Saturday, March 29, 2014


I opted for the most basic title for this post instead of the more descriptive "Learning to Use a PC in a Hundred Easy Steps" (since my Mac is no longer working even sporadically) but the process of learning how to actually use said PC has sapped any extra creativity I may have had. Thus.... "Grenada".

We anchored in Prickly Bay and ended up staying for three weeks in the same spot. It was easiest to catch the local buses from the road near Prickly Bay and the other anchorages didn't really draw us.

Dinghy exploration with our buddies Trevor and Lynda
We sailed past several anchorages on our way into Prickly Bay and met up with our friends Trevor and Lynda here. We first connected with them in Carriacou when we spotted their C&C 40 Impulsive in Tyrrel Bay. She and Saralane are sister ships and we spent a few nights in their comfortable company in both anchorages. Trevor is a Trini and Lynda a Canadian; though they lived in Canada for many years Trevor jokes that when he gets as far north as Carriacou the boat automatically turns around and heads south again. Not a fan of cold weather, Trevor.

Fishermen behind the boat in Prickly Bay
Early on we bused into town to check things out, poke around the shops and wander the very hilly streets.
Handmade batiks at Art Fabrik in St George

Sendall Tunnel, for cars and pedestrians, connects the two parts of the hilly town
Another day we caught a bus north to Belmont Estates to see the Grenada Chocolate Factory which prides itself on it's "tree to bar" locally grown and locally produced chocolate. The chocolate here is GOOD. Really good. Here's a quick photo tour...

Our enthusiastic guide Meeschak starts us at the cacao tree
The pods are harvested and the beans are fermented in bins, then dried on huge racks both inside a greenhouse and outside in racks that roll back under the greenhouse for protection during wet weather.  

Fermenting under leaves and burlap
Beans drying inside
Handful of beans
Meeschak rolled out this rack of beans for us to see

And then rolled it back in!
I got to "walk the cocoa" (aka: shuffle through the cocoa) while he had the rack out... which is how the fermented beans are kept separated while they're drying.

Walking the cocoa

Drummers keep the beat while workers walk the cocoa.
They ran a pretty informative video on a loop before and after tours here and gave everyone copious amounts of different chocolate to try. We bought our share of Grenada chocolate in the little shop here before we left which I'm hoarding on the boat.

Beans I bought and roasted. The papery outer layer comes off and voila... cocoa nibs.
I may not share....

Nearby was the River Antoine Rum factory that we toured too. Almost all the work here is still done by hand and it was hot, sweaty and not especially safe looking work.

Sugar cane on the conveyor belt headed for the crusher

Water from the river runs the wheel to power the conveyor belt and crusher

Standing by with a machete at the top of the conveyor to whack at any stalks that aren't cooperating

An attempt at safety...this worker tied a cloth around his face to keep from inhaling the residue from the cane waste he's burning.
Vats of hot sugar cane juice.....
.... ferment in big open pits.

Our guide Mavis, who has clearly done this tour one too many times, finished up the tour by pouring some of River Antoine's finest for us to taste. We cautiously sniffed the fiery samples she poured and she barked, "Don't play with it! Just drink it!" Yes ma'am. 

Do what Mavis says.... or else!
Boat projects, errands (like finding a Mac repair place) and other work kept us close to the anchorage more than we expected but we did get out for a few hikes... first to Mt Qua Qua, the second highest peak on the island, and then to Concord Falls just up the west coast and inland a bit. Busing to both took a little patience and a lot of faith in the drivers and the expertise of the auto mechanics that work on the buses.

Like a lot of the islands, buses are just big mini vans that don't leave the station until there's no breathing room left inside. If you catch a bus outside of the stations or the bus stops you almost have to jump in while they're still moving because the drivers can be heavily fined if they're caught picking up passengers anywhere other than stations or stops.

In Grenada most buses also had a conductor, which is just a fancy way of describing the surly teenage boys that sat by the sliding door to let people in and out and collect the small fees for riding. It was up to them to drum up business and each one had a different technique. Mostly they just yelled out the window to everyone "heywhereyougoingwhereyougoing?goingtoStGeorge?needabus?needabus?takethebus!
comecomehurryhurrygetingetin!" The drivers would screech to a halt, back up at random, take meandering high speed detours to buy food from street vendors or do some grocery shopping, pick up and drop off friends and school kids, all while blaring their favorite music at top volume.

Bus station in St George
My photo doesn't begin to capture the chaotic energy of the bus station, or the noise or dust or heat. Nor does it capture the pleading sound of the young preacher who was always there waving his tattered bible and imploring riders and passersby to come to Jesus. I'll bet he's gotten some converts too.... namely people who've made it off the bus after an especially hair raising trip. The roads are steep and windy and more than once I found myself wishing the driver would pay more attention to the road than to his cell phone.
This driver's got religion...
But, I digress. Back to hiking. Our bus dropped us at Grand Etang where we picked up the  Mt Qua Qua trail head. About an hour and a half of uphill hiking brought us to the top of the peak and gave us some fabulous views and cool breezes.

Looking back at Grand Etang
Looking east toward Africa!
Fork in the road

Set self timer... hurry to get in photo without tripping and falling.
 I caught up on my flora shots along the way...

Fern, curled.

I'd love to have an ID on this funky pod/blossom
The clouds rolled in as we reached the top of Mt Qua Qua and we sat in the mist until it cleared before retracing our steps to the bottom. Two bus rides later we were back at the anchorage.

Since this has apparently turned into a mega-blog (sorry for not giving fair warning) I'll just carry on and finish up with all things Grenada while I'm on a roll.

More hiking.... another day and another bone rattling couple of bus rides and we were on our way to hike to Concord Falls. It was an easy hike that took us through farmland and across several streams. The farms were small and neat and rows of herbs, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, beans, callaloo, potatoes and dasheen shared space with all kinds of trees; cacao, bananas, nutmeg, carambola, cashew, avocado, mango, soursop, breadfruit and more. Like in Dominica... food falls from the sky here.

Yet another photo of cacao pods growing. Can't get enough of them.


Lone papaya on the way to Concord Falls


Concord Falls is really three waterfalls and we went to the second one, called Au Coin. It's a peaceful lovely waterfall and we spent our time there in the quiet company of a local guy who came to just sit and enjoy the simple beauty of it. 


Had enough of Grenada for now? I'm not sure we have but it seemed like time to move on so we sailed up the west coast and after a stop to snorkel the overrated (really... don't bother going there) underwater park in Dragon Bay, we spent the night in Halifax Harbor. Halifax Harbor is where the island's trash gets um.... deposited and burned. Okay... fine... it's where the dump is.  And not only is the dump there, but there are power lines strung across the shores making it impossible to tuck in to the harbor unless your mast is less than the guestimated 60 feet. And really... are you willing to take that chance?

We snugged up to the north shore and had a really quiet night. What with the dump and the power lines.... of course we were the only ones there!

Can't.... breathe.... underwater..

Praying to be released from the underwater park
The upside? In a marine park, the fish are much more plentiful.

Village on the west coast

Pretty (and odor free) Halifax Harbor. Note the power lines at 60ish feet above the water.
So in a (giant) nutshell.... that's our time in Grenada. As always I've left out a lot and probably included too many photos of cacao pods, but I'm more or less caught up. We've started heading north and are currently in Bequia where a big north swell has made it's way down and is rocking and rolling all the boats in the anchorage. We'll stay another day or so and then continue on north....

Monday, March 10, 2014

Centerboard Solutions

I know our followers have been anticipating a follow up on our centerboard saga.  Some more than others – you know who you are.

To recap, the 1/4” stainless steel cable that we use to raise and lower the centerboard broke back in the Bahamas in 2011.  We have been sailing since then with the board pinned in the “up” position. Because there are no drawings of the cable attachment design, we have been limited to a trial and error approach, learning a bit more about the design (and repair) when we haul and launch Saralane annually.  Now finally (at least since we launched in Antigua last fall) we are up and running – and what a difference the board in the “down” position makes!  Weighing in at about 800 pounds, it really makes a stability difference when lowered – not to mention it helps our upwind performance.  The depth of Saralane is 8’6” with the board down, and 4’9” with it up – when we are at rest. 
The raise/lower design is poor at best, due to the fact that the cable attaches very close to the pivot point.  The result is a huge amount of force needed to tension the cable and lift the 800 pound board.  From the attachment point on the centerboard, the cable runs vertically up through the cabin in a stainless steel conduit, through the cabin top, over a sheave, and then horizontally aft to a winch.  A 4:1 block and tackle is also incorporated to increase the mechanical advantage.

Stainless Steel Pipe with cable running inside up to deck
Cable exits pipe, runs over the sheave and along the deck

Cable turning aft to cockpit
Cable connecting to 4:1 purchase

Finally led to the winch (black line).

When the board is down there is little or no tension in the system as it is essentially hanging on the pivot pin.  However, when the board is up (which is most of the  time) – everything is banjo tight.  Most worrisome is the huge compression that is put on the cabin structure where the cable turns from vertical to horizontal, behind the mast and along the deck.  Other C&C 40s with this centerboard arrangement have elaborate owner inspired bracing systems for the cabintop compression.  We too are considering ways to oppose this compression, without much luck, but have settled on a tropical, warm water solution.

When we had the board pinned up all was well and we could release the tension on the cable and let the pin do the work - but the pin was very difficult to insert/remove.   Now  we use a simple short length of spectra line with a loop spliced at each end. 
Made up Spectra strap
Spectra is fantastically strong (like steel) and easy to work with.  When we were preparing to launch last November in Antigua, I drilled and tapped the keel (port and starboard) and inserted 3/8” machine screws with bolt heads on each side so that the heads were well exposed.  I made up the spectra strap to just the right length so one loop hooked over one bolt, then passed under the keel, and then the second loop hooked on the oppsite side – simple, soft, and easy to do. 
Strap looped over bolt heads
When we're settled in an anchorage after sailing, the board is raised with the cable and one of us dives under with the spectra and hooks it on. 
Spectra "sling " in place
Then we release the cable and the centerboard drops a bit and rests in the spectra “sling”.  We reverse the proccess when we head out.  If we have a downwind sail ahead of us we don’t bother as the board doesn’t contribute anything on that point of sail.
We have one more bit of centerboard maintenance to do.  While in Guadeloupe last fall, we were in a rather rolly anchorage (Pigeon Island) so we put the board down to dampen the roll. It did help, however, during the night the wind died and we spun around, causing the anchor chain to rub against the front of the centerboard and wear a chunk out of it.  Nothing serious, but one more thing to tend to.  The board is solid fiberglass up there, so I’m not worried about water intrusion.  However, it will need a good drying before patching, so when we haul out this summer, we will just let it dry for a few months, then patch it before we launch in the fall.

The board down with a chunk out of it.
Close up of the "bite!"
So at the end of the day all of the centerboard hype boils down to a 12 inch piece of rope - we like to keep things simple.  All of this effort would be moot if we were able to enjoy the mythical “downwind sailing” we have heard about, but now we are ready for anything.