeterred, we nominated Dreamweaver, who has the biggest boat (by far--it's a 48-foot Krogan trawler), to host our celebration. Paul and Karin are southerners, and they keep a tiled smoker on their top deck for just such occasions.

The food at the party was a strange mix of American cookout meets West Indian vegetable market. We had potato salad; mahi mahi with mango chutney; chocolate cake; and nutmeg ice cream. Nutmeg ice cream is surprisingly good, so I saved room for a second helping.

Val on Eira introduced a new party game for the adults, where each person had to write down a true sentence about him or herself on a sheet of paper. The sheets were scrambled and selected randomly by another to read, and then everyone had to guess who wrote the sentence. Here is what I learned about my fellow cruisers, without naming names: one cruiser has spent a night in a Georgia jail, another once partied at the pyramids in Egypt with the Grateful Dead, another had a horse that was struck by lightning, another hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, and another had lunch with Jimmy Buffet in Aspen. Those were the most colorful ones, and I guessed all but one of them wrong!

It looks like the engine is working! We're leaving at 2PM today, Saturday.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Leaving for Trinidad

Friday, 7 July 2006
The Lagoon, St. Georges, Grenada

We're probably leaving for Trinidad tomorrow. I say probably because we've been having engine problems the last two days. We might have fixed it. If so, we'll go to Trinidad. If not, we'll stay here until we fix it. It is probably air getting into the fuel lines. We've spent most of the day working on it. So, to cheer you up, we've posted some pictures. The first is of a few friends at sunset. Nice, eh? By the way, that's not me with my arm around Jill--it's Paul from M/V Dreamweaver. The second is from back in Guadaloupe, when we went to the waterfalls. The second picture is by famed photographer Glenn Phillips.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Goings On

Wednesday, July 5
The Lagoon, St. George's, Grenada

I think we have a record here, for the longest time we have spent at anchor in one place so far on this trip! We are still in St. George's, and since Eira and Dreamweaver arrived late last week, joining Amanzi and Crossroads as friends we see just about every day, we have been too busy socializing to pay proper attention to the blog. We are way behind, yet we have had lots of adventures to report.

Friday night a bunch of us hopped on the local bus for a hair-raising ride in a packed-to-the-roof local bus (19 people in a mini-van) up to the town of Guoyave, one of the major fishing ports in Grenada. The town holds a fish fry every Friday night, and people come from all around to hear music and eat the locally-caught and cooked food from vendors that line the street.

We arrived in town before most stands had begun setting up, and I began to worry that we, five tourists in a tiny fishing village, would continue to stand out like fools until we hopped a bus back to St. George. But we found a local bar to while away an hour or two, and before we knew it, the owner/bartender was our new best friend, bringing us over free shots of the local rum (the strong stuff from our tour earlier in the week) and recommending which stalls we should visit for dinner.

It helps a great deal that Dean and I have befriended a number of cruisers from friendlier places than Boston. Our Canadian and southern friends have a great deal of practice talking to strangers, and they make a point of doing it wherever we go. Dean and I just enjoy the benefits without ever having to take the risk one would never take in Massachusetts--of striking up a conversation with somebody just because he or she happens to be standing nearby. It's a crazy concept, this friendliness, but it works.

By the time we left the bar and made our way back to the fish fry, things were looking a lot more festive. We sampled fish cakes and casseroles, soups, "oil down," which is a local staple, and kebabs. The food was excellent, and for the most part, it was very cheap. My favorite was the fish cake, deep fried, of course, for the equivalent of 40 cents. If you got one with hot sauce on a still-warm biscuit, the price was about $1 U.S.

On Saturday Dean and I, brace yourselves, went running (sort of), but that's a story that Dean has told in the previous blog.

Sunday was a beach day. We cannot swim off the boat in the lagoon (too murky and a bit polluted), so we dinghy around the corner to a gorgeous, white sand beach. A whole crew of cruisers went, as usual, and the water was so refreshing we all vowed to make the trip every day for a restorative swim. We haven't been back since.

Monday we did go swimming, but in a freshwater pool at the base of a waterfall in the rainforest. The one thing about hiking in the rainforest during the rainy season is that you are bound to be caught in the...rain! However, having risked our lives once again by taking a local bus to the top of the island, up steep, winding roads, we couldn't let a few downpours stop us, so we slopped along the trail, hiding under trees when the rain got serious, and continuing on when it slowed to a drizzle. The views when the clouds lifted were spectacular and lush, all farmland and canopy and steep mountain valleys. We enjoyed the hike, but by the time we reached the waterfalls there was no need to swim. We were all soaked through. The air was cool enough and humid enough that I felt like I was back in New Hampshire on a June day. Except the water in the falls was merely cool, not painfully cold.

On the way back to the street from the falls, we ran across a local we had met a week earlier at the lecture we attended. It's strange and wonderful to be in a new country long enough that we are beginning to recognize--and be recognized by--the people who live here. We will be sad to leave this place, but excited to head to Trinidad, our southernmost destination, to meet up with our next set of visitors, and, if we are all lucky, show them as good a time as we are having now.

On On!

Monday 3 July 2006
The Lagoon
St. Georges, Grenada

I blamed Glenn (S/V Crossroads) at the time. Michele (S/V Crossroads) and I were alone, jogging and running (but mostly walking) through dense forest, in the mountains of Grenada, following a path marked with piles of shredded paper. It was Glenn's idea to run the hash (see this link for an explanation of hashing). Glenn had sprinted ahead at the beginning, and Jill had been waylaid by a know-it-all sailor who was explaining to her exactly what she had been doing wrong these past eight months. Suddenly, we started to see runners coming at us. That made no sense. They all swore that they were on trail, and therefore we must be lost. It didn't seem that way to me. I explained that we had always been on trail, and had seen paper the entire way. So had they. Well, somebody must have gotten their trails crossed. But it wasn't I.

We met Jill, also running toward us, and persuaded her to turn around and cover the ground she had just run. As we jogged, I explained to Jill how I must be right, and all the other runners wrong. She resisted my arguments. However, just when it looked like we might never reach the end, there we were. And, we hadn't gone off trail... everybody else had.

Nuff said.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Saturday, July 1
The Lagoon, St. George, Grenada

I spent most of yesterday standing in the rain in the cockpit, fussing with the hose and bottles and cloth that make up our system for catching water. All told, we got 15 gallons in jerry jugs, and we think the water is clean enough for cooking and drinking. Another three or four gallons collected in buckets have been diverted for shower and laundry use.

But the big report for this week comes from Tuesday and Wednesday, two days we spent doing some sightseeing.

Tuesday we, along with Kim and David from Amanzi and Michele from Crossroads, attempted to make our way to the main bus terminal in town, stopping in at the tourist bureau to pick up maps and to say hello to a local man that Kim and David met in Antigua during race week. As Michele, Kim, and David all work in education, we were invited to join a seminar that had just started, featuring a local sociologist who was talking about the culture and traditions of Grenada. What a treat! The seminar was part of an educational series for tour guides and taxi drivers, so we were the only tourists present. The sociologist, who has lived in Grenada for most of her life, was an engaging presenter and well-versed oral historian, not afraid to stand up and demonstrate a traditional dance move or to sing a song she had learned as a child. She told such great stories about the Grenadian carnival, held in August, that we are thinking of sailing back up from Trinidad for it.

The seminar took up the rest of our morning, so we never made it to the bus for the chocolate factory. Instead, we walked around the town of St. George, a small city built up on a hill surrounding a deepwater port. The port looks very much like many European seaside towns, with narrow, steep streets, lots of commercial activity, and old stone buildings topped with beautiful red tile roofs. Though an estimated 90 percent of the houses in Grenada lost their roofs or worse as a result of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, recovery has been swift, and only occasional buildings in the town await rebuilding or demolition.

Wednesday I left Dean behind on Delilah and joined some other cruisers on a tour of Grenada. Though the group was a bit big for my liking (24 people) it gave me a chance to see quite a bit of the island in one day. The bus we took seemed improbably large for these narrow, twisting mountain roads, but our convivial bus driver handled them expertly, keeping his wheels only inches from the steep drainage ditch on one side and the stream of speeding cars beside a sheer drop to the ocean on the other. There are no highways on Grenada, no stop signs that I observed, and only a few traffic lights or rotaries. The roads are just wide enough for two cars to pass each other with inches to spare. If we throw a bus into the mix, or better still, a bus and a truck going opposite directions, one vehicle has to find a place to pull over--fast. The decisions regarding who will pull over, when to pass, when to yield, and when to slow down and hug the curb when rounding yet another blind curve are all communicated by horn.

One of my favorite stops on the tour was the Grenada Chocolate Company, which uses solar power and antique machinery to make its organic chocolate and cocoa. The chocolate bars were wrapped individually and by hand, sealed with a plain old glue stick. Some of the machines looked straight out of "Willy Wonka." Yes, I had samples. Yes, I bought chocolate. Even the very dark and bitter chocolate was delicious.

We also visited the River Antoine rum distillery. The distillery, which grows and crushes its own sugarcane, makes very small batches of very strong (138 and 150 proof) organic rum for local consumption only. The distillery has been around for about two hundred years, and its methods and machinery have not changed much since the company opened, nor have the cobwebs. The machine that crushes sugarcane is still powered by a waterwheel, and the stills are heated by wood fires. The rum itself has only two ingredients: sugarcane and water. The place was amazing, but it would be shut down in a heartbeat in the States, as sanitation procedures were nonexistent. For example, we played with a few newborn puppies in the straw right next to open vats of crushed cane juice, and the crumbling cement building where the the juice was first processed hadn't seen a fresh coat of paint ever. The stills themselves were under tin roofs but otherwise open to the air.

At the end of the tour, we could taste both the 69 percent and 75 percent alcohol rums. I tried a very small sample of the stronger one, and was very glad that I had a big cup of water in my hand to wash town the tiny sip I took. I did not buy any rum, as I would like to keep the lining of my stomach intact for the time being.

We also stopped at a nutmeg cooperative, where local farmers deliver their crops to be cleaned, sorted, dried, packed, and shipped all over the world. Again, most of the work in the coop was done by hand in a beautiful stone building that would fetch a hefty price as loft space in the Leather District these days. Grenada is the second largest supplier of nutmeg in the world, supplying one-third of the world's supply of nutmeg. But all this will likely change for the next few years, as most of the nutmeg trees were destroyed by Ivan. It will take a few more years for the new plantings to mature enough for harvesting.