Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Traditional Side of Carriacou

We arrived on Carriacou and have been enjoying the social life of Regatta and the beginnings of Camp Grenada 2016.  Today, with Janice & Dave (Livin' Life) and Sunny & John (Notre Vie) we decided to get ourselves over to the other side of the island and check out the wooden boat building scene.

We are anchored in Tyrrel Bay on the west side of the island, Hillsborough is the main town on the north side and way over on the other side is the little village of Windwardside.  Given that the sun is now directly overhead at noon and it is getting brutally hot, we opted to hop on a local bus and am I glad we did.  All told, the round trip is 28 km and it is hot, hot, hot!

Bus 10 from Tyrrel Bay to Hillsborough and Bus 11 from there to Windwardside.

Back when we were in Antigua for the Classics Regatta we had a chance to view the film Vanishing Sail.  If there's any way you can catch a showing and if you have any interest in island boat building or just a good story, don't miss the chance.  After watching the film we decided that we had to get ourselves over to see the actual building of one of these boats. I don't know if it's a result of the film or whether it was well on it's way before that, but there is a revival of traditional boat-building going on here with the sloops being sold to foreign sailors for racing or tourist excursions.

We found our way along the little beach and arrived in the yard of Anthony McLawrence.  When I say yard, I mean literally in his back yard, with the 64' hulk that he expects to finish by Christmas sitting solidly on the ground behind a fence.  Once the boat is finished the fence will have to come down and then it is just yards to the water.

The bus driver dropped us right on the town dock and we easily found one of the boat building locations, although there were a couple being built at various places in town.

Due to all the reefs and out-islands, houses can be built unusually close to shore on the windward side.

Standing on the dock, we watched a couple of island sloops getting ready for today's race around the island.  They fly these massive mainsails, a jib and a genoa or gennaker, have almost no keel and use men for ballast.

This half-planked boat was the first we found.

64' long and beamy inside.  These boats don't get finished off inside, the ribs will always be exposed, the advantage being things can't roll around too far.

The guys are checking out the planks that are nailed to the ribs with 10" nails.

Most of the wood is local Grenadian but the keel is Greenheart from Guyana - a very solid, heavy wood.

We had the pleasure of meeting Anthony McLawrence, the builder of this particular boat.  He has built 6 or 7 forty-plus footers but this is the largest he has built.

We carried on our exploration of Windwardside, finding another fishing boat being built alongside the road and magnificent views of the islands, including the start of the sloop round-the-island race.

One of the boat-builders featured in the movie owns this house.  It may need a little paint but is pretty none the less and a great example of a local house with gingerbread trim and lace in the windows.

An interesting story here - a memorial to nine boatbuilders who lost their lives in 1945 when a mine drifted to shore from a sinking WWII boat.  The mine exploded and killed the men working on shore nearby.

Petit St. Vincent (left) and Petit Martinique (right) with the sloops racing across the start-line.

Bus stop bench - great use of two pallets!

These guys seemed unperturbed that they were a half-hour late for the start of the race.

Welcoming sidewalk step to a local establishment.  We stopped for cold beers but although the pizza smelled delicious we were on the hunt for roti in Hillsborough.

One last look around Windwardside.  Dave found the site of the building of Genesis, the boat featured in the movie.

Lunch time was coming on and our tummies were empty so we hopped back on a bus to Hillsborough where the streets were bustling and the speakers were pounding out the Soca.  Nothing particularly special going on - just a nice Saturday in town.

Main street and market stands in Hillsborough.

Did we step back in time??  We've also seen signs saying they're licensed to sell Intoxicated liquor - I think I like Spiritous better.

Patti's Deli - a lovely example of traditional Carriacou architecture.

Not the bar we went to, but appropriate for Regatta weekend!

Noon and my shadow is almost directly below me!  We're just above 12N latitude and the sun is tracking south so it's just going to get hotter.

Found it - Sunny & John knew a great place to get roti.  Literally a hole in the wall, just up the stairs past the sign.
After lunch, we wandered onto the beach to watch the goings-on.  Prep for racing, liming(*) with beer, swimming, boats going back and forth to the pier, more liming, kids playing, adults relaxing - all a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Checking out the boats at the pier.

There's something just a little unsettling about watching a laughing gull eating a chicken wing.

We leaned on this guy's boat long enough so he came over to join in the discussion.  Where sailors gather the conversation always comes round to boats and sailing.

Just along the beach a catch of whelks were boiled up.  The 'ladles' are actually the tree-end of two palm fronds and made most excellent scoops.

Visiting Windwardside totally lived up to expectations - laid-back, no fancy demonstration or museum, just people carrying on with their daily lives and bringing back a traditional craft that had it's heyday a hundred years ago.  Perhaps we will be able to find our way back up here for the launch of the boat we saw under construction.

* - Get ready for carnival, here's the dictionary:
Liming:  to hang around and relax, usually shooting the breeze with your buddies and a cold beer.
Chipping:  carnival step - little steps in time to the music
Wining:  another carnival move - a little more licentious and probably after consumption of much rum and beer.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Carnival - St. Lucia Style

We stopped in St. Lucia for a couple of days and it just so happened that when we arrived the local Carnival was underway.  Shops and businesses were closed on Monday & Tuesday afternoons so we decided to join in the fun and took a bus down to Castries, the capital town.  The parade started with true island style about four hours late, but that was okay, it gave us lots of time to try out some of the local street fare:  bits (bakes), fried chicken, cold pitons, roti - all delicious.

Sunny & John from Notre Vie with their guest Dave joined us and we all enjoyed the local scene.

Accras - fish fritters were a hit.

Bits and chicken frying up.  Note the creative use of an old car parts, a wheel hub in the background and a clutch casing forward with charcoal burning under the pots.

Mr. Gilbert meet Mr. Gilbert!

Loved this t-shirt!  Look closely and you'll a bride & groom...

Mocko jumbles got the party started.

Followed by towers of speakers dispelling bone-jarring beats.

These boots are made for walking ... The parade route is over five miles - can you imagine?

Indian princess?

End of the parade and these revellers are just happy to have made it.
Only in the Caribbean, you say!
- the parade route looped around on itself creating a traffic jam within the parade
- one of the many bands had 1500 revellers
- the speaker trucks were too tall to pass under the overhead wires so guys climbed up on top and used sticks to raise the multitude of wires
- we all got an eyeful when an old guy bent over in front of us to pick up old butts from the pavement - he was wearing only a shirt belted at the waist, let me stress, only a shirt.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Loving & Leaving Martinique

Today we made it official, we are finally going to leave Martinique and head a bit further south.  Hard to believe but we checked in at St. Pierre on the 10th of June and it is now the 17th of July!

Despite my inability to pick a "favourite" island a few days ago, Martinique definitely ranks up there and we've made Ste. Anne our home for almost a month now.  What on earth could we have been up to that would keep us in the same spot for so long?  Well, as you may know, I have a fond spot for Pain Chocolat, and certainly enjoy a bottle of French wine now and then, but to be honest it is just the laid-back atmosphere here that is so easy to love.  Add to that, Le Marin is THE place to buy bits and pieces for a French boat and if they don't have what you're looking for in the chandlery, they just order it in for you - from the motherland, across the pond.  24 hour delivery - no problem!

So we've spent our time completing a few little projects, but mostly watching fellow cruisers come and go as they hurry south to make haul-out, visitor arrival and/or insurance deadlines.  We've joined in beach BBQs, multiple hikes and then watched quite a few of the Euro 2016 soccer games in various bars around the bay.

We caught up with old friends from last season in Grenada,  we made new friends on Sula (Lesley & Stu) and Indigo (Kathy & Greg) and last but not least had a reunion with some of the first cruisers we met back up in the BVI in the spring of 2015 - Notre Vie (Sunny & John and their guest Dave).

Enjoying the view from the lighthouse on Cape Caravelle.

Sitting rather precariously on the ledge - boy was it a long way down!

We've now walked miles of coastal paths, especially up the wind-blown east side of the island.

On one expedition to the east side, we stopped for snack and self-picked mangos.  We had a fairly global contingent here:  Tracy & Wayne (South Africa), Lesley & Stu (New Zealand), Peter (Denmark), Kathy & Greg (US) and of course us (Canadian). 

Beach casting with big long rods on a Sunday morning.

The beaches at the southern end of Martinique have picture postcard white sand, palm trees and plenty of space for everyone.

Hiking with Kathy & Greg from Indigo - couldn't resist posing with this one!

And a cold Lorraine after a hot hike never goes amiss.

Unlike many of her neighbouring islands, Martinique is also very pastoral with large herds of cattle in fenced fields.
Getting in one last hike around Salines Beach - this one we like because there's a beer stop not far from the end.  Cold beer, a bit of exercise and great camaraderie - this is what life down here is all about!
We did manage to complete one boat project that is already paying off nicely.  We added one more solar panel over our dinghy davits which ups our capacity to capture the sun's rays a bit later in the afternoon and we are hoping we won't need to run our generator every couple of days to play catch-up on our batteries.

Getting the wiring installed inside the davit tube, ready for installation of the panel.

And there it is, nicely mounted over our davits and angled back just slightly to capture the later afternoon sun.

Of course we're getting into the rainy season so we're very glad of our wind generator that helps fill in when the skies are like this.

Picking up bits and pieces, and keeping the boat stocked with all the French goodness requires trips with the dinghy.  It's about two miles over to Le Marin and if the wind is blowing we either have to pack dry clothes or bundle up in hot rain gear to stay dry.  Nothing worse that standing dripping salt-water all over the chandlery floor!

Join us in the dinghy on this little excursion into Le Marin...

We drive over some crystal-clear waters as we leave the Ste. Anne anchorage - this is one reason why we like it here so much.

In the bay at Le Marin you see all sorts of neat nautical things - including this submersible dock that can lift a catamaran out of the water to have it's bottom painted.

The grocery store, Leader Price, has it's own dock.  There's another dock on the other side of the bay if you prefer to shop at Simply's and another up a creek where you can visit other shops.  All geared to the boater.

As we zip across the bay, we avoid the sailing school Hobie-cats.  These are local kids learning how to sail, not tourists from a resort.

Can you see the boats for all the masts!!  There are hundreds of boats on moorings, at anchor and at docks in this bay.

Arriving at the marina dinghy dock - blue building is a well-stocked chandlery and there's a great bar with TV and wifi just to the right.

Yep, here we are at Mango Bay with Bill & Wendy and James & Pam testing out the beer during the Euro soccer match.

After all our provisioning we trundle home back to Mowzer.  Lorraine beer is a must-buy on Martinique.

Returning to Mowzer, and the last photo of her without her new solar panel on the back.
Well, there you have it, that's what's been keeping us occupied on Martinique.  Tomorrow morning we move on to St. Lucia with a forecast of light winds but hopefully enough to move us along comfortably.