Caribbean Beasties

Recently we’ve been hosting a few friendly creepy crawlies and attempting to ward off some not-so-friendly ones so I thought I’d write a post about some of the more prevalent and infamous creatures of The Caribbean.

In a previous post, Secret Harbour Hike (August 2014), I included a photo of the rather large millipede that lives on Grenada which has been known to spit at potential aggressors. More recently we were at volleyball in Secret Harbour when Alex from s/v Banyan showed me the “Frangipani Hornworm”, aka the “Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar*. Their markings and colours are gorgeous and they denuded the host frangipani in a matter of hours. Chomp, chomp, chomp! Even if the tree has been debilitated, it is unlikely that it will die. They can eat up to three large leaves per day but apparently most trees survive and re-shoot. The caterpillar is striking with the black body measuring approximately 15cms long, yellow stripes, orange feet and a reddy-orange head. The word “horn” in the name refers to a 2cm black horn that grows out of an orange bump on the end of the body. The female moth is the largest, with a 12-14cm wingspan.

With humidity around 80-90% most days at this time of year, we experience frequent, but normally short, showers. When this occurs we provide shelter for a few bees. We have a large cockpit so they normally shelter in there or under the dinghy when it’s up on the davits. Sometimes they look so exhausted that we offer them some honey to give them a lift. They love it. They then shake themselves down, clean their wings and are off back to work again as soon as the rain passes.

Bees gathering energy
Kool Kat Bee Shelter

Unfortunately, high moisture levels also bring mosquitoes and every Caribbean island has now been infested with the aedes aegypti mosquito which carries the virus, chikungunya (pronounced exactly as it is spelt). As reported in previous posts, I have had it but Mal, to date, hasn’t thankfully. 65% of the Grenadian population has now been infected with it, including alot of cruisers, and we’ve heard of local schools closing because there were too many teachers sick. Some infected people require hospitalisation as a result of severe dehydration. A quick rehydration recipe has been circulated via the Grenada Cruisers FB page: 1L water with 1 tsp salt and 1tsp sugar but we used a commercial electrolyte mix and we believe that was a valuable ingredient in my speedy recovery. The virus has dengue-like symptoms including a sudden high fever, severe pain in the wrists, ankles or knuckles, muscle pain, headache, nausea, and rash. Joint pain and stiffness are more common with chikungunya than with dengue. The mosquito is quite distinctive with striped legs and a red abdomen and is most active during daylight hours.

Aedes Aegypti mosquito
Aedes Aegypti mosquito

Moving on from the not-so-friendly beasties, we have witnessed the most beautiful little critters: fireflies or aka lightning bugs. On a dark night they are so pretty and look just like a string of fairy lights in the trees. According to the National Geographic website where I obtained this photo, they are related to glowworms, which Mal & I are more familiar with, and they have a dedicated light organ under their abdomen. It flashes intermittently to attract mates or to ward off prey. Come to think of it, I’ve seen a few human males with lights attached to their heads at night. H’mmmm, interesting!

Firefly, aka Lightning Bug

I wanted to share with you photos of one of the many geckos we see in The Caribbean. After volleyball a large group of us sit around a table at the Secret Harbour Marina for a few beers and a chat and, more often than not, this little fella pays us a visit. We need more of his kind to keep the mosquitoes down as this is a rich hunting ground!IMG_1639 (1024x768) IMG_1640 (768x1024)Gwen & Guillaume from s/v Slow Waltz actually have a “pet” gecko on board. I think his name is Pedro and he stowed away on their boat in one of the northern islands and has sailed all the way down to Grenada with them. A very cheap and easy to care for pet! Apparently, this isn’t so unusual as Tony & Anne on s/v Pavo Real also picked up a gecko hitchhiker at an island but SHE must have been pregnant because they now have a very large family of varying sizes on their boat and are currently trying to work out how to evict them!

I almost forgot about our pet, Caracas the Crab. He’s taken up residence in our port-side sugar scoop where he earns his keep cleaning the bottom of the boat. Unfortunately, he is camera-shy so I won’t be posting his photo today. Perhaps in the future sometime when he’s sunning himself on deck with a margharita!

I hope this post won’t deter any potential visitors to Kool Kat and if you’re an Aussie you’ll be used to dealing with much worse! 🙂

So, until we come across some more Caribbean beasties, this is it. One of our blog followers recently asked about cooking on board and local foods so I think that may be our next topic.

Until then have a great one, Sue & Mal xx

*Details about the frangipani hornworm were obtained from Wikipedia.


We forgot just how beautiful….

Yesterday, we left Prickly Bay and set sail for Carriacou, 35nm north. It was a magical sail and we forgot just how beautiful it is when the engines are turned off and we’re under full sail doing 7-8 knots on a glorious day. Happiness is!

I know many friends and family are saying is this the same woman who used to get violently ill on Sancha and swore black and blue that Mal should never let her go sailing ever again! But, I’ve always said, it’s a bit like childbirth, you forget how bad it actually was! Anyway, lucky me I don’t need any seasickness drugs and I’m loving the sailing 🙂 As an example, yesterday, I lazed on the trampoline whilst we were scooting along, enjoying the occasional spray as we pushed through the water.

We arrived in Tyrrell Bay, Carriacou, six hours later and had a relaxed afternoon swimming and reading. We were fascinated by the Flying Gurnard fish we saw on the bottom. They seem to dig in the sand with front fins and use their larger trailing pectorals to glide through the water. Until we get our underwater camera, here is an internet image of the little critters.

flying gurnardWe love Tyrrell Bay and forget just how beautiful it is; peaceful and clean. S/v Banyan pulled in shortly after we’d arrived, following their mini-vacation at Mustique, and we enjoyed an evening learning the card game Wizard. Mal & I had never heard of Wizard before but, coincidentally on our last visit to Carriacou, Alex & Dave from Banyan and Dalynn & Glenn from Amoray gave us a quick lesson. Well, to be honest, I got the lesson and Alex received advice from Mal about how to play. Interesting given it’s a Canadian card game, they are all Canadians and Mal didn’t have a clue! Last night was a hoot and we are now Wizard converts! Apparently I might be a challenger to Sunny Abercrombie for the title of Wizard Queen! Watch out Sunny.


Our main reason for the trip up here is for the Carriacou Hash on Saturday which will start and finish in Hillsborough. So, we decided to spend one night in Tyrrell Bay, one night at Sandy Island and the remainder anchored off Hillsborough until we go back to Grenada early next week. So this morning we raised the anchor and motored around the corner to Sandy Is. Our track yesterday and today is recorded on Spot Messenger for those interested. The password is josie:

The last time we stopped at Sandy Is we were aboard Bruce & Gina’s Leopard, Wyuna, back in 2011. We forgot just how beautiful this little sand-spit is. As we rounded the corner we could see that distinctive white beach, the  small palms and that stunning turquoise water beckoning “come swim”. We anchored with 4ft under the keel and jumped in immediately. There isn’t any great coral or turtles here but the fish are numerous and we spent many hours snorkelling. There is only one other boat anchored here so we feel like we have the place to ourselves! The water is so clear we can see our lovely new Rocna anchor. Union Island, sited behind the palm trees in the 3rd photo, is part of the adjacent country, St Vincent & The Grenadines. I love that the different countries/islands are so close.

Well, we’ve had lunch, done a load of washing, made water, baked some cookies and a cake and had another snorkel. We’re exhausted now so Mal’s having a beer, I’ve poured a cuppa and we’re just about to devote a few hours to reading. I didn’t know how I’d go in retirement, but I think I’m managing just fine!

Until next time, Sue & Mal xx

Chikungunya Part 2 (Days 4-5)

First of all, thanks everyone for your warm wishes and words of encouragement; they are much appreciated when you are feeling miserable. Many readers found our previous blog helpful and asked us to share any further findings. So, this is an update on my progress and some more info we’ve found.

Really good news 1: I’ve heard say that once you have had the chikun nugget virus, unlike dengue, you can never get it again. So I’ve been trying to track down an official statement to make me feel there is some sort of reward for going through all this and, voila, it’s there in black and white on the WHO website. I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel 🙂 however, I think membership of this particular club is on the rise. 😦

Recovery from an infection will confer life-long immunity.

Even though I have now joined the life-long immunity club, I need to prevent further bites during this acute stage as an uninfected female mosquito can bite me and then pass it on, and on, and on. She only needs to bite me once and she then carries the virus for her life.  Even though people are saying the mosquito is a daytime biter, they can also be active like other mozzies in the early morning and early evening. Tonight we’re going out to a beachside bbq and I’m going to wear long light cotton pants plus I’ll spray with our DEET repellent.

In the previous post I shared an image from WHO of the areas of chikun gumbo infestation across the globe but it didn’t include The Caribbean. I have now a found a map of more relevance from PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. journal.pntd.0002921.g001
The authors of the article this image comes from, believe there is no form of effective control to be had in The Caribbean. 😦

My Progress:

Really good news 2: I’ve continued my progress and, as at day 5, I haven’t developed a rash and my joint pain is minimal. Trying to go to sleep at night is now my biggest issue. I toss and turn, get hot, bloody irritable, I get restless legs, I get up and read a chapter, I go back to bed, I try to meditate, I scream into my pillow, I get up and have a quick shower. I just can’t lie still and fall asleep. This has been the case every night since Sunday, except when I had the lethargy and fever. It drives me insane and I’m very conscious of not trying to wake Mal, who is sleeping contentedly, snoring away and probably experiencing lovely dreams. I WISH! After about 3 hrs I normally drift off but, up until then, I’m agitated and you wouldn’t want to cross me – I’m seriously mean! Thank goodness for nana-naps during the day.

I stopped taking the ibuprofen on day 4 as both the fever and inflammation had passed. I’ve also cut back on the electrolytes but ensure I keep up my fluids with cold water and iced tea. Complications and hospitalisation seem to occur when the person is dehydrated so we really think this is the key and getting on to it quickly. My morning coffee routine has now been restored so I’m feeling some sort of normalcy again 🙂

I probably should touch wood because this all seems too good to be true. I had better not count my chickens just yet, but finger’s crossed, this is the end of it and my last post on the matter.

Best wishes and I hope you don’t join the club, Sue. xx

My real-time chikun-nugget experience

Chikungunya, or chicken nugget as Gill from Star Charger likes to call it, is on the increase in The Caribbean. As I’m one of the first in our circle of friends here in Grenada to contract this debilitating virus, I thought it may be helpful if I wrote about the Chikungunya symptoms that I’m currently experiencing and the treatment we are using for those symptoms. Hopefully this information maybe of value to someone.

We have all been talking about it here in Grenada for so long and Mal & I have now done some urgent research and share the following suggestions.

  1. Forget the natural repellents we’ve been using; The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends repellents containing DEET.
  2. If you haven’t already, stock up on electrolytes and ibuprofen.

For readers not located in The Caribbean, Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. The first instance in The Caribbean was recorded in 2013 but it has now spread to every island. The map below, from the WHO, shows the countries with infestation. The same mosquito carries the Dengue virus and the symptoms are almost the same, except for the joint pain. Unlike Dengue, there have been no cases recorded in Oz yet according to the WHO.

Area of Chikungunya infestation
Aedes Aegypti – female mosquitoes that carry the virus

The good news for me is I’m almost through the acute stage and I don’t have the incredible lethargy I suffered for the first 48 hours. I contracted it either Wednesday at Secret Harbour or Friday at Prickly Bay Marina last week and, dependent on which website you access, the incubation period can be anywhere from 2-12 days. Over the weekend I felt unusually stiff in the neck and had a nagging but very small headache. I put it down to sleeping in a strange position. Sunday night I couldn’t fall asleep and was up and down most of the night. During the night my right hand was aching  badly but I thought that it was just my volleyball-injured finger and massaged it with anti-inflammatory cream. By Monday morning it had swollen and was extremely tender to touch. Off to the doctor and the x-Ray showed a fractured finger! On recollection, I remembered my left hand had also been very painful during the night but still didn’t put two and two together.

By the time we got back to the boat I was very unwell; legs like jelly and I had no energy at all. I fell into bed and Mal prepared the electrolytes. I drifted in and out of sleep all afternoon. When I was awake I was getting hotter and hotter so I dragged myself down and sat on the bottom step of a sugar scoop dangling my legs in the water – BLISS. I couldn’t stay too long as my eyes were becoming very light-sensitive which can be a side effect from ibuprofen. They ache at the back of the eye, particularly if I rub them.

We don’t have a thermometer onboard but my temperature was high. I got quite cold and all my fingertips were numb; it felt like I had frostbite! They didn’t respond to massage but when I awoke after my next nap, my little fingertips were back.

Yesterday, day 2 of symptoms, I was still very lethargic and spent most of the day curled up napping. I ventured outside for a short time but got cold. Ridiculous in these temperatures! As the day progressed my joints became stiff and painful. Navigating our stairs became difficult and very painful, especially as the ibuprofen wore off. Lying in bed even hurt my ribs and shoulders. By night-time I felt marginally better from a fever and energy point of view and actually had an appetite.

One of the many frustrating aspects of this disease is that even though you are exhausted, sleep doesn’t come easily. I had a better sleep last night, apart from frequent visits to the loo (gotta keep the fluids up!). I awoke this morning feeling really good except the joint pain persists. I had breakfast, I’ve been for a swim and just had a light lunch. Mal was in the water with me, bless his little heart, just in case I needed a push up the ladder but it all went OK and it was soooo good!

Fever – Yes
Joint pain – Yes
Muscle pain – Yes
Headache – Mild
Nausea – No, alot of belching though 😦
Fatigue – Yes
Rash – Not yet


I feel I have recovered from the main symptoms pretty quickly and we think it’s because of the fluid intake. Mal has been diligent in pushing me to keep up the fluids. In the first 36 hours I drank 4 litres of electrolytes – now you know why I’m on the loo in the middle of the night. I’m now drinking tea as well but I haven’t been allowed my morning coffee yet 😦 I guess I’ll savour it more when I finally have it.

IMG_1695 (1024x768)
Electrolytes 1.05EC per sachet from True  Blue Pharmacy

We have also followed the ibuprofen instructions to the letter which was difficult in the first 24 hours as I wanted more pain relief when it wore off but I didn’t want any of those nasty side effects.

What we have read indicates that the joint pain can persist for weeks, months or years, god forbid, and this is known as the chronic stage! Also, a rash can develop in the next few days so I’m hoping that doesn’t eventuate.

If this has been helpful and anyone would like me to update it in the future just make a “comment” on the blog or let me know in person.

Thanks to my darling husband for taking such good care of me. Apparently I had another symptom during the incubation stage which doesn’t get mentioned on the WHO website: bitchiness.

Good luck with your prevention methods, love Sue, on the mend. xx

Some of the references we used:
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Grenada Cruisers Facebook Page
Chikungunya Virus Net

Internationally Renowned Award, well almost….

Thanks to Alex & Dave from Sailing Banyan for nominating our blog for the Liebster Award! I was totally immersed in Alex’s post responding to their nomination when I realised they had nominated us. What a pleasant surprise. It’s all a bit of fun and Mal & I are always up for that so let the fun begin!

liebster-blog-awardThere is a large array of definitions when googling ‘Liebster Award’ so I read through a couple and selected one. According to experienced blogger, Lorraine Ruguly at, the Liebster Award is given to relatively new bloggers and it is their decision whether to accept it or not. If accepted, a set of Q&A are worked through, other bloggers nominated, a new set of Q&A are set and the fun continues*.  Fun, that is, if you are a blogger. If you don’t enjoy the game, you don’t need to accept or continue. Mal & I chose to continue because we like blogging, we love reading about other people and their experiences and, as I said earlier, we’re always up for some fun.

So, thanks again to Alex & Dave on s/v Banyan for the nomination and here are the answers to your questions. We have taken a leaf out of your book by answering some questions individually when we couldn’t agree on the same answer 🙂 What, I hear you say, Mal & I don’t agree? Now, there’s a surprise!

(1) Where in the World are you? Alternatively, where would you like to travel to? We are at ‘Camp Grenada’ in Prickly Bay on the island of Grenada waiting for hurricane season to end before sailing north, together with hundreds of fellow cruisers.

(2) Describe the funniest thing you’ve witnessed in your travels to date?  Funniest or strangest? We had one of those moments when we both looked at each other and said, did you just see what I saw? We witnessed a flying stingray only a few metres from the boat in Tobago Cays. It was about 18″ above the water and moving very quickly. When we googled flying stingray we realised it wasn’t that unusual and agreed that we’d take a flying leap too if something big was chasing us! Well, we’ve agreed on two answers so far.

(3) Describe your favourite cruising grounds in your travels to date? As we have limited experience in this area we both agreed Bequia was a favourite cruising destination but, after next season, we may well have a different answer. Another agreed answer

(4) This Sailing Lifestyle has obviously been a dream turned reality for all of us out here doing this. But if you could have another dream, another “thing” you would want to do… what would it be? If it involved sailing, we’d like to cruise either the Mediterranean or the northern coast of Australia. If not, it would be to live for a period of time in Europe somewhere, eg: France, Italy, Spain. This agreement stuff is getting way too spooky!

(5) If there’s one thing you brought with you cruising, that is totally useless and you could take off your boat, what would it be? Alternatively, if there’s one thing you didn’t bring with you, and wish you had, what is it? Mal: I wish I’d brought more measuring tools, such as ‘dividers’. Sue: Makeup, it’s useless here. It’s so hot I never wear foundation of any description. Interestingly, my skin seems to like it!

(6) In this world of So Many Blog’s, have you followed a Blogger and not yet met them? Who would you most like to meet? Sue: Yes, I’ve followed “A Cup of Jo”. She is a NY young Mum and I really enjoy her writing style. In relation to sailing blogs, I keep coming across Sheryl and Paul of “Distant Shores” when looking for information and hope we cross paths one day. Mal: I like to read blogs of cruisers we’ve already met, like Banyan and Amoray.

(7) What time of day do you enjoy the most and why? Early evening. Normally the water is calm and we enjoy a G&T on our back “patio” whilst watching the sun go down. Although last Wednesday we went kayaking with two other couples at 4.30pm and it was just magic; calm and peaceful.

(8) When we set sail, and told our friends and family of our plans, we received some pretty incredible (and also incredulous) responses. Have you? Describe the one that impressed/shocked you the most? Our family and close friends have been very supportive but what surprised us was how many people commented on how courageous we were. We didn’t feel particularly courageous so we are either incredibly naive or just see this as the next chapter in our lives.

(9) With this travelling lifestyle we get exposed to wide variety of cuisines. Do you enjoy trying, eating, cooking with “local” foods, and if so, what is your favourite so far? Share your recipe ?? Yes, we love trying the local foods and will normally give anything a go. Lobster was Mal’s first response but, of course, we do get that in Oz as well, albeit it’s hellishly expensive. Sue: I’ve really enjoyed eating callaloo but haven’t yet experimented cooking with it. I’ve got a recipe for callaloo soup from Kiwi John which I will try very soon but I’ve also enjoyed callaloo and saltfish fritters. We both love soursop smoothies from the Spice Mall and, with the proliferation of mangoes at the moment, I’ve been making mango lassis every day! Recipe: mango, yoghurt, ice, milk and a smidge of honey; delish!

(10) If asked to give a random piece of advice about this lifestyle to anyone, what would it be? Mal: Make sure you buy something comfortable and, if you don’t like rolling in your bed at night, buy a catamaran! Sue: Do it and do it now. Don’t wait. We’ve met so many fabulous people with amazing stories to tell and we’ve seen some incredible places. We’ve also met people who, for one reason or another, have been forced to “retire” from this lifestyle and it reinforces our desire to keep going. I hate to borrow from a multi-national brand and friends in Oz have heard me say it many times before, JUST DO IT!

Phew, the hard bit’s over and we actually agreed on many of the answers! Go figure. Now for some nominations and questions. Many blogs we follow have already been nominated so our list is very select!


Maggie & Wylie, Harmony at Sea

Gina & Bruce, Adventures in Paradise

Wendy & Jim, Merengue Under Sail

Linda & Chris, Troubador

Bregt & Lynn, Boxing Kangaroo


1. What is that special something about your boat that you love?

2. What is the hardest part for you living 24/7 on the boat?

3. What helped you decide to take up this cruising lifestyle?

4. If you could offer some pearls of wisdom to newbie cruisers, what would it/they be?

5. If money was no object and you could make a change to your boat, what would it be?

6. What is something new that has surprised you about your partner since you commenced this lifestyle?

7. Has your initial estimate of how long you’ll be cruising altered since you first started?

8. Did you name your boat and, if so, why did you choose the name? If you didn’t, would you like to and what would you choose?

9. What is your favourite cruising destination to date, and why?

10. If there was one wish a jeannie in a bottle could grant you now, what would it be?

We also have friends who read our blog but don’t write one themselves. To you guys, I hope you discuss the questions and let Mal &  I know some of your answers next time we catch up.

It’s been fun, Sue & Mal xx

*For a far more detailed set of rules, please check out for a comprehensive and selective list.

It’s been an active week, again!

“Hello mudder, hello farder, here I am at Camp Grenada”. Yes, it’s been another fun-packed week to ten days here in Grenada. We’ve enjoyed our regular volleyball sessions over at Secret Harbour and Friday week ago we stayed for a night of 70’s, 80s and 90’s music with cruisers White Chocolate and Chris May from Troubador performing. It was a great night and what’s that expression, “dance like no-one is watching”; oops, I might have taken that one too literally. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone there and my kids will be happy to know I didn’t do an Elaine!

Sue and Sunny bopping along with other cruisers to White Chocolate.

Sunday morning saw our now regular 3-hr brunch with Rudy & Gagi (s/v Prairie Fox) and Denis & Anjelica (s/v Alma Mia). It was Kool Kat’s turn to play host so we started off with chia puddings, egg, bacon and spinach tasters, followed by home-made English muffins with various condiments, including vegemite. We are definitely converting other cruisers to this special spread! Over the past few weeks our boat galleys have produced some amazing meals: enchiladas to ham and cheese croissants, mexican bean dishes to crepes, etc. It’s a lovely way to end our week; enjoying great food with great friends 🙂

Wednesday was a beautifully calm day so Denis, Anjelica, Rudy, Gagi, Mal & I went kayaking around Prickly Bay. We paddled out to the reef and Denis & Anjelica on their double kayak and Rudy on his single kayak, caught a few waves in. Gagi didn’t feel quite so brave given it was her first time kayaking and Mal & I didn’t risk it in our inflatable double kayak. We then played a few games of Bocce at the University Club before paddling back home for dinner. What a lovely way to finish the day.

Saturday saw Mal & I participate in our first hash. A hash is a set walk or run followed by lots of socialising (aka drinking beer). Check out wikipedia for the history of HHH (Hash House Harriers), an international informal running group. When hashing for the first time you are known as newbies or virgin hashers and attract some unwanted attention in the form of a beer-soaking at the end of the hash. Mal & I thought we had covered all bases by not registering as newbies but our friends were not impressed that we wouldn’t be part of the standard initiation ceremony. Whilst we were smugly watching the virgin hashers being doused with beer, our friends turned their beers on us and we got sprayed true and proper. Thanks guys!

Sunday morning heralded another beautiful brunch hosted this time by Denis and Anjelica on Alma Mia. Her spicy salsa is TDF! That  afternoon, cruisers from Prickly Bay and Secret Harbour bussed over to Port Louis Marina for a Potluck dinner. Izzy & Jeff from Izzy R had organised for happy hour to be extended from 5-6 to 4-6pm so we jumped straight into their famous rum punches. As an Aussie I’m not so familiar with potlucks but this is now my 2nd and they’re great. A potluck is a gathering of people where each person or group of people contribute a dish of food prepared by the person or the group of people, to be shared among the larger gathered group. (  The theme was Tex Mex so I prepared a Mexican layered bean dip (recipe courtesy of my Mexican friend Anjelica) and took polenta/cornmeal muffins (recipe courtesy of my Serbian friend Gagi). Thanks girls. The variety of food was sensational and the marina is such a pretty venue. Izzy had also organised for the GSPCA to attend along with a few special little animals.

Well, I’ve still got more to write but no time to do it. I’ve got to finish another post regarding the Liebster Blog Award! Exciting? Well for us maybe, although there is no award and it’s just a bit of fun. You’ll have to read the next post to find out more……

Until then, enjoy yourselves, Sue & Mal xx