Caribbean Adventures Part TWO!

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And So We Go!

And so, it has been over a month since our last update and we have made some great memories for sure.  St Croix’s St Patrick’s Day celebration was everything we had hoped for.  This island still  truly rates as one our favorites.  Crab races, beer drinking pigs, Art Walk, conch hunting, great friends and more made this one for the memory bank for sure.

beer swilling pigs

our conch hunting harvest

a feast…conch three ways…each boat prepared a yummy dish from our harvest

team St Patrick’s Day!

test tube cheers!

green beer too!

Since our return from St. Croix we have spent a pretty equal amount of time between the BVI’s and USVI’s.   It has been great to experience some of the amazing bays without the typical crowds of years past but on the other hand, devastating to see the condition of many of the islands.  When you read reports of a ten year recovery time it is easy to see how this too may be under estimated.    Some of our favorite haunts like the North Sound, Spanish Town, Soper’s Hole, Trellis and Cane Garden Bays are a long way from  recovery.  That being said we did attend the FIRST Full Moon Party since “IrmaMariagedon”.  We tried to spend some money as we wandered amongst the newly decorated “wrecks” on the beach.   Spanish Town and Soper’s Hole are really ghost ports  with little left.  Michael Bean has his “Happy Arr” show up and running in his old shack to entertain the crowds and Levrick is the closest to recovery that we have seen.  We discovered a few “new bays for us” at Deadman’s and Bluff.  We had an “over-the-moon” experience frolicking with the dolphins at Bluff bay.  Thanks to Reid for photos of our play time.  We twirled, dove and played with these two amazing dolphins for at least a half an hour.  They mimicked us and used our anchor chain for back scratching… too cool!

fun and frolic with dolphins

farewell to Ramble On!!

farewell to Caffe Latte

The Baths! Wow, the baths!

Happy ARRRRRR

a post Easter dinner sing-along with thanks to Jean and Yo (Caffe Latte)

we will miss these fine folks, Rob & Regina (and Irie) from Ramble On!

St John is still a hiking delight with all trails cleared and the bonus of no “Iron Rangers to collect the nightly $26 fee.  We believe this has been done in some regards to encourage more boats to visit the island and spend money ashore.. (which we have been happy to do).  Never a trouble to find a mooring ball in any of the bays and quiet beaches make the island very enticing.  The reefs and beaches really took a beating though with many beaches losing sand and much coral destroyed and washed ashore.  The reefs are not looking very healthy and it is hard to find good snorkeling.  We are hoping this too shall come soon.

Short and sweet and bitter sweet….

And so the crew of Cru has made the decision to shorten our two year plan to one year for a variety of reasons.  We are all ready to move forward and look ahead to new adventures and land based fun.  It has been an amazing time and we all hold many cherished memories aboard this sweet boat.  Must say, other than having two hulls to scrape, a catamaran is the ultimate living space and what a dream to sail.  We have loved our sojourn.

And as one of our favorite Grenada yogis say… “so we go”…. With a deadline of May 7 for the survey, sea trial and inspection by the new buyers (happy to say they are CANADIAN) we are looking forward to moving forward.  We are still trying to encourage them to move their closing date up….but currently June 17 before we officially bid farewell to Grand Cru and close this chapter of our grand adventure.

 

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And So We Go!

And so, it has been over a month since our last update and we have made some great memories for sure.  St Croix’s St Patrick’s Day celebration was everything we had hoped for.  This island still  truly rates as one our favorites.  Crab races, beer drinking pigs, Art Walk, conch hunting, great friends and more made this one for the memory bank for sure.

beer swilling pigs

our conch hunting harvest

a feast…conch three ways…each boat prepared a yummy dish from our harvest

team St Patrick’s Day!

test tube cheers!

green beer too!

Since our return from St. Croix we have spent a pretty equal amount of time between the BVI’s and USVI’s.   It has been great to experience some of the amazing bays without the typical crowds of years past but on the other hand, devastating to see the condition of many of the islands.  When you read reports of a ten year recovery time it is easy to see how this too may be under estimated.    Some of our favorite haunts like the North Sound, Spanish Town, Soper’s Hole, Trellis and Cane Garden Bays are a long way from  recovery.  That being said we did attend the FIRST Full Moon Party since “IrmaMariagedon”.  We tried to spend some money as we wandered amongst the newly decorated “wrecks” on the beach.   Spanish Town and Soper’s Hole are really ghost ports  with little left.  Michael Bean has his “Happy Arr” show up and running in his old shack to entertain the crowds and Levrick is the closest to recovery that we have seen.  We discovered a few “new bays for us” at Deadman’s and Bluff.  We had an “over-the-moon” experience frolicking with the dolphins at Bluff bay.  Thanks to Reid for photos of our play time.  We twirled, dove and played with these two amazing dolphins for at least a half an hour.  They mimicked us and used our anchor chain for back scratching… too cool!

fun and frolic with dolphins

farewell to Ramble On!!

farewell to Caffe Latte

The Baths! Wow, the baths!

Happy ARRRRRR

a post Easter dinner sing-along with thanks to Jean and Yo (Caffe Latte)

we will miss these fine folks, Rob & Regina (and Irie) from Ramble On!

St John is still a hiking delight with all trails cleared and the bonus of no “Iron Rangers to collect the nightly $26 fee.  We believe this has been done in some regards to encourage more boats to visit the island and spend money ashore.. (which we have been happy to do).  Never a trouble to find a mooring ball in any of the bays and quiet beaches make the island very enticing.  The reefs and beaches really took a beating though with many beaches losing sand and much coral destroyed and washed ashore.  The reefs are not looking very healthy and it is hard to find good snorkeling.  We are hoping this too shall come soon.

Short and sweet and bitter sweet….

And so the crew of Cru has made the decision to shorten our two year plan to one year for a variety of reasons.  We are all ready to move forward and look ahead to new adventures and land based fun.  It has been an amazing time and we all hold many cherished memories aboard this sweet boat.  Must say, other than having two hulls to scrape, a catamaran is the ultimate living space and what a dream to sail.  We have loved our sojourn.

And as one of our favorite Grenada yogis say… “so we go”…. With a deadline of May 7 for the survey, sea trial and inspection by the new buyers (happy to say they are CANADIAN) we are looking forward to moving forward.  We are still trying to encourage them to move their closing date up….but currently June 17 before we officially bid farewell to Grand Cru and close this chapter of our grand adventure.

 

What Does A Wind Vane Really Do?

Hmmmm…just found this in my archives…guess I never did post it… nor find photos to go with… and so this is just a history moment…… feel free to ignore and go to our latest blog… coming in a minute.

Why is it that our wind vane always points the direction we want to go?  We have come to think that we are like the “folks you don’t want to get in line behind”.  If you are making a sail plan just check with us and do the opposite!  Seems this year the winds and waves have been doing some very unusual things and “all best plans” aren’t cooperating.

That being said we did have a super time re-exploring the hiking trails of St. John.  As promised all the trails had been cleared and open and other than a little less shade in parts remain the same (only a few detours on a couple).

We had a couple of great reunions with Serenade at Maho Bay and Ramble On at Little Lameshur.  Always fun to reconnect and catch up with everyone’s adventures and plans.  After a quick stop in St Thomas to reprovision our plan was to head to Culebra (Spanish Virgin Island).  This is always (almost – see note above) a lovely downwind sail west and the latest forecast agreed.  As you guessed, not so much for us and it was sad to run the “iron job” for this hop.  Culebra is a delightful, laid back town.  Exploring EVERY road on our golf cart took us a couple of days (including the requisite beer and lunch stops).  And then the big, big, big uglies came – unprecedented huge north swells (and little wind) throughout the Caribbean – seems the Atlantic was having a temper tantrum.  Tucked away in Ensenada Honda we felt none of it – well except the day we did a day trip to the little island of Culebrita and the morning we arose at 5:30am to catch the 6:30am ferry to Fajardo, Puerto Rico where we thought we could while away a day exploring the rainforest and/or old San Juan.  Arriving to the quiet dock we quickly discovered that even the ferries weren’t running.

With yet more time to spend waiting for the weather to change we did go back 2 days later and what a ride feeling the rise and fall of this size of a ship.  Sadly the rainforest exploring was curtailed…so much damage that the roads and trails are all closed…except for the first 1 mile to the little Coco Falls.  It was tragic to see the devastation of the tree canopy.  There is nothing left at the top.  Of course succession will take its course and there is already lots of lush new growth at the lower levels.  Talking with locals the endangered parrots (that were being monitored) have not been “located” yet and there is talk that El Yunque could possibly lose its rainforest designation now for years.   With time on our hands (seems to be a theme here) we were able to make it to explore historic Old San Juan.  With its amazing history and forts we had lots to see – well except the entire promenade (seawall walk) was closed as the 25ft waves from the weekend had crumbled the wall in places and thrown rocks and debris everywhere.

Our initial sail plans were to depart Culebra for Vieques and then on to St. Croix.  When a brief window opened we felt we had to take it as we were beginning to run out of things to do in Culebra… and so we “motored” the shortest distance back to St. Thomas.

We got our “wings” back and were able to sail to St. Croix from there – not overly comfortably though as the seas and swell were still rather large!  On On St. Croix – we are looking forward to the ‘next island’ adventures, including a reunion with Jean and Yo (Caffe Latte) AND the big St. Patrick’s Day celebration next week.

Fun Flies When You Are Having Time

 

We are currently floating in the lovely Christmas Cove, USVI.   We have been experiencing unusual weather patterns (from our past experiences in the Virgin Islands)  We (well okay, I) have had to pull out a lightweight blankie to keep warm in the evenings; bought a light weight hoodie the other day; and we spend an inordinate amount of time opening and closing hatches but alas the vistas are still gorgeous, the beaches spectacular and adventures endless.  (And with our new camera we are happy to share a few photo moments with you now again.)

 We spent most of January in Antigua rediscovering its charm, finding new adventures and hikes, as well as dealing with a number of boat gremlins that had come aboard.  Reid and Kath had a fast and furious trip home and returned ready to set sail for our next port.  SO with a happy generator and water maker we were to go….somewhere…..After much discussion we decided to head west.  Heading south again for abit in order to take part in the Dominca Cruisers’ Week was tempting but moving on won the day with plans to catch up on Dominica on our return south.

Great Bird Island

 St. Bart’s and St. Martin were quick stopping points before a short weather window allowed us to head to the Virgin Islands.  And as we got closer to the damage wreaked by Maria’s path we were again gob smacked at the power of wind.  so hard to imagine.  Every time we would get “gusties” aboard it would make me shudder to think of the REAL gusties that were experienced by so many islanders.  And as we wandered about the islands the razed hillsides, topless trees, damaged homes and many boats in places they didn’t belong, we were very thankful we were hunkered in Grenada during the blows.

 

damage to the beautiful to Anse FLamade

tortoises….

love those IWW bikes… off to explore St Martin’s shopping

 The islands are working through repairs and getting things back up and running.  It was great to see 4 cruise ships in Charlotte Amalie (St Thomas) providing the return of some much needed tourism dollars.   A trip to the world famous Magens Beach was heartening as close to 500 trees were planted and an equal number pruned and saved, new shelters and facilities built so that it too was happy receive appreciative tourists.  We are excited to hear that most of the trails in the National Park in St John’s are ready for us and so we will continue to explore and enjoy the Virgin Islands. Our plans hope to include a stop in St.Croix and the Spanish Virgin Islands of Culebra and Vieques as well.

love that matching style

Honey Moon Beach on Valentine’s Day

the famous Banana Daiquiris at Mountain Top

the view from Mountain Top

homes lost

and many floating homes lost too

 

at the bar at Dinghies!!

the ferry to Water Island

one Salty Dog

wandering about in Charlotte Amalie

gorgeous Magens Beach

 So for now we are looking forward to calmer winds and warmer weather – tee hee… but again, not complaining.

Islands, Reunions and Christmas Blessings

SO even though October and the season of thanks has long past, we reflect and are grateful each day for our many blessings.  Grand Cru and her crew continue to have such fun and adventures.  We have explored new islands, had many hiking adventures, a super fantastic reunion with dear friends, Dave & Alex, experienced random acts of kindness that replaced our battered Canadian flag, (thx Silverheels!) and spent many hours of fun and sharing with friends new and old.

Some highlights include:

Thanks to Reid for his photos and camera sharing as our camera broke down in Tobago and we will be cameraless for awhile. 

  • After a boisterous start we had a beautiful sail, and our flotilla of three arrived in Bequia where we spent 10 days exploring, hiking and hanging out. The quaint charm of Bequia lives on for us.

  • We bid farewell to Alexian and arrived in St Lucia in time for provisioning and the Atlantic arrival of Dave and Alex aboard s/v Zao. What a great reunion … we were all confused as to the when and where of the last time we met (but finally determined it was just over a year ago in St Augustine).  Such fun to have them aboard for some serious catch up time and wizard, lots and lots of wizard!

Woo hoo! A great celebration upon arrival

what’s a celebration without champagne?

  • We had a lovely sail to St Anne, Martinique and then a spinnaker lesson around to Petite Anse de Arlet before we dropped them off in Fort de France.

farewell….until next time….somewhere, somewhere!

  • Island touring with Jean and Yo (s/v Caffe Latte) was fantastic… and of course, included the ultimate feat for us of finally hiking Mount Pele! This was truly memorable.

  • And then the beaches of St.Anne…. white, powdery sand and turquoise waters to delight. It is just a little hard to get our heads around Christmas being in 4 days…but I did just see Santa on stage at the waterfront!

Plans next include a quick trip for New Year’s celebrations in the Saintes.  We will then make our way to Antigua in time for Reid and Kath’s mid-January flights home for a visit.

TOBAGO – A Feast for the Senses

An overnight sail saw us arriving with the sunrise!

We really loved this island… with the:

  • SIGHTS of lush rainforest, secluded bays, beautiful beaches, scary, winding roads and dark, dark nights

an adventure!

chilling at Argyll falls

do you see the birdie?

London Bridge

 

  • SOUNDS of mysterious, elusive parrots, the `clicking`of feeding fish at sunrise and sunset, the banter of local fishermen seine netting beside us, bubbles, just bubbles and the crunching of parrot fish on the coral

Diving off Little Tobago with Yo and Jean… (thanks for the photo)

some lovely fishes! (thx again for the photo)

  • TASTES of delicious pastries, creole food, papaya gathered on a hike and nibblies shared with friends at happy hour

yummy creole dinner

  • SMELLS of everything`earthy green`- so different than anywhere

now that is a rainforest

Dave’s “Dead Tree Scrolls”

Leaf cutter ant highway

Say What????

  • FEELINGS of accomplishment as we sweat and climb through the forest to reach a number of gorgeous lookouts; of safety and welcome from the locals we meet, (An island where the immigration officer gives you his cell number to call when you want to check out)

On Up!

Atop Flagstaff Lookout

down to Pirate’s Bay

Truly a great place to hang out and an awesome way to start our first cruising season aboard Grand Cru …

dolphin escorts

Tobago… we will return!

 

Moving On, Halloween and Other Scary Things

**Update***  November 4 and here we are in Grenada (still)…And so, we wait.  Not away as planned but hopefully soon come!  Final panel install now Sunday….so we will check out and do last minute errands Monday and depart Tuesday (fingers crossed).   All is good as the winds look a little better waiting the extra day and the other bonus will be to be able to hook up with friends tomorrow for a farewell grill ..

Cannot believe today is October 31!!!  Just where the time has gone I am unsure.  It has been a very busy 6 weeks since our last update.  Lots of Halloween fun was had by all…. Secret Harbor party – not quite a “cruiser event” … sure miss those bashes!

A Grenadian Bus is an experience like no other…so we decided to be one -driver, conductor, cruiser and local passenger squeezed in between many

great friends… “Super Yo” and “Jean” (s/v Caffe Latte)

Of course no sailor’s discussion is anything without talk of the weather…many of our chores have had to be completed dodging showers!  And deluges! And squalls and full on days of rain.  It has certainly been a very wet and unusual rainy season in Grenada this year.   Despite the weather we have been able to check off almost everything on our TO DO list.  As often happens, the majority accomplished in the last week as we make mad preparations to head out of Camp Grenada.

“singing in the rain”

One of our major boat projects (and dollars) has included installing solar.  This is almost completed as we just await the final mounting.  We have already seen great rewards to our batteries.  Our new dinghy is finally out of its “break in” phase and can go like stink.  And of course, the best addition to GC was last week’s installment of our onboard washing machine.  Now, THIS is a luxury and in the long run saves money and lots and lots of headaches.

aaahhhhh!

The reference in the title to the other “scary stuff” entails the boys truly horrible, nasty and smelly job yesterday.  As our cruising friends and those who have visited and lived with us know, boat life isn’t just “margaritas, beaches and sun tans” there are always endless boat chores that include cleaning, maintaining, scrubbing servicing, and repairing of just about anything.  On the top of the “ugly” list is dealing with the heads (toilets that is) and yes, yesterday was one ugly chore as we dealt with the leaking and plugged holding tank.  No more needs to be said other than at the end a lot of disinfectant was required for the tools and people involved.

come on boys, what’s the problem? and I have the stern! (another project involved new blocks for the davits to equal the situation)

In between the boat work we were consumed by the amazing 1000th Hash Week. This kept us busy every single day of the week… so well organized and executed, this Kennel (Hash Club) is truly fantastic.  We will miss our mud-packed Saturday afternoons.

 

 

Kathy, Reid and Dave aboard the “Rum Runner”

Receiving our special “perseverance prize” at the hash closing ceremony

Pick a trail, any trail…..

didn’t matter… they were ALL VERY muddy

don’t you love the name of this little rum shop? you will have to take our word that the road lives up to its name

a bus trip to the far north end… Sauteres

Yoga and volleyball sessions have also been such great fun and these too will be missed but I am sure we can fill the time with hiking, snorkeling and new island explorations.  It will be great to be “on the move” again.

Helping to load the Flying Buzzard with relief supplies for Dominca took up several days

 

A Canadian thanksgiving potluck at Hog Island

Complete with Canadian “Caesars”! Thanks Wendy for supplying the ingredients!

Our new ride… quite sweet!!!

So move it is… and soon.  Today we get some provisioning done, tomorrow we scrape barnacles and growth off the bottom and we hope to have a short test sail by Friday to make sure everything is in order after our careful servicing and idle months.

our very own coral reef (with lots and lots of barnacles)

We are really excited to be heading to some “new waters” for us … Tobago!  This island has been on our list for sure and reports are of a beautiful, remote and laid back island with superb beaches and diving.  Add to this mix the fun that we will have as we explore with some great new, crazy French Canadian friends and good friend Dave too!   From there the plan is to sail to Barbados (another new one for us) and then on to St. Lucia at the end of November where we hope to be able to meet Dave and Alex’s arrival as they complete a passage as crew from the Canary Islands.

the lovely St George… see ya next year!

And so are anticipating an exciting cruising season.  We are looking forward to exploring new waters as well as revisiting some old favorites.  Mixed in of course, will be the heart wrenching visits to islands recovering from Irma and Maria’s devastation.  We will be monitoring safety and security of these islands and making those decisions as we travel but hoping to spend some time in Dominica for sure lending any assistance that we can.  And then….we have no agenda… wherever the wind blows us (in a nice manner that is)….

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