Sunday, March 31

Most Southern Destination!

Grenada, our most southern destination on our journey.  We made it!  We had a fantastic sail from Dominica, logging 200+ miles in a 24 hour period.  That's amazingly fast for us!  We sailed right to Prickly Bay on the southern tip of Grenada.  Trinidad was a short 80 miles further south.  That's how close we were to South America.  Go ahead, take a look at the map, and see just how far away that is from the US.  It's exhilarating to think how far we have sailed.

We Love Dolphins!!

They joined us for a long time, playing in our bow wake

We never get tired of seeing dolphins

Of all the places I wanted to visit in the Eastern Caribbean, Grenada, was at the top of my list.  I read lots of books about other people's adventures in Grenada and I was excited to have my own.  One of the things I remember reading was the approach to Grenada, affectionately called The Isle of Spice.  It was described as though you could smell the spices wafting offshore as one makes landfall.  This was not our experience, but it was beautiful to look at.  Grenada is also the land of exotic flowers and fruits as well as the worlds largest producer of nutmeg and mace.

Prickly Bay is a nice sized anchorage well protected from the trade winds and swells.  The surrounding hills were covered with large homes, some tasteful and some not so much.  Erica and I went ashore to check in and get the lay of the land in search of laundry, trash, market etc.  It's not everyday that one talks about farm fresh eggs with the custom agents.  He was more than happy to bring some fresh eggs the following morning if we needed some!

Our Grenada courtesy flag

Olivia sailing by herself

Coloring, painting and clay making

As we sailed from Prickly Bay to St. George, we passed a sailing regatta

Handsome sailor!

As we entered St. George, this party boat was leaving for a day cruise.  Do you think they could fit anymore people?

St. George in the distance surrounded by lush rainforest

The city of St. George.  Long ago, returning sailing ships would arrive "in ballast" of bricks that were then used to line the streets and construct the old brick buildings.  It is a reminder of the profitable journeys of the outbound vessels, loaded with rum, spices and fruits.

This is how they roll ...when doing the dishes

Our rock star dish dryer!

No need for a shopping cart when you can use your head!

Looking towards the harbor from atop the hill that leads to the market

Looking down the other side toward the market

Spice necklaces!  

Locally made jewelry

Buying fruits and veggies at the market

Down by the waterfront

Steel Drum Academy

Enjoying Grenada's Independence Day fireworks from the boat - anchored outside St. George Harbor

Tuesday, March 26

Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo

What things we do miss the most?  What things do we NOT miss?  And what things do we absolutely love about our life at sea??  Well, we put pen to paper and came up with quite a lengthy list for your reading pleasure.

Milk - fresh milk is super expensive ($8+per gal) in the northern islands and pretty much nonexistent the farther south we go.  We are going through withdrawals.  In fact, we dream of ice cold milk.  Yes, we can buy UHT milk (and we do) but it's just not the same and not in the same quantity we are accustom to.
My big kitchen and all the big pots, pans and counter space that go with it. Our galley is great but it's still very small.  And for someone who loves to cook, it is challenging to work in a small space with a mini propane stove and a mini oven that allows you to bake 6 cookies at a time.
Long, hot, freshwater showers - in a bathroom with some privacy 
Date night - when you live with your children 24/7 in a small space, it is a little challenging to have true privacy.
A vehicle - driving to the store because you forgot that one ingredient that will make your meal complete or hunt down a package or boat parts.
Dishwasher - NONE of us like doing the dishes by hand - plain and simple.
Washer and Dryer - being able to do laundry whenever I want, how often I want and have them come out clean and smelling good. 
Being able to call a repair guy and have them come to you instead of the other way around.
Being able to call who I want, when I want - the cell phone situation down here is painful.
Schroeder - our soft black kitty cat.  No need to feel too sad for him, he is at grandma's house in California!
Trampoline - this one's for the girls.  Just being able to recklessly jump around would be nice.
Friends - we have made some life long friends out here but we still miss our land based ones even more.
Baking - Kate especially misses our double ovens and seemingly endless supply of flour and sugar
Bed - Maggie misses her duvet cover and feather bed
Library - The kindle is great but we are going broke at the rate the girls are reading!
Herb Garden - Many times I just can't find fresh herbs
Camp Champions - Olivia wants to go and the big girls miss it
Snow - At home and skiing in Colorado

Living on a boat has its challenges but then again, so does living on land.  While there is no perfect place, we have certainly managed to live with less.

Television - this was not a stretch as we didn't watch a lot back home to start with
Traffic - there just isn't much boat traffic to contend with and it never results in road rage
Getting up early and Commuting to work - we roll out of bed and get to work
Overnight call - this one's for Craig
Hot Dallas summer - even when it's hot and humid in the islands, there is always the water at your doorstep to cool off in
Hectic schedules and commitments - with all the driving to and from, feeling rushed and stressed to get somewhere on time.
Carpool - especially when it rains
Tornadoes - definitely don't miss the sirens!
Noise of city life - sirens, screeching tires, construction, car stereos, dogs barking, honking horns.....
Real clothing - something other than a swimsuit and flip flops 
Dealing with the junk mail and the bills - thanks mom for taking care of that
Cleaning our big house - it still has to be done on the boat, but it is much faster
Coming home with loads of homework - maybe boat school isn't so bad after all 
Standardized school tests - kids and parents both like this one
Fast Food - not McDonalds, but the conveniences (delivered pizza etc) we fall on when we are in a hurry to get dinner on the table.  We are eating fresh local food everyday prepared by us! 
Living with more than we need - I like to have nice things, go to nice places and eat great food.  Who doesn't?  I admit that I was more materialistic on land than at sea.  It was easy to get caught up in the latest fashion or gadget.  We have a nice boat, no doubt.  However, we are living with only what we need which results in a more simple and clear way of being.

We are finally at the best part of our life at sea!

Sailing - moving through the water, powered by the wind is exceptional!  Being underway is my favorite time.
Being able to travel in our home - no need to pack our bags
Adventure in every day - Whether we are having a good day or a bad one, it's all about the journey
Going where we want, when we want - within a weather window of course
Making new friends
Exploring new places and cultures 
Wildlife all around us - land, water and sky
Sunrises and sunsets - especially on passage with nothing but the sea and stars
Eating every meal as a family - this is really hard to do as the kids get older and have busy extracurricular schedules
Living green "off the grid" - making power from the sun and wind, making our own fresh water
More self-reliant - we are the electrician, plumber and mechanic.  Craig wants to say that while he doesn't love it, it sure beats paying the professional to do it.
Living simply - We have a lot of stuff back home!
Cost of living - while we still own a home (that is being leased), our daily expenses are minimal 
Having sailed 1500 miles by ourselves from Virginia to the BVI's - it is the greatest feeling in the world to have accomplished something so few will ever experience.
Catching your dinner - mmmmm fresh mahi mahi
Watching our girls experience new things and become more independent everyday
Finishing school right after lunch
Embracing local cuisine and recreating it in the galley
Swinging at anchor - Listening to the wind in the rigging and feeling it blow on us while we fall asleep each night
Fresh fruit - exotic Caribbean fruit purchased from the native in a kayak right at our boat or the local market
People of the islands - so friendly and proud
Doing school work outside
Driving the dinghy - the girls love it.  Liv can even start it now!
Learning about the islands - they are all unique
Sleeping in - no 5am alarms for work or 7am alarms for school.
Snorkeling - so many fish and life under the surface to explore
Beach - simply beautiful, each one different than the last.  
Swimming whenever you want - within reason

Monday, March 25

Moving on

Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.  
-Henry David Thoreau

We spent two glorious weeks in Dominica exploring all that was humanly possible and soaking up the local hospitality.  We knew it was time to move on when Chris informed us that we had a good weather window to Grenada.  There was no time for lingering and no time for long, sad goodbyes.  Thank goodness, cuz I don't like those kind anyway.  

As cruisers, we make friends instantly with a common bond.  Leaving friends behind in one port is merely a sign of hope that we'll meet again in another.  Saying goodbye to Dominica was only second to the farewells we said when we left home.  It was especially difficult because not only did we make friends with the local adults and kids alike, we felt at home.  Even though we were not locals, we certainly felt welcomed like locals.  When we thought about the potential experiences we would have on this trip, fostering relationships with the locals and becoming intimately familiar was at the top of the list.  What we experienced in Dominica was exactly what we had hoped for and so much more.  Moving on was going to be very difficult.  It was forever.  We knew that we wouldn't see them in the next port and it would be a very long time before we were back for a visit.  It was surreal to actually be leaving such a special island.  As we raised the sails early in the morning with Portsmouth fading into the distance, we felt a sense of loss.  There was an empty feeling in our hearts and a kind of melancholy fog around our boat.  We could only hope that we would encounter such a special island again.  And if we didn't, we would forever be filled with amazing memories that will last a lifetime.

 Erica and I left this message to the PAYS guys the night before we left

Tuesday, March 19

Opening Day of Carnival

Carnival is a pre-Lenten celebration (46 days before Easter) held in February or March.  However, two weeks before Carnival, Portsmouth held a celebration for the official start of Carnival Season.  After which dozens of Calypso bands compete for the grand finale as well as the National Queen pageants that showcase talent and beauty.  It is undeniably hard to miss the fervour of the people's loyalty to their favorite season!!

As we left our boats in the afternoon to go to the jump up parade, it started to rain.  Once we were on shore, it poured.  As we waited for it to pass, this youngster was having fun with the waterfall cascading from the roof.

Porter and Liv enjoy popcorn and water as we await the start of the parade.

Who needs a marching band when you have an oversized truck, humungous speakers, BOOMING calypso and soca music and a DJ on the roof!?

Ross!  Our friend Ross found us in the crowd and pulled Erica and I into the parade.  He even gave us our own costumes:  Erica is sporting a hockey helmet and I am adorned with a wet t-shirt.  Lucky us!!

Sensay costumes made of frayed rope, leaves or various other materials.  It is always accompanied by a mask and often horns.  Do you recognize this mask?  It was the one being painted when we visited the CALLS school.

Another Sensay costume

School children dancing in the parade

Liv, with a birds eye view of the massive street JUMP UP - everyone joins in and follows the truck-o-music through town.

Bob and Christine try to say something among the chaos

Swimming in a sea of dancing locals

Ahhh, we made it to the end

Monday, March 18

Fun Days and General Goodness

View of Portsmouth Harbor

Bob's birthday party aboard s/v Virginia Dare

Happy Birthday Bob

Like the t-shirt?  That was our birthday present to Bob.  Allow me to tell the tale:  The afternoon before Bob's birthday bash, we realized we hadn't purchased a gift.  Oh no, what should we do?   We didn't have time to go shopping for heavens sake and there wasn't a mall down the street.  The girls immediately got busy making cards while Craig quite literally Googles "birthday gifts for Bob".  HA, low and behold, the very first search result was a t-shirt that read "Bob Rules".  How perfect is that?  Bob does rule....he is the coolest guy we know.  But how are we going to order a shirt in the middle of the Caribbean and have it delivered the next day???  Sooooo, being resourceful, Craig got one of his (used) t-shirts and the girls wrote "Bob Rules" in sharpie.  The End.

The moon sets on Portsmouth Harbor

This is where the boats are built, one at a time, by hand, by this one guy, for the PAYS boat boys.  We took the kids to see Seabirds new boat being built.  

The finished product

Enjoying homemade passion fruit, strawberry and mango popsicles from the market (25 cents each)

Playing at the beach

Chris' speared lion fish!  Ooohh baby

We were all inspired by the local fruits and vegetables that we held a Caribbean potluck feast aboard Anything Goes

Erica steeped the Sorrel flowers to make a sweetened sorrel beverage served with spices over ice

We had green bananas boiled with cinnamon leaves, ginger and bay leaves (all from the local land), mashed local sweet potatoes with ginger and garlic, jerk chicken, grilled plantains, salad and mini clams the kids collected from the beach!!  Mmmmm good!

The boys hanging out on the paddle board after a swim

The entrance to Fort Shirley

Beautiful mango tree inside Fort Shirley

Canons with a view of the harbor

Our boat boy, Martin, takes us to Secret Beach with his family on a lazy Sunday afternoon

What does this rock look like to you?  A horse drinking water perhaps?  Yep.  There was a cave located where the horses front leg would be.  We all followed Martin to the cave across the rocks in our bare feet.  Martin pointed to a small hole down close to the water and said 'there it is'.  What?  We go through there?  It didn't look like anyone could fit.  Right away, Chris, Bryson, Maggie, Porter and Olivia were out!  No way.  Kate and Reese tried it but the waves were big and scary, so they turned around.  I wasn't sure either, so I decided to wait and see.  The only brave souls were Craig and Erica.  I went back to the beach and waited for them to swim around to the other side.  Once they returned safely, Craig took me through the cave.  I felt a little more than nervous to crouch down into a small space literally big enough for my body to lie down.  There was equal space above and below the water line.  I floated and used my hands to pull me through, all the while with a flashlight and my mask on so I could see any lurking creatures that might lay ahead of me.  We saw 2 lobsters and then all of a sudden the space became cavernous and opened up where we could stand up.  Above our head the ceiling was rolling and crawling with hundreds of bats squeaking.  I took a very quick glance and then told Craig I was ready to leave.  On the other side was an opening to the bay.  We did a slight belly flop and swam as fast as we could over the coral and rocks being careful not to scrape bottom.  And that was that.  I can now say that I did it!  Would I do it again, probably not.

Kids busy building a sand castle

All About Chocolate....the name of the lesson I prepared for all the kids.  From tree to chocolate bar.  We had a cacao (Kah-Cow) pod picked right from the cocoa (Koh-Koh) tree.  Reese and Kate are drawing what it looks like before we slice it open.

Working hard at finding the places on the map where cocoa trees are grown around the world

The inside of the cacao pod.  There are roughly 30 beans inside surrounded by a pulp that has a slightly sweet tart lemony flavor.

We ended the lesson with a chocolate tasting - unsweetened all the way to milk chocolate.  

Cocktail party on Patronus!

I 'heart' you

Da Boys - Eddison, Bob, Craig and Ken G.

And then, these sweet (PAYS) boys made us breakfast and delivered it!  Salt fish, roasted breadfruit, salad, fresh squeezed guava juice and chocolate tea.  Now that's a breakfast for champions.

Starving kids, ready to dig in

Olivia learning to sail on her own

Rainbow in the clouds as the sun rises on Portsmouth Harbor