Martinique- the Island of NO wifi

After a quiet night at anchor in Rodney Bay, we set sail for Martinique, 23 nm northward, the last of the Windward Islands. We put a double reef in the mainsail before we entered into the swell directly coming across the open Atlantic ocean into St Lucia Passage. With 20-25 knot of wind and 9-11 foot seas, we did well averaging 7- 8 knots over ground.

Passaging
Passaging

We were greeted by Darren’s first seaward approach from dolphins halfway across the channel. Bucket list # 43 ☺

Sailing along merrily, Darren went below to check on the hatches ( with water coming over the bow, we wanted to ensure they were all closed properly. Salt water takes a long time to dry….. when just at that moment, ZIIIIINGGGGG on the PortSide fishing Rod!!! We quickly headed up into the wind to take off the speed and pressure, and Colin reeled in our FIRST catch! And what a catch it was, a 3 foot long Wahoo!!! And what do you say when you catch a Wahoo? Ask my kids, Kris and Kyle and they will tell you- WAHOO!!!!! They are a fast fish with a big mouth, firm white meat, perfect for ceviche and pan frying! At last our drought has broken!

Wahoo!!!!
Wahoo!!!!

We continued on to Le Marin where we took up anchorage in 3 meters of water outside the marina. There are soooooooooo many boats here. W enjoyed our dinner of fresh Wahoo, garlic bread and plantains

Wahoo dinner number 1
Wahoo dinner number 1

Martinique is name the Isle of Flower, and is centrally located in the heart of the arc formed by the Antilles, at 14 degrees North. The rugged landscape is a mix of volcanic mountains, verdant hills with white an black sand beaches. Club Med is right outside our doorstep in the anchorage. Martinique was populated over 2000 years ago with a rich history of war and culture extermination, including that of Christopher Columbus, Napoléon Bonaparte, and Victor Schoelcher, and including the Battle of Trafalgar. The history is rich and diverse on this island of 400,000 black, mullatos, white, creole, French and barely English speaking population.

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We finished the business we needed to do in Le Marin and moved over to the anchorage at Ste Anne. It was more peaceful, being out of the hub of the city, and still soooooo many boats. The Water was clearer and warm. We went into town in the morning and picked up a warm croissant for breakfast. We could get used to this. We found some wifi, and did a bit of ‘internetting”

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We departed Ste Anne and headed to Fort de France, the capital of Martinique. We had a beautiful sail with the parasailer up hitting 9.3 knots over ground. A Parasailer is a unique sail that we don’t use much of in the Pacific Northwest. It has a “gap” thru the middle of it, about 1/3 way down from the head of the sail, which gives the boat some lift and speed. On the way, Colin found that the Generator would not stay running, ass we tried to turn it on to make water in the clean ocean underway. So as Darren and I sailed the boat, Colin climbed in the generator compartment and found that the impeller was in bits. Good thing he had a new one on board this time!!! All is well again.

ParaSail
ParaSail

We anchored close in to the resort at Anse de Mitan. Darren and I went into town and checkout out the local sights in this little resort town. We found a Beer and wif, as this seems to be our main need in Martinique. The beer brought us to cheers our very good friends back home.

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In the morning, we all went into the other side of Mitan, to find some wifi and have a croissant for breakfast, the ONLY place we found open was a hotel. It was an expensive croissant and café, and NO WIFI, even though the staff said there was… as we sat down. Its frustrating.

most expensive wifi ever
most expensive wifi ever

So we pulled up anchor and popped up the Parasail again, and sailed our way northward to the town of St Pierre. NOW this is a cool little town. It has since been rebuilt, and is very European.

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St Pierre was the “Paris of the Caribbean” was the commercial social and cultural center of Martinique before Mt Pelle exploded in May 1902. The wealth of the island lay in the plantations, the richest of which surrounded this bustling commercial center. Ships would take on Rum, sugar, coffee and cocoa, There were enough bars, brothels and dancing girls to satisfy the sailors, of which were many in the harbor. The eruption was not a complete surprise, as the Volcano had given some early warning signs, but early roads, inefficient ferries made it difficult to evacuate the town. When the side of the volcano glowed red and burst open, it released a giant fireball of superheated gas, rock, rubble and ash with more force than an atomic bomb. Two people of the 29,000 survived. One a cobbler, and one, a prison inmate who was locked in a stone cell. The prisoner went on to work for Barnum and Bailey Circus as “the burned man” Many of the ruins still remain
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The town has since been rebuilt, is a quaint European type feel, and very French speaking. My Spanish didn’t work here at all ☺ The baguettes were plentiful, croissants delightful and people were friendly.
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Again the Port Captain was efficiently on time at ten minutes to 11 in the morning, instead of the scheduled 9:30. Colin checks us out of the country and we made our departure for Dominica.
Discussions on “the Pocket” of the mainsail.
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St Lucia

After an unrestful sleep in Walilabou, for fear of thievery all night, we were up early to get our Zarpe to leave for St Lucia. After finding out that the Port Captain is not in the office until 1700-1800 daily, we left, and headed to the bay of Chateaubelair to visit the efficient Port Captain there. We had a nice 3 nm motor up the coast, and popped our anchor down off the wharf so Colin could head in for 9 am to the Capitan’s office.

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He got there and found that the Port Captain was to be out of the office until 10:30,… which ended up Caribbean time. At this point we are getting used to the laid back timeframes. If it were not 9 am, we would have had a beer. Lol At promptly 11:25 the Port Captain returned to his office with a wave to the nearby boats waiting on his return so they too could check out, or in. He indeed had apologies to all, which was nice.

Off we headed to St Lucia.

With a reef in the main we headed northward to the largest of the English speaking Windward Islands. Upon approach, we can see that St Lucia is lush and mountainous, with the Pitons reaching far up to skyward. We aimed our anchorage for this exact spot for the night, dropping our hook at exactly our
ETA ( or DR for the sailors in us)

It was a fine anchorage, costing us $20 USD to ANCHOR, as they claimed it was part of the Park system. As we lifted the anchor in the morning, we had an old fish trap hooked on quite well. Too bad there was no fish in it. We cut it off underway to the small village of Soufriere.

Soufriere was the set of the move WATER, with Michael Caine and has many charming old Creole buildings with balconies and gingerbread. It’s a quaint little town that I could spend many a night in. We did some vegetable shopping as Colin checked us in and out of the country in one go, so we would have three days to leave.

Soufriere

Our destination for the day was the completely sheltered, mangrove lines bay of Marigot Bay, famous to yachtsmen as a hurricane hole. It affords the perfect anchorage for the picturesque sunset photos and rum punch, which of both, we enjoyed.

Marigot Bay

Legend has it that once a British admiral his fleet by tying palm trees branches to his masts to disguise them and the opening to Marigot Bay. The bay now is a thriving attraction and native community, with a quaint laid back feel.
We enjoyed sunset Rum Punches at Doolittles bar while we watched the “local bus” take the locals across the bay.

Marigot Bay sunset

I was lucky enough to pick up a teaching job on a Lagoon 450 for a few hours helping the female first mate learn some maneuvering of the boat, before heading to Rodney Bay for the night.

Rodney Bay was a fantastic sail upwind in 25 knots, and we finally hit the 10.2 boat speed we were looking for. GPS shoed only 9.6, but that was due to current… We took up anchorage in front of the white sand beach in front of the many resorts in the area while Sandals catamarans raced back and forth in front of the many boats here for the night.
This is definitely the land of super yachts.

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After we all had a short nap, Darren and I headed to town to check out the “city side” of St Lucia. We were amazed at the inexpensive prices of things, great quality and friendly people. It was a great stop and a peaceful sleep in the anchorage.

Tomorrow we set sail for Martinique.

St Vincent

Friday morning was the day we decided to leave Bequia and head only 5 short miles to St Vincent. It was nice and calm in the bay, and after our morning swims, and breakfast we set the sails
Briefly we took the reef out of the mainsail, then put it back in…. don’t be fooled by dropping winds-said the wise woman….

We did get some great Go Pro footage, as we reached 9.2 knots ( the highest speed yet) with 22-25 knots with a reef in. A bit of spray over the cabin top, and some drenching waves due to the crystal blue salty swell, a rain shower would be good tonight to wash the boat off.
We anchored in “Blue Lagoon” after being offered a mooring ball for only $35 US. When we called him on it, he changed his tune and said it was $35 EC, which is less than half that of the US amount. We decided to anchor.
The remainder of the day consisted of a short walk into the town closest to us, checking out the shops along the way. Prices here are much better than the Grenadines.
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Saturday was to be market day in Kingstown, so Darren and I decided to take the bus into town and do some provisioning. When I say bus, im being liberal here. They are not “busses” as we know them they are 8 person passenger vans, crammed with 15 people. Music blaring, and they give Dale and Myself a run for their money in the “rally car driving “ department.

The grocery store was to close at 1pm so we had to get to town ‘early” As cruisers, we don’t really have an “early” . 10 am it was. We caught a “bus” right outside the resort we were anchored at and headed into our Adventure. My destination goal was as below.

First we headed to the Fish Market. Really cool. Many Vendors selling Tuna, Dorado, Kingfish, Wahoo, snapper… you name it. They sure looked good. Maybe as close as we are going to get to fish.

Then the vegetable market. What great produce they had. But lesson learned; when you ask a native Vincentian if the peppers are hot or not, and they say NO, … don’t believe them. She SAID they were sweet, not hot. My fingers are burning.

Grocery store next, for the remainder, milk, pop, beer, meat, and dry goods. They were well stocked at the store near the airport. We had a cart full of provisions as we leave the store, and on comes a bus. Its 10 passenger capacity had already 12 people, but the conductor said for us, and our cart full of groceries to come along. Amazingly, I wouldent say we fit but they got us in to the van, a little harder to hold on this time with our hands and knees full of shopping bags. There where so many people in the bus by the next stop they could not open the sliding door to let someone out and the Diver had to get out come round a help pry the door open.

But we got back safe and sound and all was well.

We hunkerd donw for a second unpleasant night of sleep in blue Lagoon. It was pretty, the wifi was great at the restaurant, as was the Blue Mountain coffee from Jamaica, but the swell coming over the reefs made the anchorage very rolly.

Sunday Morning out we were, bright and early. Yes early. Left anchorage by 9, headed northward towards a few bays for diving and snorking. Our first stop was Petit Bayhout, where the snorkeling was calm and clear.
Then onto Bat Cave, where Darren and Colin had a beautiful snorkel thru caves.

Our anchorage for the night was in the local town of Waliblaou, which was made famous in the 2003 and 2005 return of Pirates of the Caribbean! This town was the main set.

The original sets that Disney Co built are still here, although not just a façade anymore, they have built building around them. The cannons are fiberglass, and the crates and stack of hay near the dock still stand.
The Hurricane of 2008 destroyed much of the dock part of the set, but many remnants remain. It was a really neat stop. No Johnny Depp.

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Pizza for supper tonight. ( we ARE told there ARE fish here, the market did not import them from elsewhere)

Next Post, St Lucia

Bequia, Northern Grenadines.

Leaving the anchorage at 0930, looking forward to a 20 knot wind from the NE, we set sail with a reef in the main for the Island of Canouan, a short 5 miles northward.
There were only a few boats around, and you know how it goes when there are two boats going in the same direction… it then becomes a race. We won.

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Our sail was going so well, and we were enjoying the speed over ground of 7-8 knots, we decided to skip Canouan and head straight for Bequia, another 18 miles to the North. After all , we had the fishing lures out, and after being skunked for 3 days prior… it WILL have been our turn.

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And a beautiful sail it was reaching speeds of 8.8 knots ( our goal is 10- but don’t tell Col, we may have to get a hull out of the water to do it) Turquoise and differenct shades of deep blue water splashed over or bows in the swell and wind waves.

Bequia has long been a favorite of yachts people. Isolated enough o remain unspoiled, yet lively enough to be stimulating and entertaining. Its blend of old and new makes it almost perfect.

Bequia anchorage

Bequia is an island of sailors and boats. The island has an active whaling station in the low-key and traditional way. They are allowed 4 whales a year between Feb- April, when the Humpbacks leave their Northern feeding grounds and head south to mate and bear young. Although very few people are left in the rural island who retain the skills necessary to hunt them, on the odd occasion they do make a kill.
We did not see any whales, nor whalers.

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We did have a really nice meal out in a local restaurant. It had lots of people in it… therefore we thought it would be good, and it was reasonably priced.

We had a beautiful meal of fish….

Next Post, St Vincent

Union Island, Grenadines, Tobago Cays

Feb 15-16

Cap’t Col took care of our check out procedures in Tyrell Bay at the crack of 8am when the Immigration office opened. I guess he forgot to change the hours on the sign, as Mr Customs didn’t show up until 9am. Caribbean time. We got our Zarpe for the Tobago Cays, and he let us know where to go to check into the next Island.
Northward we go!
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So after a fast, albeit brief sail northward, with a reef in the main, travelling at an average of 7.5 knots, we arrived at Union Island.
The island itself stands out from afar with its dramatically mountainous outline, and is protected by reefs that show its brilliant, almost kaleidoscopic green-turquoise waters.
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Needing to check into the country, we all went ashore, (yes we know we were suppose to stay on the boat) and checked out the town of Clifton with its funky artistry, charming colorful, albeit EXPENSIVE shops.
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We will not be doing extensive provisioning here. We did spend $70 EC ( $35 Canadian/ Aussie Dollars) in the vibrant vegetable market, with its excellent selection of produce and eggs. After all this is the center of bareboat chartering in the southern Grenadines.
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Getting back to the boat after shopping, we enjoyed the sights of the many kite surfers here taking advantage of the excellent wind conditions, shallow warm protected water. Darren’s feeling a new hobby coming on.
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We left Union Island for a short sail up to the Tobago Cays, and landed in a beautiful turquoise shallow patch near the beach at a little anchorage right behind Horseshoe reef and the tiny island of Baradal. We got the snorkel gear and the spears ready and set off to find our dinner. The water was clear and warm.
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We successfully snorkeled around the reef in a few different spots, but came up empty handed. Chicken it would be again for diner.
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Leaving the reef, we chose an anchorage not far away, only a short 1 mile motor thru the channels and reefs to the Island of Mayreau and its sheltered anchorage named Salt Whistle Bay. This small island is rimmed with spectacular beaches, and the beach within Salt Whistle Bay is a stunning white sand half moon shaped piece of paradise.
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Waiting for you at the entrance of the bay are the locals with the fish, lobsters and offers to assist the charter boats with the mooring balls.

We entertained ourselves with one particular charter skipper using his two engines on his rented CAT as if they were airplane jets. First forward, then full reverse, then full forward.. I’m not sure he knows there is a slow forward gear. He drove thru the anchorage at a full 3-4 knots of boat speed while everyone on their own boats wondered if they would become the causality of this terrible display of seamanship. We sat in horror at thinking what he was doing to the engines.

Curry Chicken was delicious for supper, even though it was not fish. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday Morning we set sail for Bequia.

Feb 14- Valentines day in Carriacou

Carriacou has been described in the books as the island with over a hundred rum shops and only one gasoline station
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We dinghied to shore, walked a few minutes and took the $3.50 EC bus which actually cost us each $4EC because it was Sunday, into the town of Hillsborough. EC is double that of the Canadian dollar, so $4EC is equal to $2 CDN or $AUD

Wandering around town, was nice, we found all the café’s and bars we were looking for, however only one was open. And when I say one, I mean one café,… and that’s all. Not a store, shop, tienda, nothing. Empty. Town was as quiet as a convent on a party night. Although, we did find a shop place that we thought one of our friends, Wayne, would appreciate.
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We did manage to convince one of the shop keepers to sell us a beer so we could use his very strong Wi-Fi signal however. Lucky for Darren as it was Valentines day and he was able to take me out for a romantic stroll on the beach and a beer, at least. ☺
Actually we had two beers as we had a lot of “internetting” to do.
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The ride into town we realized was a good deal, as when we finally found the same bus driver to take us back to Tyrell Bay from Hillsborough, he ended up charging us $20 EC for the three of us. After all it WAS Sunday, and it WAS his naptime.
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Apparently Valentines Day is a big thing in Carriacou, as the music from the two beach bars in Tyrell Bay played Caribbean music until the wee hours of the morning.
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It was a nice stop, as the island is full of lovely anchorages, pleasant hiking, yacht haul out facilities, several yacht services, dive shops and apparently entertaining bars restaurants and cafes. We will have to check those out on our next visit.

Oh, did I mention the electrical wiring in Carriacou? Most excellent, and demonstrated by the image below.
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Next stop, Union Island and the Tobago Cays.

Halifax Harbor and North to Carriacou

Today we moved northward to Halifax harbor, where we snorkeled the underwater statue garden, http://grenadaunderwatersculpture.com, and enjoy the rural areas a bit more before setting off for Carriacou in the morning.
We left St Georges on a Sunny Friday morning, after our regular listen to the Cruisers Net on the VHF radio at 7:30. Its like a morning talk show with information, notices, news, updates, and weather. A great wealth of Information. The Underwater Water Sculpture park was a pleasant stop and Darren was surprised that there is sufficient salt in the water to allow him to float!!!
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We motored up the coastline to Halifax Harbor and dropped the hook in 20 feet of water. Pretty deep for us.
When Colin was here previously, he had loaned a fellow who was working on this little bar, some tools to fix his outboard engine. So we walked up to see how the progress on this little bar was going, 7 months later. Obviously the progress is in Caribbean time, as its STILL not complete, but it will be a great little stop once it is.

Saturday morning we departed for our trip 27 miles northward to Carriacau ( pronounced Kare-ee-a-koo).

For days the wind has been from the East, and a bit South of East. Today, when, of course, we want to head North, where is the wind coming from? …But from the North of course. For those of you that don’t know, boats don’t sail into the wind. And this one sailed 60 degrees off it, so we had to motor for a time. Eventually we put a reef in the main, set the jib and sailed off in a general direction we wanted to go.

She sails nicely to windward, flat on the water with no heel. It makes it easy to pass up a coffee to those on watch. The guys set the fishing lures out, and we made our first attempt at fishing under sail. We ate sausages for dinner for your information. No luck today. But we had a great sail for almost 4 hours of our 5 ½ hour estimation.

Land HO! In the distance we spotted our destination, the northernmost point belonging to Grenada. We took our spot in 12 feet of water and got working on our projects. Darren and I worked on photos and blogging, and Colin commenced ripping his cabin floor apart to try and find a water leak. Yes he found it. Yes all is well.

Sailing FMD

On a sunny windy Thursday we pulled up the anchor and left Prickly Bay. We were not going far, only around the south corner to St Georges Anchorage, but we finally were able to raise the sails!

a smiling first mate
a smiling first mate

Oh how exciting for all of us. A bit rusty I may add, and it had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the half bottle of rum the night before. We turned into the wind and raised the main. And what a main she is, clean, crisp and BIG. We had 18-22 knots of wind and were to be running straight downwind, so we bore off to a Starboard tack and sailed away! With only our mainsail up, we were doing 6 knots.

Because of the angle of the wind, almost direct downwind (DDW) we didn’t unfurl the jib until we rounded the corner past all the beautiful homes, cliffs and the grand St Georges University Medical School. At rounding Pt Salines, where the airport sits, we were on almost a close reach, and we unfurled the foresail. I wish I could say that it increased boat speed, but it really didn’t. but we looked good!!! We sailed straight into St Georges, Grenada, with or sights on the two cruise ships in the dock. We knew town would be busy then. Cruise ship dock

We took anchor closest to the harbor entrance than all the other boats, in 5 meters of clear blue water, had some lunch and then ventured into town. Duty Free shops awaited.
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On the peak of St Georges is the old Fort, with its commanding view of the town, where before the invasion of Grenada, Maurice Bishop held his government.
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It was in this old Fort that they were lined up along the wall and assinated during the upheaval. Fort George was built from 1706 – 1710, on an early battery erected by the French in the 1600s, and originally named Fort Royal, it was renamed Fort George in 1763, in honor of King George III when the British took possession of the island. In 2004 a hurricane came thru Grenada, and cause much devastation. According to the story, the clock stopped at the time the hurricane hit.

Ten to four in the afternoon
Ten to four in the afternoon

Grenada is not a cheap place to live or cruise. Some things are good deals, but you really have to look when you do your shopping; watch what you buy, and shop like a local. Plantains are a plenty, and Colin has never had them before. Glad I was able to get ONE recipe from MAMA. A boat that Colin sailed with before came into the anchorage the day before we left prickly bay and offered us a tuna,… we enjoyed that dinner immensely. And at duty free shops, we got two 1L bottles of rum ( one coconut, one dark) for US$26! Some luxuries are just not going to happen here, like chips… a bag of Lays or Ruffles is about $8 CDN. Who needs chips anyways? ( read- Wayne-O)

The wait at Prickly Bay

Monday, after boat chores,… get used to this… its an everyday occurrence,… we discovered the other south shores bays. Clarks Court Bay is big and open, with the Biggest Travllift you will ever see. Its massive and green and they call it Schreck. Rightly so. We motored thru the bay, taking pictures of the massive extate on the privately owned Calivigny Island. If its not a hotel, it should be. And the boat at the dock, being washed polished and scrubbed by well uniformed staff was gorgeous. That’s how the other half of them live. OK…OK.. maybe a tiny bit of the richest of the population of the world.

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We tootled thru to Mt Hartman bay looking at Secret harbor Marina, a nice little spot, the took our spot in Prickly Bay, right close to the Prickly Bay marina, as we were still rowing, with no engine for the dinghy. Darren and Colin were taking turn, contemplating each time who was the better rower. Im taking the Fifth. No where in any comment will I win in one way or another.

This is a beautiful place to wait for parts. FREE WIFI at the marina restaurant… it only cost a few beers,… and its FAST… like we are at home again!!! Well… ok… its warm,… sunny,.. not raining,… we can jump off the boat to cool off,… and we are cruising.. finally. So, no, not like home .
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Tuesday brought us to town for provisioning. We lucked out and got on Georges shopping bus. $15 EC each, and he took us to Budget Marine, the bank, Ace hardware, ( all the cruising friendly/necessary places) the IGA, the market and the buk store where beer, wine and all sorts are sold by the case, like Costco but only about 4000 sq feet. We shopped, hit all the necessary places, and were back at the boat by 2:30. Provisions away and at the cafe- and by café- I mean bar, by 4! We are efficient!

Wednesday morning took Colin into town to pick up the much-awaited impeller for the Honda outboard along with an oil filter for the generator.
He returned with quite a story to tell… we had to sit for that one…. the $20 impeller part ended up costing him over $160, with a lot of trekking to get a little tiny piece of paper signed by a customs officer. Do you know how LITTLE of a part an impeller is…??? Well in the end he ended up with three of them. Buy sell and trade here he comes!
[caption id="attachment_283" align="alignnone" width="225"]Parts for dingy engine finally arrived. Parts for dingy engine finally arrived.

Lessons learned: keep more spares than you EVER think you will need, smile when you are going to rip someone’s head off, and make sure you take your morning tablets!

But at last, we have a working dinghy! With the oil in Generator changed, most of the chores done, we are off to St Georges in the morning to start our NautiKel Adventure northward.
Right now… off the the café- ok ok.. the bar… but its clearly for the wifi!!!!

Next post- the first sail!

SuperBowl Sunday

We read, and when I say we, I really mean ME, in the cruising guide that there was a regular Sunday BBQ at Rogers bar on Hog Island, I thought that sounded like a good place to go, meet some people and watch SuperBowl.
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Did I mention that Darren is a BIG football fan??? And by BIG I mean massive??? Well guess what..?? NO TV AT ROGERS BAR. Guess who didn’t live that one down?
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At least the SeaHawks were not in it. I may was well have just walked the plank if that were the case. This one we got over though. … it was close. Colin asked if SuperBowl was like the Final of Football or something. I did say he was Austrailian, right? So Sundays anchorage was a flop in SuperBowl terms, not just because we missed superBowl, ( as if that wasn’t enough) but because the BBQ was waaaay to expensive, and the people were not friendly. We had dinner at the boat and commenced drinking our own rum. But It really was a nice anchorage & lovely sunset though.
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Next Post: the wait for parts at Prickly Bay