Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

Christmas 2011 is coming and arriving way too fast! Here we thought we had weeks to go before the caroling and Santa hats needed to be unpacked. Is it really only days away? Needless to say we are less than prepared, and perhaps under the gun to find where the lights and decorations are hiding on the boat.

Our time in Grenada has been wonderful and all that we hoped for all the way around. The people have been friendly, helpful, and have gone out of their way to aid and assist us. One day we hired a taxi and circumnavigated the roadways that took us around the island. There were many ravines, waterfalls, tropical plantations, lush vegetation, trees heavy with fruit, bushes fully in bloom, and tight curvy roads wide enough for almost one car but no worries, two cars can pass each other if they are moving fast and no by standers get in the way. We climbed 1900 feet, viewed lakes, abandoned airstrips, churches, bakeries, schools, cliffs, neighboring islands, and so many goats tied in fields (to fatten themselves up no doubt for the holiday meals to come). Our stops included a local rummery and the tasting room, Carib’s Leap cliff, a beach that has to be one of the top in the world, a great bakery, the famous Chocolate Factory, and lunch in a local town famous for its fish frys.

Life is good and we count our blessings each and every day. 1. That we have our health and can be here learning about others and seeing how they live. 2. That our families are in good shape and don’t need us nearby. 3. That there is never a chance of ice or snow unless we leave the boat behind. 4. That each day brings new friends and their friendship our way, and, that there are few differences even when we do not speak each others language. 5. That our old friends still write and let us visit them when we are in town. 6. That family and friends are able to come and visit us and make us less homesick. 7. That the internet works in some places so that we can Skipe and see for ourselves that everyone is growing older and wiser.

Last year Kelsey, Kiele (and two friends, Mel and Russell) were able to come down and spend Easter with us. Mike was too busy with his last year of PhD research projects to fly down and relax. This year Annie, our niece from Texas, came. She spent time with us in Trinidad and in Grenada.

There is now an empty bed and bathroom available at Hotel Rockin’ Jammin’. We prepare two meals a day and sunset celebrations start around 5 daily.

Looking forward to hearing from all of you,

and to all Have Yourself A Very Merry Holiday Helen and Dave Peoples

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dec. 6, 2011 Sunset and on the Water
All the preparation were done and we slide into the water this afternoon. It is so wonderful to have the breeze off the water cooling our faces and the gently rocking of the waves massaging our tired limbs. Dave and Annabelle prepared eggplant, pigeon peas, and rice for our dinner. We are just ready to settle down for our first meal on the sea.
Tomorrow we shop for the forgotten items on our grocery list, and Thursday the new rigging will be tuned and finalized. We will turn the corner and sit in a different anchorage before leaving for Grenada or Carriacou.
We were only sinking slowly for about 20 minutes when we first put in. The hose clamps around our shaft seal had been left loose by the people installing the new shaft. We tore the junk room apart, found the right tool, tightened the screws, flipped the switch on the bilge pump and we were floating higher right away. It wouldn't be natural to not have one or two exciting moments. If you didn't check out the pictures yet Dave and Annabelle put Trinidad pictures on the blog just the other day.
P.S. A special toast tonight at sunset for Jan Anderson from us to her. A life dedicated to others and well lived. We will always remember the gift of her friendship.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Season 2011-2012 Begins

Like the migrating red land crabs that travel down from the hills to get back to the shoreline, we slowly prepare for our journey back to the sea. Dave has taken 7 weeks to ready the boat for this season. We have a new HARD dodger and bimini that will give us shade and rain protection. Sails that were 15 years old are now retired and new crisp white ones lay ready to catch the wind. The new rigging will make us all feel safer and help us get the most from our new equipment. A new autopilot is still in the box as Dave works on other projects that need to be completed before we leave the boatyard.

I arrived in Trinidad a week ago and last Wednesday our niece, Annabelle from Texas, joined us. She will be traveling with us for a bit. In order to get our bearings, we signed up for a tour of the island that included tastes of Trinidad foods. The record was broken on our trip as we hit 57 foods in a mere 11 hours--that's right a taste about every 10 minutes. Our guide drove us around the north west and northeast side of the island pointing out the sights, culture, practices (Hindu prayer flags), wildlife, vegetation, and stopping at all the little food stands/holes in a wall that he had checked out before. Barbeque pigs tails was one, cow foot soup another, and chicken foot soup the final dish that some of us passed on, but all the rest were flavors and delights that blended Trinidad and its cultural influences into delightfully tasty foods. There are hills, plains, mountain ranges, and many rivers on this small island. Our equivalent to Christmas holidays has just passed for the Hindus and their decorations and lights are still up and on display each night. I missed the world famous Festivals of Lights, where oil lamps are hung from every nook and cranny and the people walk the town sharing gifts of food and goodwill with any and all they meet. Open doors and arms are prevalent on that night--all people are one and treated with great respect and reverence.

Daily the rain comes, usually in the afternoon, and washes the accumulation of dust off the boats. It falls heavily for 10 minutes, pauses, and follows up with another short shower. Humidity is high and then higher after the rain. We have just started sleeping with a sheet over us. The temperature here is 86-90 and the night drops to 75 every night. Beats Oregon weather right now, which is 38 degrees. Our fellow cruisers span the world from Brazil, Europe, Canada, Australia, and a few from the US. Dave's Thanksgiving Feast was 3 foreigners for every 1 American. All had a great time trying different dishes and reenacting the pilgrim/Indian holiday.

After many trips to the stores we now have our food supplies for about 3 months. The water tanks will get filled on Monday and the boat will get fitted for traveling--tying down all the essentials that sit on the decks. With man's three basic needs met we will add on the fourth basic need of all cruisers--boat in the water. On Tuesday the boat will be lifted off the hard and gently dropped into the sea. Before we can leave port, however, the new rigging must be tuned to how the boat sits in the water, customs must be visited, and checking out must be accomplished. Then we look to the sky, to the radar images, and weather reports to time our leaving with the weather gods gifts of wind. With luck we will be able to leave on Thursday and head to ????
Well, we were thinking about Grenada and then the Grenadines, others have suggested heading to Tobago and then hit Carriacou. All we know for sure is that we will not be going to Venezuela but rather head north and a bit northwest after we get to the leeward islands.