Friday, July 26, 2013

Eye of the Storm

Hurricane Ivan’s Path

On September 7, 2004 Hurricane Ivan slammed into Grenada causing several deaths, damaging 90% of the island’s housing, and destroying an untold number of boats.

St. George’s church is still missing its roof

Today most of the scars have healed.  There are still some missing roofs and structures laying in ruin, but most of the sunken boats have been removed and the marinas reconstructed.

Mo, stealing beer while others are distracted by the camera

Prickly Bay Marina facilitated a special showing of the Lunn family’s home movies of their experiences during Hurricane Ivan.  We were treated to the long version including footage of Cory’s wakeboarding before and after the hurricane.  During the hurricane their boat, Te Natura, was struck by another boat and shipwrecked.  While the experience was extremely distressing to the Lunn family, they were lucky.  They were able to salvage their boat and continue sailing.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Small Change

Roy Ston, a.k.a., “Small Change”

I am mostly a hands-on boat owner.  Meaning, I do most of my own maintenance.  Hiring work out is costly and I have found that quality control usually suffers. 

Motivator’s only exterior teal is a very conspicuous rail around the cockpit.  I gave it a couple of coats of new varnish last year, but noticed that the rail on our sister ship, the Izzy R looked somewhat better.  Captain Jeff has been employing Small Change to do his varnish.

At age 67, Small Change has been doing varnish in the U.S. and the islands for close to 50 years.  He shows up with just the clothes on his back, but is very particular about the owner supplied materials.  Most of Motivator’s stock did not meet his specifications, so I had to go shopping.

Finishing touches, reinstalling the rod holder

After I leave Grenada I may go back to doing my own varnish; it’s that cost and quality control issue I have.  Besides, watching Small Change I picked up some trade secrets.  But, whenever I am in Grenada, I’ll be calling Small Change.

Small Change

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Blog on Blogging

It seems a lot of cruisers blog.  Others say, “How the hell do you have time for a blog?”  Yes, keeping up a blog is time consuming, but it forces you to reflect on the journey and isn’t that what it is all about? 

I am finding that many blogs are being replaced by Facebook, and that is okay.  But, a well written blog article that has taken some time to put together is different from a Facebook posting.

The goal of our blog is to record our adventures and not be boring.  Too many cruising blogs regurgitate all of the day’s activities ad nauseam.  Hopefully, we occasionally achieved our goal.

Here is a shout out to some of the other blogs we enjoy:

A blog about the adventures of Rahel and Marco.  We may be a little jaded about this blog because we so enjoyed the time spent with them and miss their company.

Their Grenada Hash House Harrier names are “Tarzan” and “Jane.”  Rebecca is Tarzan and Mike is Jane.  Their blog is both informative and humorous.

With this blog you get to follow the adventures of Isla, the poor little tethered baby (see the July 20th posting for an explanation).  A very well written and humorous blog.

We just recently met Rene and Stacy at Tobago Cays.  The name of their boat is a Dutch play on words that means “Blow Me Happy.”  They took some great pictures at Tobago Cays.

From Soundings magazine, I enjoy Peter Swanson’s well written and thoughtful articles.  See his latest about U.S. Coast Guard boardings.

Troubadour recently went through a major refit, so after hurricane season you will probably see more traveling from her.  Be careful, you can get lost in Chris and Linda’s web site.


WARNING: Do not try to keep up with this couple!  Bill and JoAnne are sorely missed on J Dock this year, but through their blog we can follow their adventures without breaking a sweat.

I am sure I missed some other great blogs and I apologize.  Please send me a link to your blog because I always like to steal good ideas. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Happy Island

Happy Island started out as a spit of sand on the reef protecting the anchorage at Union Island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  During high tide or when Atlantic swells are high, most of the island was under water.  Local fishermen used tiny island and the beach on Union Island to pile discarded conch shells.

This gave Janti, a local businessman and community activist, an idea.  He cleaned up the beach on Union Island and built Happy Island out of the shells.

Working mainly by himself, Janti slowly added to the island and stabilized it with concrete he mixed by hand on the island.

Add a roof, landscaping and some chairs, and you have the Happy Island Bar & Grill.

Today, Happy Island Bar sports a bright paint job and a St. Vincent and the Grenadines flag.

The new roof also serves as the island’s water catchment surface.

Power for the island is provided by a D400 wind generator like the one we had on our previous boat, Serenity.

Janti says he would like to install a second D400 to power his sound system and to keep the beer cold.

Behind the bar area there is a small living area where Janti sometimes stays.


Not too many men can say they built their own island, but Janti brushes it off as if it is nothing.  Besides being the bartender, Janti is also the disk jockey and occasionally sings.

Using our small dingy with the “Al Gore engine” (electric), we were the first to arrive.  Earlier, Janti had come by our boat and invited us to his island.  I said we would be by for happy hour, but Janti reminded me that every hour is happy on Happy Island.

At first business was a little slow.  Janti and his helper, Andrea, didn’t seem to mind.

Soon, however business picked up appreciably.  We ended up meeting two single gals, one from New York and one from England, that were taking sailing lessons in the Grenadines.

Don’t worry, be happy!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Turtle Watching

At a swap meet, I was able to purchase these goggles with a built in camera for only 95 EC (about $35 USD).  Soon I discover why they were for sale.  As the original owner stated, the camera works fine and the goggles do not leak, but what they forgot to mention was that they tend to fog up - really bad.  I have tried tooth paste, Joy detergent, and even went to a dive shop and bought anti-fog spray.  They are slowly getting better.

Pollie: “You look like a real nerd with those goggles!”

Detractors and fogging issues aside, the camera goggles work pretty well once you get the hang of them.

With the camera goggles your hands are free for swimming, but you still need to use your hands to click the shutter.  However, you can turn on the video function and then swim around hands free.

Click to start video:

No turtles were harmed while filming the above video, but some sea grass was consumed.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary

Located on Park Beach on the island of Bequia in the chain of islands known as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary is a private marine conservation project.

The goal of the project is to save the hawksbill turtle from extinction.

Sea turtles like the hawksbill can live two hundred years or more.  They do not start reproducing until they are about twenty five years old.  In the wild it is estimated that only one in one thousand hatchlings make it to maturity. 

The turtles were once hunted for their shells that were used to make buttons and other decorative items.  Plastics have saved the turtles from that, but today both the adults and their eggs are hunted for consumption.

Human development along beaches has also taken its toll.  Instinctively, hatchlings travel towards moonlight to find the water, but bright lights can confuse them and make them go the wrong way.

At the age of 57, Orton King retired for being a skin-diving fisherman and dedicated his life to saving the turtles.  Now at age 75, “Brother” King has an interesting view on life.  He stated that when you die, it will not be important how much you have accumulate, but what you have done with your life.

Brother King keeps the turtles in sea-water ponds, feeding them on canned tuna for the first six months.

Then they are fed small fish (3”) until they are 3 years old (about 14”).  Then they are released into the ocean.  This gives them a much better chance of surviving to maturity.  He estimates that about fifty out one hundred he releases survives to maturity.

We found the sanctuary to be neat and clean.  All of the creatures under Brother King’s care were healthy and happy, including the many dogs and goats.  But, the real treat was meeting Brother King.

Because his ocean front property is so spectacular it is being sought after by developers.  There has been some pressure from the government in St. Vincent to, as Brother King says, “Shove me into the ocean!”  

Should you wish to contribute to Brother King’s project:

Orton G. King
P.O. Box 36
Union Vale, Bequia
St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Cell: 784 493 3231  784 532 8013
Tel: 784.458.3245   784 458 3596
Fax: 784 457 3322

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It Takes a Village to Catch a Fish

From the back deck on Motivator we noticed a commotion in the anchorage off Ste. Anne, Martinique.

Off in the distance, boats were deploying nets suspended from buoys.

Two boats started pulling the net towards shore.  The boat in the foreground was struggling and occasionally conked out.

A third boat helped divers tend to the net.

Communication between the boats was accomplished via holding plates up in the air.

We were not sure what one plate and a stick meant.

In the process, two cruiser boats were displaced and had to re-anchor.

As the boats towing the net approached the shore, the divers were picked up by their chase boats.

People from the village and even a cruiser took over for the tow boats and started pulling in the net.

The fish were collected as the net was pulled to shore.