Friday, January 22, 2016

Distances Around the Lower Grenadines

Looking north to Petit St Vincent

I thought you might like to SEE some of the distances between islands as we see them.   
Looking west at the NE corner of Carriacou - Village of Windward

If you want exact figures, use Google Map or Earth or some other web site or chart software.

Looking southwest to the SE corner of Carriacou with Grenada in the distance of the far left

These are all views from Petite Martinique.
Looking NE at the south and east part of Union with Mayreau on the east end near the telephone pole

And no, we are not setting any sailing distance records.
Ready to go
That is not the point of our wanderings.

Petite Martinique

This pic is for my dad.  He likes to know the stats of the places we go
We stopped at Petite Martinique to get a few supplies.  However, after a short walk, we have now decided that we must come back and spend more time on this lovely little island. 

Petit St Vincent where we anchored  sv Honey Ryder

It is just south of Petit St Vincent and northeast of Carriacou.  It is part of the island nation of Grenada.
Hope there is no fire because the trucks got a flat tire
Everything may not be up to date in Petite Martinique (see above and below pics) but most of the houses looked fairly nice by Caribbean standards.  The main/one road was ok. 
Sheep and a few goats everywhere

In fact in some ways this island is quite progressive with their climate change initiative and photovoltaic desalination plant.

Yes, solar panels power their desalination plant.  At look closely at the sign....impressive numbers...14 months to complete at a cost of $1.057 million. I think that is amazing for ANY public works project.
Solar panels - sorry for the blurry pic

New construction
New construction

Local Felix is even using solar panels to dry bananas for his banana flour. 

Petit St Vincent

Not to be confused with St Vincent.  However, it is part of the Grenadines. 

This island is tiny.

It is located NE of Carriacou.

No one lives here.  The entire island is an exclusive resort.

But it's all about the water color.


Union Island January 2016

Union Island and specifically Clifton means a couple of things to us.
Many open spots after the morning charter boat exodus - really!

It is not as easy as it looks

1.)  It is a crowded, tough anchorage.  Once we get in and finally get set, it's great.  We like Clifton.  But man, finding an open spot with good holding while the boat guys circle and anchored captains stand on deck with their bitch wings out is still a tad stressful for us.  We had some extra excitement this year when later a couple sailed in at night under sail alone.  To be clear - NO engine, at night, actually tacking through a very crowed and tight anchorage with a big shoal in the middle and a reef in front, where at least 1/3 of the boats have no lights.  They nearly caught our anchor rode and actually did momentarily get caught up on the anchor rode of the big steel German boat next to us.  Exciting stuff! 

Kite surf rescue
2.)  Union Island and Clifton mean kite surfing.  It's a free show everyday.

This year we saw something new.  Two kite surfers had boards that were essentially hydrofoils.  Check out the video.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Lion Fish Hunt Carriacou Jan 2016

Poisonous spines

January 8 2016
We went lion fish hunting with Lumbadive.  I mainly wanted to go diving again - my 5th dive!  There were five of us that used tanks.  Three others went along to snorkel.  Tom carried the bucket for 1/2 the of the dive and then hunted for the rest.  I had the bucket for a short period of time but it was heavy and I am still too new at diving to be handling a bucket filled with poison spined my humble opinion!  I also felt I was still too new to diving to take my underwater camera along so no action pics this go around.  I did help located lion fish and then banged on my dive tank with a metal stick to get the hunters attention.  The visibility wasn't great but we still managed to get a decent size one and several small ones.

Thunderball underwater battle scene
I do have to tell you that at one point all five of us were swimming side by side along the bottom with spear guns and Hawaiian slings ready to go.  All I could think was that we looked like a scene straight out of the James Bond movie Thunderball.  Remember?

Of course the theme song "Thunderball" started playing immediately in my head.  Sort of weird to have Tom Jone's belting out music as you swim along but that was the soundtrack in my head at the time. 
Spines everywhere

Anyway....lion fish.  So what's the big deal?  Poisonous fins/spines!  Can you see them?  Seven in total that must be cut off.  Basically everything but the tail. 
Lion fish (left) contents of it's stomach - another fish (right)

I told you about them last year when Tom went Lion Fish Hunting.  But I didn't realize just how big of an appetite they have.  It's HUGE.  The above little fish (right) was found inside the small lion fish (left).  It's what....1/3+ the size of the lion fish and swallowed whole?  Wow!  

Our haul
Because they are so voracious and thus threatening the reefs of the Caribbean, lion fish hunts kill as many as possible.  It doesn't matter if they are big or small, kill them all.  Of course only the medium to larger lion fish are eaten.  The small ones are too much of a bother to clean and fix.  Be sure to keep an eye out for lion fish on menus in restaurants in the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida.  Please order it, if you like fish.  It's safe to eat (once the spines are removed), tasty and helps reduce the population.  If we eat more, then people will fish more for them.    
Joanne cleaning up the big one
Diane and Richard hosted a potluck at their house that evening, inviting many of the local ex-pat community and us to sample the lion fish.  It was a fun evening punctuated by good food, great hosts and some interesting characters. 

Lion Fish potluck - pic by Richard

Plongee - PADI Open Water Dive Certificate - Final Word

I want to say a special thanks to Lumbadive.  From day one (last year) on Tom's lion fish hunt, Richard and Diane (owners of Lumbadive) have been open, friendly, and accommodating.  In the weeks that followed me getting my dive certificate, we got to know Richard, Diane, Sylvain and Joanne better.  They are a big part of what makes Carriacou such a special place for us.
Richard and me
Sylvain my instructor was terrific.  Carriacou is a great place to learn to dive.  There are so many dive sites with good, healthy reefs.  If any of you readers are thinking of getting your PADI Open Water, I would highly, highly recommend Lumbadive.  Additionally, for those of you that have your PADI and need a refresher or want to take the next step, Lumbadive is the place!

By getting my certificate thru Lumbadive, I earned Diane's mark of accomplishment
I am proud of my accomplishment and excited to see where this new activity takes us.    

Plongee - PADI Open Water Scuba Certificate Continued

View of Tyrrel Bay from Lumbadive

Part two 12-22-15

Our day started with some excitement.  Around 7am a storm blew through.  By the time Tom got the wind instruments turned on it had dropped to 30 knots.  The wind wall that came in had to be up around 35-40 knots.  I looked up and saw a boat moving.  "Those people are leaving in this?"  Wait.....uh oh.  I realized immediately it was an unmanned boat dragging through the anchorage.  I put out an immediate announcement on VHF radio and warned a boat that it was headed for.  That captain jumped to action and was able to motor on his anchor just out of the way of the dragging boat.  Whew!  We along with others in the anchorage were trying to decide what to do.  Usually we go after boats like that.  We have in the past.  However, our dinghy was up and even in the best weather, Nick Nack won't plane.   While we were thinking, a couple of people with stronger ( 4 stroke) outboards went out after the dragging boat.  It was on a mooring and apparently the strong winds dislodged the mooring so it was dragging its mooring.  Anyway....they got it wrangled and a local fishing boat helped them get it anchored in the back of the field.  Whew!  And it's not even 8am!
Plongee x2

At 9am we went to the dive shop.  The dive master had looked over Tom regulator yesterday to fix an issue.  He showed Tom some details.  Good info.  His wife Joanne didn't go with us today.  We headed back to the same spot.  It was of course rougher in the boat and on the surface with the weather kicked up a tad.  While it was a bit stirred up, it was still good on the reef.  Like yesterday, while we were still in the boat Sylvain told me what skills he wanted me to do - same that I learned in the pool.  I told him I was apprehensive about clearing my mask as I struggled a bit with that in the pool.  He told me he had a different way to do it that might help.  He would demo that for me once we submerged.  He also adjusted my weigh belt from yesterday - making it 2 lbs lighter.  It worked.

The three of us descended to the bottom and Tom hang out while I did my skills.  The instructor was patient and assuring.  His way of clearing my mask worked much better.  I completed all my skills and then we spent the rest of the time exploring the reef.  My buoyancy was much better today - thus I was able to stay down and level.  This also meant I didn't need to mess with clearing my ears so much like yesterday.  There were so many fish.  Many times above us.  We saw not one but TWO octopus!!!!!  I saw an octopus finally!!  We saw 3 big lion fish and a baby.  It was good - very good.  So kewl to swim along slowly seeing all the bright colors, weird shaped coral and crazy fish.   Uh-oh.....this could get expensive.  Ha!

TWO octopus
Finally it was time to go up.  I had to demonstrate being out of air and using the instructors air and a buddy surface.  On the surface, I had to do another skill.  It was tough with the waves but I did it and thus passed all the days skills. 
Day four dive site

Okay, I am making this too long.  I know, I know.....Dives three and four were both in different locations.  Again, Sylvain my instructor reviewed with me ahead of time in the boat what we were going to do once in water.  He was calm, clear and reassuring.  The same was true once we were down on the bottom.  I felt completely comfortable with him. 
All four required dives complete - passed!

As with dives one and two, I demonstrated whatever skill he needed me to do and then we spent the rest of the time looking at all the brilliant colored fish, weird looking coral and everything else that makes up this fantastic underwater world.  
No, not a mug shot but my PADI ID card pic
I demonstrated all the skills in the four required open water dives and thus completed my PADI Open Water.  Woo Hoo!! 


Plongee - PADI Open Water Scuba Certificate for Sabrina

Part One 12-21-15
FYI - Plongee is dive in French and WAY more fun to say than dive.  "Plongee, plongee, plongee."  Seriously, try it.

I am finishing my scuba certificate is week.  I did a classroom stuff online this summer.  We didn't have internet at the Ham Shack (the house where we lived) so I went to our local grocery store in KC and used their internet.  Five chapters with little quizzes and final quiz at the end of each chapter plus a big final took me about 11-12 hours spread out over 5 days.  I passed 100%.

Then I did the four pool dives (confined water) with KC Dive Shop.  I borrowed a mask and fins from a friend in KC since my stuff was in the boat.  Thank you Kimberly!  The shop had the rest.  The first class was so so, but the rest of the classes got better as I got used to it.  I passed all the skills for the confined water portion and a final test.  Thank you to KC Dive Shop and my instructor Roger Mose.

This morning was the first of my 4 open water dives with a shop here in Carriacou - Lumbadive.  Tom went lion fish hunting with this shop last season and then after the hunt, Lumbadive owners (Richard and Diane) invited us to dinner at their house, grilling up the lion fish -yum.  They are a nice French Canadian couple that have owned the shop for several years.  I liked them so that is how I decided to finish up my scuba here.  In KC, you have to go to Beaver Lake - cold and low visibility......NO thank you.

Me after diving
I purchased a new full length wet suit (3mm) in Miami from Divers Direct right before we flew back home to sv Honey Ryder.  Purple and black!!!  Equipment is expensive in KC and limited choice.  The same is true in the Caribbean.  I also got a wet suit top (2mm) to use when I snorkel or clean the bottom of the boat.  Divers Direct is a big mega shop in FL so prices and selection are much better.   I decided not to get equipment beyond that because I want to see 1.)  How much I like scuba and 2.)  How much we go diving.  Equipment is expensive and takes up space on our boat.  All the dive shops have gear for divers to rent.  Lumbadive has nice stuff.  Tom has full dive gear including tank aboard so we can use that if we need to get under the boat to do work.  He had to twice last season.    
Me and my instructor Sylvain
We went to the shop at 9am.  I had to take a small quiz.  I had already taken it before but it was a good fresher.  Then my instructor - Sylvain talked with me just a bit about what we were going to do.  He had me set up my gear, showing me a few tricks he finds helpful.  The captain of the boat (Travis) loaded everything - woo carrying heavy tanks and such.  Off we went.  It was a quick 10 min ride to the south mouth of this bay.  We suited up and the instructor talked with me some more.  Tom was buddied up with the instructors wife, Joanne. She had a really nice underwater camera and took pics and video.

Super Plongee Tom
I lucked out as Lumbadive didn't have any other students so basically I had private instruction the whole time.  In KC there were ten of us trying to get used to the equipment and feel of scuba aka flopping around in the pool, like drunken seals.

We got into the water and he checked my weighs and buoyancy.  We followed a rope down to the seabed about 30 -35 feet down.  It was a small reef but very kewl.  We spent an hour swimming around it looking at all the kewl stuff.  We saw several spotted eels and one very small green eel.  We saw 2 tiny, tiny lobsters and a big lion fish (12" long). Tom and his partner saw an octopus.  I didn't see it.  I want so badly to see an octopus.  Of course tons and tons of colorful reef fish.  It was great because we weren't in a hurry like you are when you are snorkeling and you dive down for a quick look on a big breath.
Plongee pair - I was happy, it was just bright out
I did struggle a bit with my buoyancy - staying level and thus down.  That is natural for most people at first or so I am told. Because I was going up and down some, I also had to clear my ears more and thus had a few issues towards the end with that.  Overall ok.  The instructor said I did fine and that all of at is quite normal on the first dive.  He said I reacted well and didn't panic.
Tomorrow is dive two.  We will go back to the same reef but this time I will have to do skills I learned in the pool.  Oh boy.  Fingers crossed I can remember and do them.

Tom's New Career

Tyrrel Bay Carriacou
January 2016
I have mentioned several times before how harsh the environment can be when living aboard.  Everything seems to breakdown so quickly.  Everything.  This includes our shoes.  Okay.....Keens and flip flops are the extent of our shoes but they still seems to breakdown rather quickly.  But then again, we wear them everyday.  In true cruiser fashion, Tom has taken to fixing our shoes to get just a little more life out of them.  He has become rather good at it, testing various glues, epoxies and even hand stitching in some cases.  Currently his favorite is contact cement.

New Career?  Possibly.  Yesterday we were ashore running errands.  Our last stop was at the chicken ladies shop to buy chicken and eggs.....but not necessarily in that order!  Get it?  Bahahahaha.  Anyway, she was dragging one foot around and explained that her new shoes "only one month old" were broken.  The sole was coming off and thus flapping around.  She was very disgusted.  "One month I've had these."  So I said "My husband fixes shoes.  Do you want him to fix yours?"  She glanced at us and just sort of passed it off.  Tom got the chicken and I got the eggs (no order - same time) and he went to pay. Tom said "Seriously, do you want me to fix your shoe?  I can."  She looked at me.  "Really.  He can.  He fixes our shoes all the time." I said.  Carefully she said "Okay, but when can I get it back?  I need it back.  I must have it back.  When will you bring it?  AND....No charge, right?"

Tom assured her that he could and would have it back to her in 1 1/2 hours and NO charge.  She reluctantly took off both shoes to give to Tom.  But before handing them to him, she first reached for a plastic bag.  I was about to tell her we could just put her shoes in our bag when she put the bag on her sock covered foot.  Then she took another plastic bag and did the same to the other foot.  I guess she didn't want her socks to get dirty but it seemed to me that wearing plastic bags around over stocking feet might be dangerous.  Why not just take off your socks and go barefoot?  But what do I know.  Or more importantly, what does she know about NOT going barefoot that we don't?  Hum?  
Anyway, Tom fixed both shoes - the other needed help as well - and got them back to her in plenty of time.  She was very happy and quizzed him about his repair techniques.  
Update - We have stopped in a couple of times since to get eggs and or a chicken (not necessarily in that order) and she reports that her Tom repaired shoes are still going strong.