Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Sailing in the Windward Islands

 We have left Grenada and headed north. The trade winds seem to blow from the NE at this time of year and that is the exact direction we want to go!  So… we waited for a day when the wind shifted a little from the south and beetled our way up the Windward Island chain to Carriacou.  From there we visited Petite Martinique (which is nowhere near Martinique!).  This little island is packed with character and friendly, helpful people.  This is a photo of us and the welcome sign for the island.

We hiked to the top of the Piton on Petite Martinique (an extinct Volcano) and had the place all to ourselves.  What a view!

Next, we headed back to Carriacou to visit its main town of Hillsborough, a very cute, quintessentially Caribbean village. We had homemade Roti, and stocked up on supplies. This photo is of Oyai sitting at anchor just off the main pier in town. 

In Hillsborough we went to the Paradise Beach Club where they encourage visiting boats to leave some art with the boat’s name on it.  So we painted up our “Oyai” sign and left it there for posterity. 

While we were there, Aria had a homeschool class using the club’s Wifi. Thanks Lisa and Self Design!  What a place to go to school!

On our way over to Carriacou, we made a quick stop at the smallest island we have seen so far on the trip. It was about the size of a small house and totally breathtaking. It’s name is “Morpion” and we had a 20 second race around the little island. 

We could have stayed on this island all day, but we had to get moving as it wasn’t very protected for the boat at anchor. 

We have been exposed to the most amazing wildlife here in the Caribbean. Monkeys, lizards and bugs. This was one of the more beautiful caterpillars we have ever layer eyes on.  This guy was just hanging out at the beach with us.

After Carriacou, we sailed more north to Union Island to check into a new country (St Vincent and the Grenadines) then onto Bequia. We were close hauled, and the sailing was pretty boisterous in 20-25 knots of wind. Luckily, we were able to make our destination with just 3 tacks, and a little motoring. 

We came through Bequia at Christmas on our way south and love it here.  This island has so much to offer and everything is so close. There are many cruisers here and we love the vibe both on the water and in town. 

Once you step on land, the signs are welcoming, and the people are all smiles!

Next up, we are looking forward to having visitors from Canada for a week!  Addy and Erica from Comox will join us for some sunshine and sailing.  It’ll be a blast!

Sunday, January 15, 2023

From The Grenadines to Grenada

We have sailed south from The Grenadines, and have spent the last week in Grenada.  This will mark the southernmost point of our trip!  We will savour a slow journey back north after this.  The crew had been adjusting well to life on land (mostly) and we have visited more than one chocolate factory while we've been here!  Micah loves munching on raw cocoa nibs.

Grenada is absolutely beautiful!  It's not a very large island and has only about 110,000 people.  Everyone here is very friendly and helpful, and there is a harmonious mix of people from all over the world.  Things are very well organised for cruisers (people like us, living on boats) and there are social events, bus rides, tours and even a weekly running event called "The Hash".

The "Hashers" call themselves "Drinkers with a running problem" and host a walk or run through the jungles and pastoral lands of Grenada every Saturday afternoon.  We were lucky to participate in Hash number 1,226 (or something like that).  Lots of sailing friends from the ARC were there too!

A couple of days later, we hired a local driver and had 2 days of amazing touring around Grenada.  His name was Patrick, but he is known locally as "Shademan".  His Toyota HiAce was well past its prime, but got us around the island in style!  Our family really enjoys hanging out with our new Quebecois friends from the boat "Jayana", Sylvain, Sounda, Mael and Lohan.  Bret, Amanda & Renner from "Out of the Woods" have been super fun as well.  Lana has been put in charge of hairdos for the boys, and they love it!

We drove for an hour to reach a famous Grenadian Chocolate Plantation/Factory - Belmont Estates.  We learned how to make chocolate, from tree to chocolate bar.  In this photo, Micah takes a raw cocoa bean after Sheldon picked a ripe cocoa pod from a tree.  The raw beans are coated in a very delicious slime that tastes like sweet lemonade.

Next, the cocoa beans are fermented for 6 days under a bed of banana leaves.  After that, the beans are dried in the sun and, traditionally, workers would walk through the beans daily to aerate them and help in the drying process.

We tried some raw, dried cocoa nibs and they were very bitter.  A lot of sugar and dairy goes into the chocolate we all know and love!  The factory also brewed us some traditional chocolate tea that was so-loved by the Brits who started Belmont Estates about 100 years ago.  In fact, it was their main way of consuming the chocolate for many years.

On the way home from the chocolate factory, we visited the mountain monkeys that were imported from South America many generations ago.  They are quite tame, and clearly were looking for hand-outs from the tourists.  Brave Aria put some food on her head to entice a monkey to land on her.

Micah also got very close and personal with the mountain monkeys.

After the monkeys, we had the chance to hike to a spectacular waterfall up a meandering creek and muddy trail.  The jungle was lush and wonderful.

There was an amazing spot to do some cliff jumping into the pool below the waterfall, and all the "kids" threw themselves in with wild abandon.

During our last couple of days in Grenada, we stayed in a quaint little Marina named La Phare Bleu.  There were many new kid boats there, and the girls had a great time playing with all of their new friends.  Moored at the same marina was an antique, restored Swedish Lighthouse Boat that the kids played hide-and-seek on.

Our time in Grenada is coming to an end, but we have been very impressed with this little island in the southern Caribbean.  It's clean, safe and friendly with lots to see and do!  We will definitely be back one day.

During daily life, Micah has taken a keen interest in boat handling skills.  She coils lines, presses buttons, steers the boat, and just generally likes getting into the sailing.  

Next we will sail back north back into the Grenadines which is usually an upwind affair.  We will try to choose days with favourable winds (lighter and slightly from the south, if possible).  That way we will keep the crew's stoke level high, and be easier on the boat, in general.  We are very excited to be hosting Aria's good friend Addy, and her mom Erica for a week at the end of January.  We have so much to show them - snorkelling with turtles, cute little Caribbean villages, sailing around idyllic islands - the list goes on and on!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

The Caribbean is Unbelievable!

We have been slowly readjusting to life off of the high seas, and have been chilling Caribbean Style!

After arriving in Saint Lucia, we have made our way south towards Grenada.  Our last week has been spent in the Grenadines.

There is so much to see and do here.  The many amazing friends we have made as part of the ARC have been our constant companions since we arrived!  The weather here is always perfect, and there is always somewhere to go, or something to do.

Christmas was so special because we had dozens of great friends to share it with.  Lana organised a gift exchange for the kids and for the grown-ups.

Next, we had a wonderful Christmas Potluck and Beach BBQ organised by one of the other ARC boats.  Instead of Ugly Sweaters and Turkey, we had Hawaiian shirts and Jerk Chicken.  On Boxing Day, yet another boat organised the First Annual International Beach Olympics!  The teams included, North America, Scandinavia, Great Britain & Germany/Switzerland.  There were lots of fun games, like tug-of-war, silly relay race and a blind-folded SUP race.

The snorkelling has been absolutely mind-blowing!  The variety of coral and fish is impressive.  We try to find a new snorkelling spot every 2-3 days.  The girls have become very comfortable under the water, and Aria has been able to free dive to 20-25 feet deep.

The hikes have been beautiful, and even on small islands, there is always a trail to get to the top of something.  Aria is pictured here with friends from Montreal and Sweden.  This was taken on an island called Bequia which is part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

We have been trying to eat as local as we can.  Coconuts are plentiful and plantains are amazing when fried.

In the recent days, we have been snorkelling with turtles, and spending some quality time at anchor with friends doing water sports.  There has been some foiling behind the dinghy, kids group SUP, and Opti sailing.

We have also been able to figure out our drone somewhat, and have done a few flights to test it out.  This is our anchorage on Mayreau Island in the Grenadines.  Such beautiful, clear, warm water!  Oyai is in the centre of the shot.

In this video, Aria and her friend Molly are swimming next to Oyai.

Sailing on a small boat may bring-to-mind a life of isolation, but nothing could be further from the truth!  We have met so many great friends, all who have kids of similar ages to ours.

We have been having so much social quality time with friends and going to party after party.  Its been wonderful!

Next, we plan to head to Grenada and explore that island for a couple of weeks before meeting some friends from Comox back up at Saint Vincent.  We will have seen so many great places to show Erica and Addy once they arrive in 3 weeks!

Goodbye Oyai & Hello New York City!

After leaving Annapolis, we explored the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay for a couple of weeks.  We sailed to a quaint little town called St...