Captain’s Log August 2012

August 2012 and here we are in Grenada!

In fact we arrived mid-April and the months are flying by. We had every intention of updating this log in June! We were prompted to get on with it when we recenty met an Australian cruiser, who had just returned from a visit to his home town, which just happens to be where Eric comes from. Sure enough, when he was there he bumped into friends of ours who told him we were also in Grenada & asked him to look us up when he returned. Even more amazing is the fact that we discovered that he actually went to school with Eric’s younger brother Jack! Another testament to what a small world we actually live in….!

Our last update was late March just as we were leaving Brazil, but with our Namibian and St. Helena adventures the log was getting too long, so here is the news and photos from Brazil!

Cabadelo was a relatively easy place to enter Brazil. We hired a taxi driver from the marina in Jacare, who took us to the various authorities and assisted with language issues, then we completed the trip with a visit to the local market to buy provisions. The market was reminiscent of many we had visited in Africa with colourful fruit and vegetables, lots of hustle and bustle and plenty of haggling over prices. We particularly enjoyed stocking up with 3 kgs of fresh prawns after spending 2 years in withdrawal in South Africa!
A train goes from Cabadelo via Jacare to Joao Pessoa, which is the state capital and the 3rd oldest city in Brazil, dating back to around 1585. Consequently there are a number of impressive historical buildings in the older part of town, in particular the Cultural Centre of Sao Fransisco. We had an informative tour by a young man with limited English, who was keen to practice his language skills on us and did his utmost to ensure that we understood his commentary. He also provided us with a very good walking map of the historic part of the city, which was invaluable!

Despite our lack of Portuguese we somehow managed to get ourselves on a bus to visit the unusual hotel on the beach at Tambau, which was built back in the 1970’s; an interesting concept for its age. At the reception desk we were greeted by another pleasant young man whose English was excellent (he had spent his teen years in America). He informed us that, as very few people in the region speak English, we were most welcome to call on him if we needed any assistance!


We attempted to find a bus back to Jacare, but eventually settled on a taxi and once again were given a tour of the area by a lovely driver who did his best to communicate in English and also wanted to teach us a few Portuguese phrases and expressions. On arrival at the marina, he declared that it was an honour and a pleasure to meet us! What lovely people here!!
The highlight of our visit was dingying across to listen to the mesmerising performance by a saxophonist called Jurandy, who for the past 30+ years has been playing Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ from a small boat, as he is ferried back and forth in front of the riverside bars near Jacare. We took our champagne, snacks and treats for the dogs and enjoyed the performance from our front row seats! Fabulous!
With this being the Easternmost part of, not only Brazil, but also the Americas, the sun sets by 5.30pm, so the saxophone player then wanders back up the steps into one of the bars and the peace is broken as they turn up their music and party on until the early hours of the morning, all vying for the dubious honour of providing the longest and loudest ‘entertainment’!

Whilst we didn’t spend a lot of time in Brazil we did notice a vibrancy and joie de vivre about the people. There were daily river cruises up and down the Paraiba River with people dancing, drinking, waving and just generally having fun.
We explored the Paraiba River and discovered some interesting sights including the old whaling station at Costinha across the river entrance from Cabadelo. Close by were a number of tributaries and once again plenty of Brazilians having a great time aboard their various motor boats from jet skis to speed boats to luxury cruisers.
After getting up to date with our communications and taking a couple of weeks to just relax   and enjoy the area and sample the local food, we decided to press on with our journey.

On April 1st we waved goodbye to the Paraiba River and set our course for Grenada, with a possible stop-over in French Guyana at Iles du Salut (otherwise known as Devil’s island from the book/ film ‘Papillon’). However with the rain coming down in ‘biblical proportions’ and Iles du Salut being a marine reserve and therefore no dogs allowed, we decided to continue on to Grenada, as this was another 15 day passage for the dogs and we felt guilty taking a couple of days out at Iles du Salut knowing that they would have to remain onboard again! It certainly is a dog’s life onboard ‘Amarula’!!

One of our favourite things about the passages is the opportunity to read for hours on end with no internet to distract us! As an internet addict it is great to be forced away from it at times and be totally at one with nature (provided nature is on its best behaviour!). You simply can’t go anywhere for the duration, so this is when we truly appreciate the comforts of our large, ocean-going catamaran and in particular the wheelhouse, which many people jokingly refer to as our 3rd storey, where we can relax, read, listen to music without over exposure to the wind, the rain and the sun! Our deep keels allow us to point high for a catamaran and we make very little leeway, so whilst not ideal for the usual exploits of shallow draft catamarans, we know that at sea we are in for a solid, safe passage.

Between Cabadelo and Grenada we had good following winds with the current pushing us along and we crossed the equator at 1320 hrs on 6th April. We toasted the occasion with one of our last bottles of Bonnievale bubbly from South Africa and the dogs had bones on the foredeck! We gave the Amazon delta plenty of sea room, however we were still surprised by the murkiness of the water and the debris from the river even at 150NM off the coast.

Since arriving in the Caribbean we note that places are generally no more than a day’s island hop or, at most, 2 to 3 nights on passage and we have met many people who are in awe of ocean crossings. As Eric is rarely phased by anything to do with passages and we are used to being completely self-sufficient (having spent only 8 days in the past 10+ years in marinas!), he has never really understood any concerns that I have had when it comes to the ocean, so I am enjoying a bit of validation of my concerns!!

Grenada…..


We sailed close to Tobago and did consider stopping off to have a look, but again we had our concerns about the dogs, as most of the ex-British islands of the Caribbean have similar quarantine regulations to UK and therefore do not allow dogs onshore. Grenada, thankfully, is one of the islands that is relaxed about dogs, so we entered early morning 15th April and checked in at the Customs and Immigration office in Prickly Bay, one of the numerous bays along the south coast.
Grenada is a lush, volcanic island, known as the Spice Isle of the Caribbean. There are many similar herbs, spices and plants to those found on the Indian Ocean spice island of Zanzibar, however some, which are prevalent here and regularly found in the local cuisine, are breadfruitcallalloo and christophene. We have enjoyed experimenting with these and have been honing our skills by attending the Omega & Esther Caribbean Cookery class, which is as much a comedy sketch as a cooking class. These 2 hilarious Grenadian ladies perform to an audience of cruisers and in-house guests at the True Blue Bay resort every Thursday afternoon. For the first time we are amongst large numbers of cruisers and there is a daily radio net informing us about the weather, the various social and community events, parts & services and businesses and even a trading forum for ‘treasures of the bilge’ (ie. anything you no longer require & want to sell or give to a new home).

Many cruisers come down to Grenada for the hurricane season, as it is covered in their insurance policies, whereas any of the islands north of here aren’t. Some yachts haul out & the owners head back to their home countries for the summer to work or visit family. Other cruisers live aboard year round and settle into the routine of Saturday Hash (yes there is a very large Hash House Harriers group here*), shopping bus trips on Tuesdays, Fridays or Saturdays, depending on which of the bays you are anchored in. There’s a weekly ‘lime’ (beach party) at Roger’s Barefoot Beach Bar on Hog island every Sunday – we often take the dogs to Hog island to play Frisbee and have a walk. At other times people do BBQ’s, arrange sporting events & hikes  & on one occasion Eric did a big tuna cook up on Hog island, as a few people had expressed an interest in learning how to prepare and cook tuna. This was very successful and we were all tuna’d out after a big feast of sashimi, sushi, fish cakes, tuna salad and marinated tuna steaks! Also on a Sunday there’s a jam session for all the musicians in the area at Whisper Cove marina & everyone is welcome to go along and enjoy the free entertainment, along with a few beers and the delicious food there. Other marinas and local bars offer everything from happy hours, movie nights, trivia, bingo, burgers and karaoke! Once a month there is a free jazz and poetry session at the National Museum with plenty of local talent and there was even a dinghy concert out in the middle of Clarks Court Bay, which was well attended and a lot of fun!

Slightly further afield it is fun to anchor off the capital of St. Georges, which is convenient for provisioning and also the long stretch of beach at Grand Anse, where we enjoy taking a walk with the boys in the early morning or late afternoon. The only problem here is the difficult holding ground, however you can always go alongside at the Port Louis marina or maybe the Grenada Yacht Club if you prefer to be in the thick of things.

We enjoyed watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony at Clarkes Court Bay marina on the big screen and even more exciting was the 400m final win by young Grenadian Kirani James, an historic moment for the country as he not only took the GOLD but this is the first ever Olympic medal of any sort for Grenada! In the Medals per capita stake this put Grenada at number 1!!

We sailed around to St. Georges last week where we watched the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics at Port Louis marina, whilst sipping their delicious Happy Hour rum punches! The reason for relocating to St. Georges was to be ready to head ashore in the early hours of Monday morning 13th August for the 2 days of Carnival celebrations all around the waterfront area (more of that coming up!). To add to all this excitement Eric was delighted with his catch en route from Woburn Bay to St. Georges – 2 x 7lb barracuda!

As you can see there is plenty to keep us occupied here and only a short sail (or motor) away is the stunning Tobago Cays marine reserve at the southern end of St. Vincent & the Grenadines island chain. We had the opportunity to visit there at the beginning of July when we met our internet/ Facebook friends, Rick & Kay from America, along with their friend Tom.

We picked them up from Union Island and explored Petit Tabac and the Russian rocket wreckage, prior to heading across to the more popular islands in the group, where the main attraction is swimming with turtles. A short hike up the hill on Jamesby island offers spectacular views of the whole area.

 Island hopping back to St. Georges, we overnighted at a very rolly anchorage off Palm Island, near Union Island. This is still part of St. Vincent & Grenadines, then we visited Petit Martinique, just a few miles away, which is actually part of Grenada. It has a very different feel, being much less touristy than SVG. Carriacou is the second largest island in Grenada. Hillsborough is the port of entry and the place to provision before heading south.

One of the more quirky facts about Carriacou is that there is only 1 gas station but 100 rum shops (Caribbean name for a bar)! Tyrrel Bay is a popular place for cruisers to spend time, as it is laid back and well-sheltered.

After we arrived back in the St. Georges anchorage, Rick, Kay, Tom & Lynne took an island tour for the day. We learned more about the various herbs, spices and plants, visited the old forts around St. Georges, then went over the island to north of Grenville via the Annandale Falls and Grand Etang Forest Reserve.

We saw parts of the cocoa processing technique at Belmont Estate, where we had a tasty lunch. Then we continued on to the River Antoine Rum distillery, which is still operating much as it was when it opened in 1785! Most of the rum is for local consumption, but they do make a slightly less potent rum for visitors, which is only 138% proof!!!

From here we wound our way back south around the coastal road through Grenville, St. Andrews, St. Davids passing the Westerhall and Clarkes Court Rum Distilleries and arriving back at the Grenada Yacht Club late afternoon after a long, but enlightening and enjoyable tour.

One of the reasons for getting to Grenada in April was for me (Lynne) to take my annual trip to UK to visit family & friends and spend time with Mum for her birthday.

As the flight routes landed in London (not Manchester) I took the opportunity to visit friends in the south, some I hadn’t seen for 8 years! During the first week I went to Streatley, London, Hythe, Rye, Hastings and back to London! Busy, but great to catch up with friends from the many different eras of my life! I was lucky with the weather, as my week in the south must have been one of the best weeks of summer! On Wednesday 23rd May, after lunch at the FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office building) with an old friend from early Dar es Salaam days, I did the tourist thing and wandered past Big Ben, through St. James’s Park, along Pall Mall, on to Piccadilly circus, along Regent Street and Oxford Street, eventually arriving at the Colombia Hotel in Lancaster Gate to meet up with a friend to attend a Nu Skin business meeting. All this on a perfect English summer’s day!

The meeting was great as I was able to meet some of the UK Nu Skin team and have my rescan with the biophotonic scanner to check how well I was doing on the Lifepak supplements. I was pleased with the improved score (lifepak story) and happy to be in good health. As this is not the forum for my Nu Skin business, please feel free to email me if you’d like more information.

From London I caught the train to Blackpool where Mum was waiting to meet me. We had just over 2 weeks together with the usual round of visits with family and friends and a drive up to the Lake District on mum’s birthday (1st June) for lunch at Lakeland followed by afternoon tea at our friends’ newly refurbished Bluebird Cafe at Lake Coniston.

The floods about 3 years ago caused severe damage in many parts of the Lake District and for our friends in Coniston it has ended with a silver lining as the cafe looks fabulous now. It has been a lot of hard work, but this looks to have paid off and we wish them every success.

As a Sandgrown’un (Blackpool born & bred) I had to go along the prom to have a look at my home town’s latest tourist attraction. For the past couple of years, Blackpool’s promenade has been getting a multi-million dollar facelift, however the piece-de-resistance has to be the ‘Comedy Carpet’ opposite the Tower.

 Mum, my friend Janet & I hopped on one of the new high speed trams from the end of Mum’s road straight to the Tower. Well I have to say I was impressed with the Comedy Carpet! After a half hour or so of chuckling at the many well known catch phrases and jokes we went inside the tower for a look, as we had heard that the magnificent Tower Ballroom was open for viewing from the balcony, however as it was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend, the ballroom was closed in preparation for a dance contest.

I was home for the Jubilee and I was invited along to parties at 2 friends’ houses. The first was on the Sunday for the Thames pageant, which unfortunately was almost a complete washout with light rain turning heavier & heavier throughout the sail past. On the Monday I went along to a party to watch the Jubilee concert, which was being staged right outside Buckingham Palace. It was great to be home for all these celebrations, just a shame about the weather, especially when it had been so good just the week before!

It was also great to catch up with my niece and nephew in Manchester, Bryony & Alex.

Bryony & Fred (boyfriend) went off to live in France at the end of June, so I was lucky to see them before they left! It has been fun to learn about their adventures via their blog.

Blogs seem to be the thing these days. Most of the cruisers we have met since crossing the Atlantic have blogs. It has been fascinating reading some of them, in particular our friends on Shiloh, a lovely couple John (South African) and Holli (Canadian) who also met whilst working in Africa (Ghana). John & Holli only began their liveaboard lifestyle a month or so before we met them so their blogs have been focused on everything that is new, unique, exciting and sometimes scary about life onboard.
Having been onboard now for 11 years, it is easy to become nonchalant about the lifestyle, as we are so accustomed to it, so we are enjoying a reawakening of just how special it all is. I guess we all started out with our dreams, it was a conscious decision to buy or build our yachts and everyone has a different story. Some have sailed for many years and many miles, circumnavigating more than once, others have selected much smaller regions to cruise around, some do it on a shoestring budget and others on a much grander scale, but the reality is that we are all out here doing this and we are fortunate and grateful for that and on that note we send our greetings to our friends and family around the world. We don’t have a comments section on our Captain’s Log, but we have just set up a new Amarula Sail Facebook page so we can share photos and news more often and we welcome your comments on there. Of course we always love to hear your news wherever you are!

*GH3 – soon after we arrived we were delighted to discover that the Caribbean Interhash was being hosted by the Grenada Hash House Harriers and we managed to get along to 4 out of the 5 hashes! It’s a great way to see the island, meet new people and get some exercise into the bargain! Due to the terrain here it makes the Dar es Salaam hash seem like a walk in the park! It’s a popular Hash with numbers getting up to 600 for the 700th run late last year!!

We are still contemplating whether to hang around Grenada for the hurricane season or head across to the ABC’s (Aruba/ Bonaire & Curacao), otherwise known as the Netherlands Antilles. These islands are just off the Venezuelan coast and still considered safe from the threat of hurricanes. We would like to visit Venezuela, but having removed ourselves from the piracy threat in our former stomping ground of East Africa we are not keen to put ourselves in unnecessary exposure. From what we have heard from a number of the cruisers who have spent many years around this region, piracy along the Venezuelan coast is on the increase and at least 3 yachts that we have spoken with have actual experience of it.

For previous Captain’s Logs, please click here

Grenada Carnival on 13th & 14th August was a feast of colour, vibrancy, chaos and noise. We posted some photos on Facebook. If you can’t access them & would like to see photos check out this site. It is on occasions like this when I wish I was a great photographer!