Sunday, September 25, 2016

37-39. Camp Grenada

Having been here for a month now, I have determined that Grenada is the ultimate summer camp!  We have scheduled activities, group transportation, collective meals and free time and even the communal bath house where you can enjoy your neighbors’ conversations while showering or using the toilet!  
     The Lightship houses a great bar, live music on the weekends and the shower rooms.
But the best part of being at camp is always the new friendships and the memories you make together that link you forever.  Our fellow boaters and staff here at Le Phare Bleu are that exactly!  They have become our family away from home.
    Proper hurricane prep :) - photo credit Beth Lawson

Each morning the ladies (and sometimes Bruce) get together to workout.  Classes range from yoga, boot camp, water aerobics and everything in between.
    After - photo credit Living La Vidorra

My girls and I usually follow the morning sweat fest with a quick dip in the pool before heading back to the boat to get some schooling done.
    On shore - sometimes we have guests
Andrew uses his quiet mornings on board while we are away at class to catch up on his politics, courtesy of the great wifi from the marina.  Once we take over with school he moves on to whatever project he is tackling for the day, unless someone is sneaking away to do some lobstering and then he’ll drop everything to join.
Early afternoon is spent finishing up school, doing any chores around the boat
    Scrubbing out the cockpit.
or prepping stuff for dinner but we always try to be in the pool by 4, if not sooner :) The kids play with their friends while we chat it up with ours
and their is usually a milkshake shared by the girls while Andrew enjoys a beer.  Then back to the boat at sunset to cook dinner and we usually watch a movie or play a game together as a fam.  
That’s what a typical day looks like.  
The exceptions are:  
Every Tuesday we shuttle taxi into town to provision; aka- grocery shopping, with friends.  The girls and I grab a quick lunch out before spending a few hours at the store.
    The loot.
Then the process of finding everything a space on the boat begins!  Those days don't see much proper schooling; the meal planning, shopping for the best price and critical thinking practice for storage is enough “real world” skill honing, in my opinion!
Thursday afternoons Andrew and I try to sneak away for cooking class.  It is a fun way to get some time together while expanding our sometimes boring menu :)
We have to fit a laundry day in somewhere!
And every week has one other activity squished in somewhere, whether it be a kids’ outing or hiking the waterfalls, we definitely stay busy.

Last week we joined our friends aboard Higgins to celebrate Oliver’s b-day at the inflatable waterpark.
The kids had an amazing time and it was a great way to meet lots of other cruisers.
Over the weekend, we had a proper 40th b-day for yours truly with all our friends on the dock.  We had an amazing potluck dinner,
everyone joined in with some music and singing,
and a good time was had by all!
    Happy Birthday me!
    New boat art hand painted on my card by Beth from Morame.

But I think the highlight of our week was 3 days later when we celebrated Aaron (from Take Two)’s 14th birthday by hiking the Seven Sisters Waterfalls.  Hiking is not my favorite pastime but when the reward is so great it is definitely worth it.
The bottom two falls are tiered right into each other.  It was a great place for everyone to swim, jump and play while the birthday boy, his older brother, Andrew and I headed to the top of the mountain where the 7 falls begin.  Our guide recommended we hike barefoot so our swimming wouldn't be encumbered.  So we traipsed through the muddy jungle, up, up and up until we could hear the rushing water.  Each fall presents a different challenge but we were up for it.
The first was too slippery due to recent rain so we moved on to number 2 where we had to use the foothold for our back foot to push far enough away from the wall to miss the shallow shelf at the base of the falls.
It was only about 12-15’ high but my heart was still pumping pretty strong for our first jump (our guide kept asking if I was sure I was okay to do it?  He clearly didn't know who he was dealing with :) and there was no way I was hiking back down the way we came, so the water was my best option). Fall 3 was very shallow, chest high, so the guys were slapping out.  I tried for a jackknife that really turned into more of a cannonball that everyone laughed at
but I got the last laugh since I was one of the few who didn't touch bottom.  Fall 4 was a long trench with the water rushing through so we shimmied between the walls to make it to the bottom.
Since my limbs aren't as long as Andrew’s, my flexibility came in pretty handy!
Fall 5 was insane enough for me to bow out (I held the GoPro instead). It was very shallow for the first 10’ closest to the falls and you had to parkour jump off the wall before shallow diving into the pool.
     The guys showed quite form!  
That brought us back to fall 6 where our entire party waited below to cheer us on.  Our guide explained how to safely jump and land the 35’ drop and demonstrated it perfectly.
Now we were up!  Andrew took the first jump with the GoPro to capture us from below.
    View from the top before Andrew jumped.
Eli, who had already jumped this fall once showed no hesitation and flew off the edge.
Aaron wasn't sure he wanted to end his short life this way and but when he realized I wasn't backing out he had to save face and jump.
He actually had the best form of all of us!  Now I’m left alone at the top of the falls, knowing there is no other way down.  Once the pool was clear, I stepped up and jumped; the peanut gallery below didn't even have a chance to count down :)
What a rush!  Pretty sure there is no better way to celebrate turning 14, or 40 for that matter.  It was such a beautiful day and so much fun with our friends from Take Two.
     Anytime he sets up time lapse we should be suspicious!
    Happy Birthday Aaron!

The girls and I have also started doing a few dance classes a week, just to keep us from getting rusty ;) It is so fun to share a love of dance with them.  They’ve even had one of their friends join in the classes.  She has never danced before but is enjoying working hard to learn a few steps and doesn't complain too much about being sore :) 
Paige is working on a few new songs on her ukulele
and Sky has captured and releases every crab that lives on our dock!
So I guess you can see that we stay pretty busy!  

Things learned aboard this week:
Time is moving so fast!  I can't believe we’ve been gone 9 months now.  The girls are growing so much.  They’ve become so independent and smart, luckily they’ve stayed sweet ;) And Andrew keeps taking me on dates and outings for just us two, reminding me regularly that it will be just us, too soon.  Then we have the big 4 0 - now that just can't be right, I’m pretty sure I’m still in my twenties!
    Birthday love from my girls :)

Today, like everyday, is another day in paradise.  But they say we have weather headed our way.  Next week we will share how our hurricane prep went.  We are hoping the latest storm doesn't turn into anything mean but we will be prepared for it anyway!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

35-36. Look At Those Digits!

This week can be summed up in the numbers. 36 weeks aboard totaling 8 months.  Arriving below the 12 latitude safely in Grenada.  We saw hundreds of starfish,  50+ turtles (the girls stopped counting), Sky and crew collected close to 100 hermit crabs.  And we reconnected with 2 of our favorite boat families - Take Two, after 1.5 months apart and MickBeth, after 4 months apart (the only reunion we are missing is with Aqua Vida, fingers crossed).  So now, on to the details.
    Cool shipwreck off of Bequia.
We loved Bequia but were excited to see if the Tobago Cays were as magical as they sounded.  We danced our way through the 6 hour sail south, never even having to crank on the engine.
Sailing into a cluster of uninhabited islands is pretty exhilarating.  You wonder how it must have felt to be the first to lay eyes on these after a long passage across the Atlantic.  Reefs were everywhere and I can't imagine making it without our trusty GPS.
    We're under the furthest east island inside the horseshoe ^
We anchored on the shallows inside the horseshoe reef next to Baradel, with nothing on the horizon to the east but ocean.  Andrew wasted no time getting in some much needed kiting while the girls and I snorkeled.
    Baradel behind Andrew.

Because we were in a protected marine park, the life is abundant and the creatures are not shy.  Turtles were feeding all around us
and trunk fish followed closely behind small stingrays enjoying the freshly stirred sand.
The flounder tried but even with the best camouflage couldn't hide from us ;)
    Can you see him?
We even saw a few new creatures we’d never seen before.
    Crazy box crab.
    Scrawled filefish
But our favorite find was the field of starfish!
They were everywhere and all different colors, sizes and even a few with extra legs.
Our fun continued back on the boat with the girls trying their best on back dives.
    Not quite mastered ;)
And when an unexpected storm blew in, we took advantage of the fresh water rinse and had a free shower :)
Needless to say, we worked up quite an appetite.  I was so excited to finally get to try Andrew’s infamous teriyaki kabobs and they are just as good as they look!

Our supplies were running thin and forced us to move back to civilization at Union Island.  Clifton even has a cute little designated dinghy cove
with very little margin for error, luckily our driver is highly skilled!  
Union Island has a tiny island outside of Clifton named Happy Island that we had seen on the Internet before we left the states.
So we fulfilled another on the wish list of anchoring near Happy Island.  It is a manmade island constructed from the discarded conch shells that used to litter the coastline of Clifton.  The island has been built over the last fifteen years and now has a great little bar as well as a home for it’s owner.
Locals, as well as tourists, arrive by dinghy or taxi boat to enjoy the sunset and a few cocktails.  And, if they’re as lucky as we were, they are entertained by an animated game of island dominoes - quite a treat!
Sky even made some friends and spent the afternoon collecting all the hermit crabs on the tiny island just to release them again at sundown, but it kept them busy for hours!

At this point in our trip we have such mixed emotions- We are so excited and can hardly believe we’ve made it this far.  We are quickly running out of islands to explore and don't want to be done yet.  But we are so close to Grenada and we can't wait to see our friends.  So even though Carriacou sounded like a nice island, we stopped over to sleep and pushed on to Grenada.
Our sail down the east side of Grenada was great!  We had a strong current pushing us and we motor-sailed at 7 knots which is our fastest passage yet.  And to top it off, we caught a good sized mackerel!
Our friends aboard Take Two were watching our progress south and before we had the hook down, we had an invitation to dinner.   After 1.5 months apart, we had a lot of catching up to do!  There were lots of hugs and excited chatter all evening long.  So much fun we didn't even stop to take a pic.

Every morning there is a cruiser’s net on the radio where every boat in Grenada for the season can ask questions, offer up items for trade and hear about any activities that are scheduled.  We introduced ourselves and mentioned which bay we were anchored in as did all other “new arrivals”.  After the net, a familiar voice hailed us.  We were pleasantly surprised to find MickBeth (who we last saw in Turks & Caicos) at a marina in the next bay over!  We hurried over to enjoy a day by the pool with the girls
and loved it so much that we moved in :) 
Our new Marina home, Le Phare Bleu, is amazing!  We are enjoying Hobie cats,
    Andrew sailing the Hobie through the Marina.

lots of pool time,
water, power, some great local entertainment on the weekends,
and some yoga / exercise classes with some of the other boat girls.  We’ve even done our best to get back on a bit of a schedule for school now that we are still for a bit.  

We are often asked, “what do you do all day?”  Well, Grenada has events every day for cruisers, we ended our first week here exhausted from trying to do it all!  But here’s a few of the things we’ve enjoyed so far.  The girls from MickBeth had to head back to Canada for school, so we had a proper going away party with a day at the beach,
cupcakes on board Take Two
  Made by my Sky Sky.
and a great fireworks display! (that may have been for the guests of the private island across from us but we enjoyed anyway)  
    Always sad to see our friends go.  

We also headed out to the weekly event known as a “hash” which is a hike through a different part of the island every weekend.  There is a runner trail and a walker trail but mud on both :) On our way there, we happened to see a local jumping off a bridge into the river below and Andrew just had to do the same!
So with the whole bus watching, he had no chance of backing out at the last minute and took a flying leap :)
Our first hash was fairly tame and a great success.  Paige and I hung out in town
while the rest of the gang enjoyed a walk through the countryside.  We were treated to a local food fest after and met lots of new friends.
    Sky enjoying a fresh mango, picked while on the trail.

Another weekly event is Friday dinner at Container Park.  True to the name, Container Park is a bunch of shipping containers transformed into an international food court and on Friday nights additional vendors come out to share their wares.  Grenadian local fare, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, and Indian are just a few of the options.  Followed by local baked goods, homemade ice cream and smoothies and you can wash it all down with some of the locally brewed beer.  It makes for a pretty uniquely awesome evening of food and fun.
    International foods shared with international friends.  
    Germany, Scotland, Canada and America represented at our table.
Andrew and I have also taken some cooking classes, learning Creole Chicken and the Grenadian national dish, Oildown.
Andrew had a fishing lure tutorial with our friends aboard S/V Grateful.
And if that wasn't enough to wear us out, both girls traded their long locks for some shorter and hopefully cooler hairdos.
So that is how we fill our days in Grenada, never a dull moment.

Things learned aboard this week:
There is such a thing as too much fun!  Kids may not agree but with all the possible activities of kids movie night, cooking class, yoga, hikes, farmers market, dinner with friends etc, etc…we really can run ourselves ragged.  And when the crabbiness hits from being overly tired, we take it out on the ones we love.  So we are having to learn how to pace ourselves :)
    Relaxing at home.  Enriching the girls' lives by introducing them to Indiana Jones!

When we first got here I couldn't imagine being somewhere for a few months straight, waiting out hurricane season - how boring!  But now I’m concerned we won't be able to fit it all in!
Stay turned to see what this week holds.

37 -39. Camp Grenada