S/V Delilah

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

Monday, October 30, 2006

Year in Review

Monday, October 30
Hog Island, Grenada

At 9PM on October 30, 2005 we cast off our lines from Waterboat Marina in Boston, waved goodbye to a few friends...and realized we'd forgotten to put our lifejackets on! But the wind was from the west, and we enjoyed exiting the harbor under genoa alone on our first night out.

The next few days of sailing were perhaps the most difficult so far, exposing us to strong headwinds and confused, choppy seas day after day. We were exhausted, bruised, frostbitten, and demoralized. Strong SW winds and ten-foot seas caused us to scrap our planned offshore journey to Norfolk, but we did enjoy sailing through Long Island Sound, past Manhattan, and back out into the Atlantic with the Statue of Liberty pointing the way. A week in Norfolk with Tina, Ian, and Malcolm recharged us for our further adventures south. We alternated motoring down the Intracoastal Waterway with a few overnight trips along the coast and arrived in Miami for Christmas.

Our Gulf Stream crossing held no surprises, and we sailed Delilah into a foreign country for the first time just before the new year. During two months in the Bahamas, we met friends with whom we are still cruising, we caught many fish, snorkeled daily, and hosted our first visitor, Greg.

Our forty-hour motorsail in light winds to the Dominican Republic went smoothly, and suddenly everything was in Spanish. The water heated up, the land got lush and tall and green, and we had made it past Chicken Harbor, where some cruisers spend winter after winter trying to get up the nerve to continue south.

After a few weeks, we pushed across the much-talked-about Mona Passage to Puerto Rico, then onwards to the USVIs and then the BVIs, where Bridget and Devin stopped in. Another night passage brought us to St. Martin's for the first of the French islands. Then we hopped on down the island chain (Martinique, Guadaloupe, Grenada, etc.) until we were in Trinidad for hurricane season and a visit from Joe, Sharon, Roger, and Lisa.

Trinidad was hot, humid, dirty (in our harbor anyway), and noisy. We got a lot of projects done on the boat, discovered the wonders of SOCA rhythm, pan music, liming, doubles, and Mexican Train dominoes. We swam in a pool instead of the ocean, listened to the howler monkeys and parrots across the road, and sweated off the pounds in our bunny suits while painting two new coats of antifouling on Delilah's hull.

Now we're in Grenada, having enjoyed our visit with Tina, Ian, and Malcolm, followed by a month in a quiet anchorage. In a few days we will pull up the anchor, dust off the sails, and head for the Grenadines. We are on our way back home. Surely every day is sweeter because the end is in sight--the end of our first cruise. We've been together just about 24 hours a day, every day, for an entire year. I couldn't be happier.

October Ends

Sunday, October 29

Hog Island, Grenada

The past week at Hog Island has been particularly social, as we enjoyed the company of Crossroads and Dragonfly, as well as Amanzi (who had threatened to head around the corner for a few days, but thought better of it).

Friday we went back to the town of Gouyave, about an hour away, for their weekly street festival in celebration of fish. This was our third visit, so we are practically regulars at the corner bar, and we know what to avoid (the fish casseroles--lots of starch and very bland) and what to go for (the fish bakes--little fish cakes in delicious, hot bread for only $2 EC per bake). The music was fun, and the food was as delicious as always, but as we are cruisers with early bedtimes, we were ready to leave just as the locals were beginning to show up in force.

Saturday we donned our running shoes for yet another hash (group walk/run that ends at a rum shop) through the underbrush of Grenada. We've had quite a bit of rain lately, so I was pleasantly surprised that the trail was not extremely muddy. This week's rabbit (the person who laid the trail) had a cruel sense of humor, however, so there were a number of false trails that went on longer than usual, and the last quarter mile of the trail was underwater. Dean, not wanting to get his tootsies wet, built a bridge over one particularly deep section, and found alternate paths around the others. I merely slogged through and got wet to the knees. Aside from the exercise, which I need, the thing I enjoy most about hashes is the chance they give us to see parts of the countryside that we would never go to on our own. Grenada is a beautiful, lush island with interesting terrain and heartstopping ocean views from its many mountain peaks. Being on a boat in a harbor means we only see a fraction of the islands we visit. The hash gives us a chance to go where even some of the locals have never been.

Today we all convened on Crossroads for Kim's by-now famous curry dishes and a whole bunch of sangria made from some boxed wine Dean and I have been carrying around since Miami. Not even fruit, brandy, and juice could disguise that the wine had gone a little off, but Una did her best with what I gave her.

The evening devolved into a game of Mexican Train, and I enjoyed a killer winning streak that left the rest of my competitors in the dust. They say dominoes tournaments will soon be shown on ESPN. I'm ready for my television debut.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday (25 October) was Thanksgiving in Grenada, celebrating Operation Urgent Fury (see this for details. The local shack, Roger's, had a band playing all kinds of good tunes, such as "Green, Green Grass of Home", "Red, Red Wine", and others, all with a reggae feel.

S/V Dragonfly and S/V Crossroads had just arrived from Trinidad and joined in the fun.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hog Heaven

October 21

Hog Island, Grenada

Writer's Note: Dean informed me, after reading this blog, that part of it is nearly identical to one he wrote last week. Since I slept through that experience, I thought it was really interesting that I would have one so similar myself. For that reason, and in spite of the fact that you might wonder if you've already read this blog, I'm posting my version.

We have put on hold our plans to take the bus to town for groceries today, as the wind is howling and the rain is coming down in buckets. Now I just hope it comes down INTO the buckets I've strewn about on deck. Any extra water that we get for free and without lugging jerry jugs in the dinghy makes it that much easier to do such extravagant chores as shower, wash dishes and clothing, flush the toilet with fresh water (salt water makes things stink), and rinse off the boat. But it's all worth the extra work for the solitude we have here in this anchorage.

The heavy rain also means there will be no brush fires on Hog Island today. The island is being stripped of vegetation before our very eyes, in preparation for the development of a Four Seasons resort. It is common practice all over the Caribbean to burn brush, and we have seen or smelled the small, controlled fires everywhere we've gone. Strangely enough, the burning wood and brush smell to me like a peat fire, so I find it comforting--except when the fire is close by and directly upwind, choking us and dropping ash on the boat, as it has been for the past two days.

It had rained heavily yesterday too, but we had been ashore at Whisper Cove Marina (the "marina" part is a major overstatement), helping the new managers, who were trying to get their Internet service running again. No luck, but we did watch from the office balcony on the hill as a dark wall of towering rainclouds swept toward us, drenching everything in sight. It was beautiful, and since we haven't had rain in almost two weeks, it was welcome too.

The rain ended by midafternoon yesterday, so we were able to return to Whisper Cove for dinner and to be serenaded by our neighbor, who plays classical guitar. I always enjoy taking the dinghy out at night here, as the water is extremely phosphorescent (see my blog from New Jersey or Vieques for an explanation). If you run your hand through the water at night here in the anchorage, you not only see bright pinpoints of light, but all the water that's been disturbed glows for a second. Something as big as a motorized dinghy, therefore, leaves a bright wake like a comet's tail.

The sky had cleared by about one AM, and since I had been startled awake by a brief nightmare, I went outside to relax, cool off, and look around. There was no moon, so the stars were bright and numerous, and where the wind was blowing the water in our normally-calm anchorage into wavelets, the phytoplankton were lighting up in small bursts on the surface, echoing the stars above us. To the south, an enormous and silent lightning storm was taking place on the horizon, illuminating the cloudbank that held it every second or two. I looked away for a moment, back up at the stars overhead, just in time to watch a meteor streak through the sky, leaving a long trail behind it. What a show!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


It is 4AM. I, having been startled awake by a nightmare, took a turn above-decks to clear my head. A brilliant blanket of stars awaited me, of course, but I was also tantalized by the hypnotic shusssshing of the wind generator, turning over in the pleasant breeze. Small waves gently nudged Delilah, creating an underlying murmur. Anchor lights competed with the stars overhead. In the southern distance, perhaps 40 miles away, an enormous lightning storm provided me a personal, silent lightshow. I was, as I was suddenly aware, enthralled by the sublime. This has been happening more and more to me, and I reckon that it is possibly the best side effect of our nearly year-long sailing adventure.

Recently, we went with Kim and David from Amanzi and Ian from Nancy Dawson to snorkel on the eastern side of Calvigny Island (a privately-owned island being turned, slowly, into a personal resort for a "French billionaire," we are told). At first I was not impressed by the reef, having seen much clearer water elsewhere, and much more vibrant reefs. However, when I slowed my pace and hovered two feet above the bottom, I was taken in by a small red fish, swimming in tiny erratic circles. I couldn't for the life of me imagine what would provoke such behavior. The fish certainly wasn't eating and didn't appear to be guarding young, etc. Minutes later, I finned across another fish, only thumb-sized, of the darkest black, with minute, preposterously brilliant blue dots. I watched for perhaps 5 minutes. Further on, just the claw of a small crab was visible, poking from a hole. The crab was delicately pulling seaweed from around the hole. His actions appeared so human-like I found myself with a huge smile on my face, as I was pushed about, as e. e. cummings would have it, by the "bulge and nuzzle of the sea."

My sincere hope is to remember how to embrace such smallness in the midst of city life. Where is the beauty when stuck in traffic on I-93? It's there, certainly, awaiting me.

Dean at play

Malcolm at work

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pocketmail Woes

Well, we forgot to renew our pocketmail subscription, so you might have gotten some bounced mail. We're OK now, though, so keep sendin' those emails.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Malcolm plays chess

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Still Hog Island

October 11
Hog Island, Grenada

Dean and I feel like our time in Grenada has just begun. So many friends we met this summer in Trinidad are still at Coral Cove Marina, getting just a few more things done before they head north. And we are just now getting into the swing (get it?) of being at anchor again. But our friends on Amanzi, Eira, and La Galipote, who stayed here for the season, are beginning to get the itch to move along. They are used to Hog Island's quiet afternoons, the little, hand-built tikki bar on shore, the carefree potlucks, long walks to the maxi taxi, friendly locals, and endless opportunies to swim and read a book, enjoying the breeze from the shade of the cockpit bimini.

Eira left this morning for Carriacou (a small island just to the north), and La Galipote has moved up to the lagoon in St. George for a few days before they go to Carriacou as well. We had been planning to take a picture of the whole crew, as our four boats met up in the Bahamas and have sailed much of the trip south together. I thought we had all the time in the world to take that picture, but now I realize we'll have to rush up to Carriacou next week perhaps if we want to see all four boats together again.

It was a little bit sad last night, having drinks at Roger's Bar and talking about where we'll meet next and what our plans are now that hurricane season is winding down. The family aboard Eira has taken a vote, and they have decided to spend another year cruising. Amanzi is toying with the same idea, and La Galipote is ready to head back to Quebec in time for next summer's rafting season.

I am extremely envious of Eira. One more year out would give us so many options for this winter. We could spend some time in the western Caribbean, perhaps, or finally make it to Tobago or the Orinoco River delta for a visit. We could stay as long as we like wherever we like this season, and not worry about next June...

Our cruising kitty could be stretched a little, but it can't be doubled. And though I always fall prey to curiosity, wondering what it's like at the NEXT place, and what if we just go a little further afield, Dean feels very happy with how far we have traveled, and is looking forward to returning home to Boston next summer.

We always had Trinidad in mind as our final destination, but once we got there, we started making friends who were continuing west, along Venezuela, through the ABCs, up to the San Blas islands and Panama...and then to the beautiful, remote, unspoiled, inexpensive islands of the Pacific. It all started to sound so good, so promising, like the Caribbean had sounded last year. What if the wavy palm trees are BETTER over there? What if the people there have more FUN than we are having? What if the meaning of life rests just over the horizon? I had no idea that that's what I was looking for in the first place--but what if? How will we ever know, unless we see it for ourselves from the deck of Delilah?

I am outvoted. We are coming up on the one-year mark for our trip. Every day we spend here tips the balance further; we've been out for more months than we have left on our trip Calendar, and we have spent more money than we have left in the bank. So Delilah goes north again, right up the island chain, moving more slowly, and sailing more often (we hope) than on the way down, but that's that. Onward and upward. And then we plan the next adventure.

Hog Island

Monday, October 9
Hog Island, Grenada

Though Tina and Ian flew all that way (withstanding a 5-hour layover in Barbados with a busy 1-year-old) to visit us, the unintended result felt like a vacation for us from boating life. Hot showers, endless running water, a choice of swimming pools, space to stretch out, air conditioning, and even a private plunge pool were an unintended bonus of having friends come down to see us.

Dean and I sank into our usual post-visit funk after saying goodbye to Tina, Ian, and Malcolm, and we considered staying in True Blue Bay for a day or two before heading back the boaters' bustle at Hog Island. Two hours of rolling around at anchor changed our minds, so we motored back to Hog, glad that it was only two miles away, as the higher-than-usual winds had kicked up an uncomfortable chop that made Delilah buck her way eastward, burying the bow a few times and slowing our speed to 2 knots.

Once we were anchored, Roxanne of La Galipote stopped by to see if we were coming to the beach for the afternoon. "Of course," I answered. Then Val and Menno of Eira stopped by to see if we were planning to go on the moonlight hash (see the June post for an explanation of what a hash is) that night. After a week of cooking with Tina, I needed the exercise, so I answered "of course" again. So much for a little solitude.

Dean learned his lesson in the first hash, so he stayed on the boat while I joined about a hundred other fools--er, walkers and runners who were game to follow the paper trail in the dark, aided by a full moon. This hash started at a hilltop fort, and the steep trail we followed straight down for endless minutes was so narrow slick with mud that I began to be glad that I know how to ski. Thick brush and trees lined the path, but every fifth handhold turned out to have thorns. At one point we realized, too late, that we had disturbed a nest of fire ants. But the worst part was knowing that for every foot we descended, we'd have to climb back.

Nighttime meant that the hash was a little cooler than normal, but that last mile uphill just about undid everybody. I am never able to pace myself on uphill climbs, especially when the finish line looms. My legs are of the opinion that the faster I go, the faster the pain will end. So I chugged at double-speed to the the final, flat stretch, and thought I might just slow down and catch my breath for a minute when I heard an unwelcome voice: "Where did you come from?" I had caught up to the annoying, know-it-all guy that Dean and Michele had stranded me with on our previous hash (they recognized immediately what a pain he was and took off at a run, while I stayed behind and listened to his unsolicited advice on sailing and life in general until the moment came when I could make my break). Panting, sweating, and feeling just a little woozy, I had to double my pace again to escape this guy, but not before he got in a few more judgments and proclamations, aimed at my hastily retreating figure. "You mean to tell me you walked this whole trail in THOSE sandals?! WHO did you walk with? Hey, wait up!" Ugh. Fortunately, there were beer, water, and barbecued chicken waiting at the fort, and my early finish meant I didn't need to stand in line to be served.

Yesterday was also adventuresome. Grenada has been hosting a series of cricket tournaments this week, and Dean and I, along with a group of cruisers, bought tickets to a "classic" match between England and the West Indies (like an old-timers game in baseball, featuring retired former greats from various teams). The game was held on the other side of the island, so we hired a bus to take us all there, and we learned what we could from the non-North American cruisers regarding the game of cricket along the scenic (read stomach-churning) ride there. Dean, being Dean, already knows a little something about cricket, though he has never played.

We got to the field early enough to claim ourselves plastic lawn chairs and a spot under one of the tents, and then we settled in to watch this very long game. After a few hours, however, I found the people watching far more entertaining than the tiny bit of playing field I could see past the large, red hat of the woman in front of me.

Today's excitement includes my preparing for a free scuba refresher course, courtesy of the local dive shop, while Dean spends the morning half-submerged in some really questionable bilge water. He woke me up this morning with the words, "Well, Jill, the good news is that the SECONDARY bilge pump works." He is now replacing our primary bilge pump, which failed some time in the past two weeks, with a new one. We think Trinidad's filthy water was just too much for it, clogging the pump and burning out the motor. Fortunately, our backup bilge pump kept things dry until we were back on the boat long enough to notice that something wasn't quite the same down there by the keel.

Thanks to a combination of preparedness and good luck, no harm was done. Our backup pump, which we did test and maintain on a semi-regular basis, did its job, and our smaller, spare pump, which has rolled around the boat for years waiting to be used, is filling in for the old primary pump until we can buy a new one.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tina, Ian, and Malcolm Guest Blog #1

According to Jill, we are overdue for our first guest blog. That might be because we left the task to Malcolm (age 1) and he only came up with the following: "Da, da, da, da, DA! Doey, doey doey! Ah, Da! DA!! Mmmmmm MaMaMaMa, doey, doey, doey!" Malcolm repeated this enthusiastically during our drive around the island yesterday (much to the distress of Dean who was seated next to him in the cramped back seat of the Toyota Rava we'd rented). For some reason Dean seemed in better spirits after the tour of the Westerhall Rum Distillery. I am not sure if it had anything to do with the large portions of rum (including the notorious Jack Iron of Carriacou (70% alcohol, 140 proof) bottled there) poured by our enthusiastic guide as he shrugged off Ian's protests of having to drive after the tour. As Jill said, "Now that's a guy who loves his job!" Nonetheless, Ian did admirably driving on the left side of the narrow, winding, hilly roads. By the end of the day he was even picking up some of the Grenadian driving habits (e.g., using his horn to say, "I'm passing you", "Go ahead", "Me first", "Good afternoon" and "I have a horn"). Maybe the rum tour actually helped his driving...

On Sunday, we took Delilah out for a short sail and joined the weekly cookout with locals and cruisers at Rogers bamboo-hut (literally) beach-side bar on (uninhabited, other than Roger) Hog Island. It was a perfect location and as we stood knee-deep in the water drinking Carib beer and Ting (grapefruit-flavored soda), chatting with Jill and Dean's cruiser friends as the kids played around us waiting for more empty bottles to use as beach toys (who needs Toys"R"us?), I must confess I did turn and whisper to Ian, "Ok, I could do this for a year..."

Malcolm, Ian and I (Tina) have been having an amazing time down here with Jill, Dean, Delilah and Digby. We have been staying at True Blue Bay Resort with Delilah anchored in the beautiful turquoise water right out front. If anyone is considering going to medical school, I HIGHLY recommend looking into St. George's University. The campus is located directly across the bay from the resort. I am certain there is not a medical school (or perhaps ANY school) out there with a more beautiful campus. We are pretty sure we saw a medical student studying (with his bikini-clad girlfriend and adorable yellow lab puppy) on the gorgeous beach where we went snorkeling yesterday (not a bad life for a guy who couldn't get into a U.S. medical school...). The water was absolutely crystal clear and we saw many interesting fish, some new coral and (we think) a sea snake. After the afternoon of swimming, snorkeling, collecting sea glass, eating sand (Malcolm) and napping (Dean), we enjoyed drinks and an appetizer of callaloo (a spinach-like vegetable... without the e. coli!) canneloni on the deck of the beach-side restaurant. As our afternoon ended, we watched a storm cloud in the distance over the water and then the largest rainbow I have ever seen appeared... It was an amazing day.

Our stay here has been made that much better thanks to Dean who spotted a mouse in our original room (during a late night dominoes game - we are hooked thanks to Jill and Dean!) on our second night here. A mere mention of the mouse-spotting to the front desk led to an immediate offer of a room change. Since our original room had the set-up of a small one bedroom apartment (with A/C only in the bedroom, much to my distress) to accommodate Malcolm's twice daily naps and 6:30pm bedtime, we were upgraded (and I mean UP!!!!!-graded) to one of the "Villa" rooms. This is not really a room, but a 2-story, 2-bedroom, 2-bath, air-conditioned house. The "room" has a gourmet kitchen, jacuzzi tub, absolutely breathtaking views of the bay from the second floor balcony and a pool IN the room. Really, there is a pool INSIDE our hotel room! Dean refers to it as "The Palace" and, I have to admit, finding a mouse in your hotel room is really kind of a wonderful thing...