Learning about our new home

Whilst Junior and his team at Spice Island Marine were working on Kool Kat (KK) Mal and I tried out some eating places, did some food shopping, did a few minor jobs on KK and generally took it easy.

Happy chappies at Dodgy Dock

At the end of our last post I mentioned a beautiful meal we had the night before. We had walked around to True Blue Bay, yes True Blue but not the Aussie True Blue, and had dinner at Dodgy Dock Restaurant http://www.truebluebay.com/resort-facilities/details/dodgy-dock-restaurant where we’d eaten breakfast a few days earlier. I can’t remember what Mal ate but I had a meal of grilled chicken served on a bed of callaloo with garlic and accompanied by smashed plantain. Callaloo is a delicious type of spinach that is a staple part of the Grenadian diet. It was lightly sauteed with butter and garlic. Callaloo is very popular soup. Plantain is a type of banana that is a bit more starchy than our regular bananas and is used more as a potato type of vegetable here. It’s not pleasant eaten raw but is super delicious cooked, normally fried.

Previously at Dodgy Dock we had ordered a Grenadian breakfast: eggs, saltfish, plantain and warm bread. Salt Fish is fresh fish that has been salt-cured and dried until all the moisture has been extracted. It is then rehydrated to cook and remove alot of the salt. It was presented chopped up with finely chopped spring onions and red pepper. Combined with the delicate sweetness of the plantain it was delicious. The warm bread was a wholemeal damper style; I think I’m going to have a bigger weight problem fairly soon! I’d better stop talking about food.

Natalia, Paula & Owen

I also mentioned in the last post that I met a lovely young family. What I love about travel, and particularly about cruising, are the people you meet from all walks of life and from all over the world and each with an interesting story to tell. I haven’t met the father yet but I met Natalia, who is Spanish, and her two adorable children, Paula and Owen. The father is English and they have a mono-hull, Te Natura. Natalia home schools the children and they are travelling around the Caribbean. Natalia is a sculptress and says once the children are in bed at night, she then gets down to preparing lessons for the next day. Remarkable. Paula (9) speaks English, Spanish and French. Owen (4) speaks English, Spanish and un peu Francais! This is what I call education; it’s all around them everyday 🙂

The currency in Grenada and some other parts of the Caribbean is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, known commonly as EC. At the moment, $1AUD = $2.43EC. To give you an idea of costs, this morning I bought a small loaf of bread, a croissant and a danish for $8EC or $3.20AUD. Lunch yesterday in the marina was a BLT and salad 25EC ($10AU – Sue) and Mal had roast beef, yorkshire pudds, potatoes and vegies 45EC ($18.50AU – Mal). A small charcoal type chicken is 15EC ($6AU).

Getting around Grenada on land is either by taxi or bus. Buses are obviously the cheapest 5EC for 2 of us and are definitely the most entertaining. They come along frequently and are small vans which would probably be licensed to carry about 12 people in Oz, but here the norm is 16. Mal has been in one with up to 20! They have a driver and a “lookout” who also collects the money. They are always young and the music is pretty thumpty but every trip is a surprise; including the route! They drive past as you are walking along the road and either beep their horn or yell out to ask if you want a lift. The driver stops, the lookout throws open the sliding door and you pile in. They are so diligent about picking people up that we have been in them when they have reversed, very carefully, along the main road to see if the person who was walking down a little side street in the direction of the main road needed a lift. They go down side streets and make detours to drop off or pick up either people, someone’s lunch to be delivered, or other bits and pieces. Nothing seems too much trouble and it’s always interesting. Mal & I got on one the other day followed by a woman with 2 small children – about 2 and 4. The 2-yr old, a little girl, sat in the first row of seats next to the “lookout” and the mother and the 4 yr-old boy sat in the back row behind us. We stopped a few times and then she said something to the lookout who told the driver to stop. He then picked up the little girl, holding her in front of him under her arms stepped out and looked around for who he should give her to. Meanwhile some people got on and the woman in the back told him he had the wrong stop, it was the next one. So he turned around, still holding her out in front like a parcel, and put her back in the bus next to him. She looked quite relaxed about it all. Then, before we reached the next official stop, she called out and the driver stopped on the main roundabout. No cars could get past and everyone just waited. The lookout hopped out, picked up the little parcel (girl) and took her to another van who was waiting on the central part of the roundabout. The lookout put her on the front seat, tucked in her clothes, ran back to our van and collected a black plastic bag (her lunch) and ran it over to the other van. He then hopped back in and we were on our way again, followed by the 10 or so cars who had all waited patiently. I turned to the mother behind and we exchanged big smiles.

We got off at the IGA and did some pretty basic shopping as our fridge/freezer hasn’t come up to temp yet and we’re relying on bags of ice. I’d been to this one on my last trip and it has everything you need, including vegemite! I’m pretty fussy about my muesli and I found a great one so I’m happy. I note that most of the dairy produce is from NZ, which is similar to when I lived in Kuwait 6 years ago, which makes me wonder about out our exporting. We investigate a few of the shops and checkout the wines which are mostly from Chile and Argentina, although we did find a Jacob’s Creek Nick.

Mal admiring his handiwork.

Another 5EC and we’re back at the apartment. Checking on the boat progress we find they are working so well that we should be back in the water on Friday 21st. Whilst she’s out Mal takes the opportunity to apply KK’s new name (we had to add a ‘1’ to register her in Oz) and home port.

We had morning showers come through over a few days but they don’t last long and everything dries off very quickly so this doesn’t slow the boat’s progress. While we are on land I find a local beautician within walking distance for a much-needed mani and pedi – 60EC = $AU24 for both = good value. We are currently anchored in Prickly Bay which is very close to St George’s University so there are lots of amenities nearby for students and cruisers.

Carefully lowering KK into water
Washing down

Friday comes and she’s back in the water with a beautifully clean bottie! Mal carefully reverses out of a tight spot and we’re off looking for an anchorage. This is our first shot at anchoring and Mal steps me slowly through it. No boat hooks this time, just Mal on the anchor and chain and me on the motor. We establish a transit point to ensure we aren’t dragging and all seems good. The boat is filthy after being in the yard so we set about giving her a washdown. Mal has one more job he wants to do; raise the Aussie flag! It’s always fun trying to ID all the flags on other boats so we can’t wait to put ours up. Then it’s time for a swim and a cool-off, it’s been a big morning!

Aussie Ensign on Kool Kat I

This is probably the best time of year in Grenada – humidity isn’t too high and there is a very gentle breeze to keep you cool, although it’s been a bit windier the last couple of days. Most days it’s 28C and today (Monday 24th) humidity is 69%. We’ve been having a swim every afternoon off the back of the boat, although today’s was a little earlier as I missed my footing getting on board from Kitty and ended up in the drink! Fortunately, I’m not bad under pressure! I whipped off my bag with my passport and iPhone in it and threw them on board – neither got wet 🙂 Once I knew they weren’t wet I couldn’t stop laughing, I was drenched. Good thing the water is about 26C so no worries, be happy! Sorry I haven’t got any photos to show you! Note to self: remember to use the mobile waterproof bag on KK next time I go ashore.

Barracuda and band setting up.

Friday night we went across to Prickly Bay Marina for dinner and listened to some bands. The first was a local tin band which has such a recognisable Caribbean sound to it and the second was previous KK owner Linda’s favourite, Barracuda. He was fantastic. We left before it finished due to a rain downpour but we could hear it clearly from the boat until they finished.

Buses also offer “shopping” trips for cruisers which is brilliant. I went on one Saturday morning where they picked up cruisers from Prickly Bay, Secret Harbour and then Clarke’s Court Bay and drive you into town, wait for you whilst you do the shopping and then bring you back. It’s a great way to do the shopping on a bigger scale. I met lots of other people who are doing similar things to us and it’s a great way to pick up hints and news. Unfortunately, there were two cruise ships in town and Patrick, the driver, said we’d be harassed so we should state we lived here and then we’d be left alone. Although he said those cruise ship tourists are whitey-white and you guys are brown so they can easily tell you are “locals”. So as I made my way through the St George’s market and shops I kept saying I lived here whenever someone welcomed me to Grenada or tried to sell me something. It worked well and I had a great morning.

I’m sorry this is so long. I started it today and thought I wouldn’t have much to say but I keep thinking of something else as I’m writing so it just keeps coming. Even as I’m finishing off I know there is more I want to say but it will just have to wait until next time. We might venture around to the yacht club near St George’s tomorrow for fuel and anchor off St George’s for a night.  Then we can return here and be ready for our first Aussie visitors, Jo and Bob, arriving Saturday night 🙂

Lots of love to everyone, Sue & Mal xxx

We’re finally on board

Hi everyone
The purpose of our blog is twofold: one, a way to keep family and friends informed of our travels and two, a diarised record for us to keep when the journey is over. We hope you enjoy it and it gives you an insight of what it’s like to live on board a Cat and cruise The Caribbean.
After seven months of preparation and a 44hr journey from Oz (roughly 23 hrs flying over 3 legs) we finally boarded our new home for the next few years, and she’s a beaut! Kool Kat I is a 47′ Leopard Catamaran with four berths, four bathrooms, a galley kitchen overlooking the saloon and nav station with glass doors to the outside saloon and deck. She’s got everything that opens and shuts; washing machine, fridge, freezer, air-con, outdoor shower and lots more we are yet to discover! All part of the fun.
The previous owners, Texans Linda and John Moorhead, left her in fantastic condition and over the years had equipped her with everything one might need, right down to pineapple and mango corers!
She’s been moored in Hartman’s Bay, Grenada, since September last year with George employed to keep an eye on her, turn on the engines and give her a bit of a clean whilst she waited for us to arrive. He did a fantastic job and she was spotless when we boarded her.

Mal checking water tanks
Sue watching Mal!
Our first day (Sunday) saw us unpacking, sweating, drinking, resting, sweating some more, swimming, resting again and generally testing that everything was still working. It’s a little rocky and I’m feeling slightly queasy on and off during the day.
 Had another swim where we tried out the flippers and face masks and started a health regime of chin-ups off the back of the boat with a couple of laps around her. The water temp is around 28 degrees, heaven 🙂

Took Kitty (dinghy) into Secret Harbour Marina and had a couple of burgers for dinner. Bed is really comfortable but we had a terrible night’s sleep waking to all the new strange noises. Still on AEST, we got up at midnight for a cuppa, a vegemite toast and a good chat. Sat outside with the most gentle warm breeze caressing us – loving this temperature. Chatting was more like strategising about how we were going to move around to Prickly Bay (only one bay away) the next morning (Monday). She is due to come out of the water at Spice Island Marine on Tuesday at 8am for a bottom scrub and new anti-foul and Mal needs to coach me about what my job is. We need to turn around and safely manouevre a 14 metre long and 8 metre wide vessel for the first time and hitting another vessel may not be a good look! Midnight chats are good; us retirees can catch up with a nana-nap during the day!

We’re up at sunrise (about 6.30am), we’ve tied George’s buoy onto the mooring and we’re motoring out of Hartman Bay by 7.15am. It’s quite choppy but we’re only out in the sea for 20 minutes or so and then surfing the waves into Prickly Bay. Now comes the fun; we have to pick up a mooring. Sue’s got the boat hook in hand giving expert hand signals to Mal who’s on the helm and because of the size of the boat, can’t see the buoy when we get close. We get it on the 3rd attempt and we’re quite pleased with how the partnership is working on our first-time experience on Kool Kat!
 

OK, we get organised, lower Kitty into the water and go ashore at De Big Fish. Mal knows Ricky, the owner, and we spend alot of time here over the next few days drinking lots of coffee, eating meals and using the wi-fi. We still have ours to set up on the boat so this place is a godsend. We’re starting to get used to “island-time” – everything happens in its own sweet time. Quite a nice concept actually!
De Big Fish
Mal handling Kitty-Kat
Tuesday is D-day. We have to motor into the haul-out area so Kool Kat can be lifted out of the water with only a foot or two away from concrete walls on either side of her. We’ve got all the lines ready and we are assured there will be lots of helpers there to guide us in. As we’re approaching we can’t see anyone and anxiety levels rise; slowly we see a little movement and when we’re almost there out come two guys, followed by two more. It’s quite scary but Mal does an amazing job. I’m rushing around moving fenders so we don’t graze the sides. I had a refresher earlier on knots and was quite chuffed that I remembered how to do them under pressure! Phew, she’s in and they commence the haul out. It’s fascinating to see how big she is out of the water and how many barnacles have grown to love her over the past five months!
Not so squeezy!
Hauling Out
Can’t get any fresher.
She’ll be out of the water for a few days and we book into an apartment across the road. On the way I purchase a fresh coconut juice and the sweetest bananas from a guy who sells fruit and veg to cruisers every Tues and Fri at De Big Fish.
This might be enough for our first blog although I can’t wait to tell you about our fabulous dinner last night and the interesting family I met this morning but that will just have to wait.
Thanks if you’ve read this far. Until next time, lots of love Sue and Mal xx