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Sunday, 12 February 2017

January 2017

What excitement since I last wrote. Yes S/Y ‘Piano’ is now in St Lucia visiting Derek and Bridgit on their jetty. More of this after the run up.
The whole team swung into action soon after I last wrote, Collin, Cooper, Kaye and Damian. The hull was deemed dry to begin the sealing, (4 layers), then primer, and lastly Anti-fouling (3 coats).
Meanwhile the halyards were retrieved from the masthead where they had been since we laid up, various new items were uncovered, Falco checked the engine,blah blah in short a week of preparation filled with gusto. After hanging in the slings for the bottom of the keel to be anti-fouled, we were finally launched with Azul and Curtis aboard to determine any leaks from their work and then to replace floorboards in the cockpit lockers. Next we filled up with Diesel and petrol for the tender then motored out around the bay to see what was working. - Just the depth meter not playing ball so far. We arrived to a warm welcome at Crews Inn and continued to check out instruments, get the sails on and generally work like sink to be away for Friday. Of course we had time to say goodbye to our friends at the weekly Potluck. I also made time for a trip to Badwasings hardware store with lunch and shopping at Trin City afterwards.
Friday arrived bright and sunny (as it had been since we arrived back) so we were ready to check out with Customs and Immigration before lunch. Around 3 we slipped our birth and motored away.
This to allow Malcolm time to thread all the reefing lines and so on. At this point things began to go pear shaped. The calm mill pond changed to a slight breeze which piped up to 15 knots accompanied by tumultuous I heard the bilge alarm sounding but I had my hands full helming and Malcolm was down at the mast working by the time he was back in the cockpit it went off again and I drew his attention to it. He opened the engine compartment and noticed the seawater hose had come off its spigot and was allowing seawater to be pumped into the engine bay. We switched the engine off while he temporarily re-fixed it and I sailed down to wards Scotland Bay – yes it was still blowing hard and raining and I was actually beginning to shiver!!!! (unheard of in the Caribbean) We anchored in Scotland Bay ( after dropping the lead line to check the depth) and decided that we would try to sort things out in the morning.
At this point I should say we have an uneventful night at anchor with a good meal and pleasant nights sleep.
Next morning, Malcolm finds the offending Jubilee clip which has failed (what luck?) and adjusted the hose to allow two clips of better design to be fixed there. The remains of seawater was pumped out of the engine compartment and the wiring flushed with freshwater and of course the engine was started to check for any other leaks and to be sure that the new clips were doing their job. Then we had elevenses. Next we attacked the sails to discover that the foot had come out of the boom so we then manhandled then off into a roll so that they could be re-fed and secured again. Then they were hoisted and checked. Time for a very late lunch. We were now ready to sail to Grenada.
Wow a full 24 hours sail into St Georges Bay. Yes we saw dolphins and flying fish and there were a few showers too. After some rest and recovery sleep we checked in and out again the next day. A trip to Island Waterworld to find they were still selling the old Dolyles guide, but we did get internet and found that Jane and Paul had received an email to say that the cottage on St Barths was off this year – at the last moment they had been told that the house below was having work done involving a jack hammer all day every day plus Paul had wrenched his back so a cramped flight would have been agony. We celebrated my birthday at the Marina restaurant and decided to sail straight for St Lucia
This was another 23 hour sail at tremendous speeds with the only slow bit behind St Vincent when we had to motor. Again we arrived at first light in time for the morning net and to announce our arrival. After checking in and elevenses with wi-fi at Cafe Ole in the marina we spent the rest of the day having lunch and sundowners with Derek and Bridgit. We arranged to use their jetty for the next week.

 After docking on their jetty Malcolm spent the rest of the day tracing the wire from the depth meter so that he could check the resistance. This done he could then arrange for Vincent to call next week and see if he could fix it.
Meanwhile the bilge alarm went off again so we hand pumped the last of the water from the bilge and waited, it went off again about a day later so Malcolm checked and found that the new generator hose was not as tight as it should be- he tightened it and then cleared to seawater up AGAIN. He will also check the other end to be sure that it is tight enough too.
Wednesday Lunch at Bay Gardens was a real treat meeting up with some friends I hadn’t seen for a year or more, plus a few new ones. It seems everyone I talked to was waiting for Vincent to sort out some minor electrical problem! The next amazing item was another earth tremor at 3.50 local time – sufficient to make Piano judder in the water and for the whole jetty to judder too, when satisfied that it was another tremor I looked at Dereks’ windows and yes they were vibrating too!
For Dereks’ birthday this year, he went drinking with a few friends to celebrate, the Sunday afterwards the whole family and friends arrived for lunch arranged by Jane his niece. She cooked a massive amount of Caribbean Pelau and rice, while Jemila did the green salad Alison and others brought birthday cakes and Ice Cream. It was quite daunting trying to remember all the new names and I hope I have not made too many typos with the spellings! Naturally the topic of sailing came up and before long I had suggested that for our annual sail with Derek and Bridgit Mandy and Charlie might like to come? We arranged it for the following Sunday. Here are some snaps…

We ‘flew’ down to Anse Cochon for lunch and made sure that everyone did some helming- even Charlie Junior who was a natural! Mandy had brought a Lasagna and salad for lunch so all I needed to do was heat it and serve it. This along with Piton lagers all the way. Most people snorkelled after lunch.
We arrived back on the jetty just after dusk tired but invigorated to a smooth glass of red wine and said our farewells.
Needless to say Vincent did not materialise with the external echo sounder to check ours with so we took our hosts out for a Chinese meal on the Monday did some final provisioning and sailed for Grenada that week. Kathy and Greg arrived (S/Y ‘Indigo’) they think their engine mountings may have worked loose…..
Another fast sail to Martinique where we anchored for the night and then sailed for Dominica. Should winds have been light this could have taken all day so we maximised on day length and set off at 6 o’clock. So far it has been blissful sailing all the way (8 sometimes 9 knots on a beam reach). We arrived in Ruperts’ Bay around 5 o’clock and were welcomed by Albert. S/Y s’ Liahona, Persphone, and Moose Tracks are here already.
Saturday was the start of Yachtie appreciation week so the usual BBQ with speeches by officials. It sounds formal but is a real delight. The local headmaster had made a special effort to say a few words of thanks, this was brief and heartfelt. His staff PTA and pupils were truly appreciative of the donations made by members of the yachting community. Both the Minister of Tourism and the local MP said a few too many words but I think the clapping took longer every time he hit the nail on the head. They all realise that there are benefit to welcoming us tourists often has knock on effects. Someone had the bright idea of auctioning the table decorations so that made even more money for the cause!
Sunday is the start of Carnival .
Yes I lied We are in Dominica! The internet is being used by everyone and their dog so sorry if these two issues are confused.

January 2017

January 2017

I begin with the run up to Christmas, since writing my last Blog. Although many of our dear friends have already started their cruising season and are on other Islands there were enough sailors here to make a jolly occasion. Preparations underway for events on Christmas Eve with Mexican Train Dominoes changed to Saturday so that Sunday was clear for a Potluck BBQ at Crews Inn Marina. Christine (S/Y Quadrille) arranged for the Marina staff to prepare the Table for about 30 people, light the coals, a marquee for shade /inclement weather, she also sourced a case of Beer and other goodies from around the area. The participants arrived for noon and a great time had by all.


Early on there were rum punches and nibbles, and as the throng became hungry the smells for food cooking on the grill. The selection of ‘sides’ was enormous and showed a true Inter National flavour. After lunch we sang Carols and chatted until sunset. It’s a good job I managed to phone the UK before beginning the day! I was able to speak to the whole family who had already opened their presents and had their Christmas meal at my brothers house.

On Boxing Day we were invited around to Kaye and Colins for a traditional lunch. This began with a cool drink in their jacuzzi and was followed by Turkey, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts and all the trimmings followed by a sumptuous chocolate cake with ice cream. After the clearing up Colin brought out his Backgammon set and trounced both Kay and myself.
The next event was the regular pot-luck at Crews Inn on Thursday when we all relished a quiet evening discussing the holidays. New Years Eve was spent aboard S/Y Quadrille with Adrian and Christine and Alison and Mike from S/Y Arawak. We started with nibbles and Champagne at 7 o’clock and opened more at 8 (which is when the UK would have been listening to Big Ben)
Friday evening an evening held at ‘The Lure’ Restaurant for all cruisers at which Jesse was the YSAT representative. He and his team served cutters (traditional ham rolls with salad and chutneys) and cool beers or wine. There was also a local band playing disco music. It was very well attended by many people of all ages.
New Years Day – the event was held at TTSA (Trinidad & Tobago Sailing Association) . Jesse invited all cruisers to a -GAM (this is what the American SSCE call their big meetings, we have no idea what it stands for!)- OKA a Potluck under the auspices of the various international cruising Associations which he represents here in Trinidad. YSAT (Yacht Services Association Trinidad) and various members in the boatyards had donated door prizes and other bags of goodies which Jesse passed out to lucky winners. Yes we were presented with a bag with some very useful items of kit inside.

It is now the 7th of January and I have heard that my mothers operation went ahead to schedule, she is recovering with my sister taking care of her this time. She has done a wonderful job since she arrived and even cancelled the homecare team while she is there. I know from experience how hard she is working!
Well things are back to usual now, the first shopping trip refilled depleted reserves aboard Piano and work on the hull has restarted. Colin the gel coat man is presently sanding more of the gel coat to satisfy himself that it will be ready to begin work rebuilding the hull and do the anti-fouling. The team know that our visas expire on the 22nd of January so all systems are go to meet the deadline. Little jobs like the velco on the dinghy chaps still need tweaking by Kay and various new pieces of teak on deck need to be fitted and restrung by Alans’ team. There seems an inordinate amount to do before we return to the water but no doubt it will all get done…..

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Happy Christmas 2016

British Virgin Islands ? Little Jost Van Dyke

Here is my Caribbean Xmas card wishing you all peace health and prosperity, our thoughts travel far with a moments contemplation. As this snap shows there are places around where peace and seclusion occur daily. Just imagine standing in the tepid water and wiggling your toes.
What fun we have had since I last wrote. It continues as the rainy season helps to dry out the hull but I suspect nothing more on the workers front til the New Year.
In the meantime, the job list is almost finished! (unheard of).
Budget Marine had a Customer appreciation Day and gave a marvellous rum punch as we walked in, then discount on their products (while we sipped the punch) and celebration bags to take the goodies away. To cap it all a lucky draw as we were leaving, in which Malcolm snagged a $50 prize.

The big news was the Earth Tremor which occurred the other week. Piano shook and rattled in a new dance. I was sufficiently worried to wonder if I should get off the boat but decided it was safer aboard. Many other people felt it too , the news the next day was that there had been an earthquake off Tobago (6.2 ) which had caused it.
We went on our second ‘Taste of Trinidad’ tour with Jesse James and other cruisers. It was just as good as the first one with plenty to tantalise your taste buds. A real foodies bonanza!
Jesse adding a few fruits to clear our palettes

Crews Inn Marina were so disappointed that we hadn’t taken our berth with them invited us to their Xmas party. It was great to see all the familiar faces and hear of their exploits and dreams for next year. Interestingly I won a prize here which will be appreciated nearer Xmas.

The next event was a Pig Roast at Sails Resturant, in Power Boats Yard. Fortunately we booked a table since all would have been taken had we not! and we were joined by Nancy and Bill (S/Y Brizo). This was the Pig - and jolly yummy it was too!

On Sunday we return to the Queens Hall for a Choral evening starring the Lydian Singers, A Christmas Calabash, with the Alleluia sung by the Marionette Chorale. 

OK so that wraps it up for this blog, it only leaves me to wish all my avid readers a Happy Christmas wherever you may be, with Health,Happiness, and prosperity for the rest of this Year and into next.
  When next I write we may know if and when we can go sailing next year.....

Monday, 28 November 2016

October-November 2016

After our summer in the UK we arrived back in Trinidad to our home aboard S/Y Piano. I must say she looked a sorry sight in the dark! We slept the first night comfortably in an apartment at Power Boats then went for our first inspection very early the next morning.
   While we were away it had been found that the hull also needed drying out and after contact with Ghislaine we went ahead and had it stripped right back. This has taken quite a while with liquid stripper, then sanding, preparation and finally new layers.


Andy, who also doubles as a phone technician! Awesome.

Meanwhile, Alan and his son Brandon have done a superb job refurbishing the tired Fridge freezer- it looks like new again! As do the toe-rails and (wood below?) Another minor job since we returned was to seat the new Navigation screen in the old hole, Alan’s team have helped with this too.
Abdu the varnisher has completed his work on the saloon table which now has protected fiddles which will not scratch!
Busy Bee and various boaters have relieved us of many treasures of the bilge. (i.e. items packed far below and never used or just surplus to requirements.) We now have a modern car radio for the music center, so I am trying to amalgamate all the work done before we set sail. I had digitised the old Cassettes and L.P’s, Malcolms Reel to reel recordings and started to produce MP3’s while still at Darby Green. This has paid off big time, but there are still many CD's to finish. Meanwhile chaos rules with with the different operating systems being used, Windows 10, I-tunes and Linux not to mention all the formats to contend with lets not go there! To register the App on the radio I had to invent a car the same age as Piano, these do not exist! It also appears that the App can only be used while on line (and this never happens while we are on passage!) so technology has still to come up to Pianos standards. Plus after all that hard work it turns out that the new car player cannot cope with the latest stick it does not have sufficient memory! So back to the original MP3’s which I made all those years ago. Malcolm is also making new folders to cope.
Life on the hard has been a depressing trauma apart from the highlights of eating out with friends. We had S/Y Minnie B (Phil and Norma) round for a poor excuse of Chilli- and it was all devoured even without the kidney beans -. We also ate shark & bake at the Wheelhouse Pub on a Saturday and either pork ribs, rib eye steak, or fish on a Tuesday. 

Chris and Sharon invited us and Minnie B over to S/Y Quicksilver for the large Moon show. No-one was particularly impressed with it, but the Chicken Mediterranean with garlic bread was delicious- thanks Sharon.
Kay has finished the new dinghy chaps which look awesome, and fit perfectly. She has also made a cover for the outboard and a new one for the cockpit table. Malcolm has been busy putting a fluorescent paint layer onto the back of the dinghy for greater visibility at night. All the security padlocks are fully functioning and ready for use.
Shopping always has to be done but one exception to the household stores was a trip to visit Debbie at Rumpa swimwear, to pick up my new swimming suits. I took Norma and Sharon along and we had a smoothie at elevenses these are made to order on the spot and sooo yummy.

Maybe 20 plus blenders and racks of fruit shows these Smoothies are in demand.

of course Debbie mentioned the Christmas Bazaar at Movietown and after a quick word with Jesse we arranged one of his maxi’s to transport us there and back.
This is the Caribbean version of the many that mum has been making for Christmas.

 The whole Island sends crafts people to show their goodies, food, drink, pastries, knitted goods, chopping boards, jewellery, handmade soaps and candles, jigsaws from Tobago, all in an air conditioned conference center! We also had coffee in a swanky coffee house…