History Log: Season 2005
Amida travels from Trinidad to St Martin and back.
Amida's Sailing season for 2005
Amida is back from being incommunicado! This was due to computer
problems…ever since late January 2005, in the Grenadines!

I should perhaps explain that the reason for our absence is that Marilyn's "electronic
toy" jinx has been alive and well. No, we have not lost the latest camera, nor did
the satphone get dropped again. Better than those, M managed to spill a goodly
part of a glass of wine all over the PC keyboard! Initially, we were hopeful that no
permanent damage would result because, the next day, the machine booted up
quite readily, as though it had recovered from a major hangover. Unfortunately, a
week or so later, it refused to do the same and we had to resort to finding an IBM
PC Dealer who could diagnose and repair the problem. This was determined to be a
damaged motherboard and a replacement had to be obtained from Canada, which
would take two weeks. Our schedule did not allow for this to occur till we were in
Antigua, where we were planning to spend a month. So we had to resort to using
internet cafes for email and for me to write notes, on paper for goodness sakes,
about what to include in this version of the Log. We were also without our e-mail
distribution list and address book, so communication was tough.

I just read through our last log, sent at the New Year, and I can't believe I'm this
far behind. So, gird your loins (whatever that is supposed to mean in this day and
age… maybe, put on your pantyhose if you are a female, or a male with strange
habits), get a pot of coffee going, as this will be a long read!).

It had taken forever for us to be able to leave Trinidad. Work we had contracted to
do on the boat took forever to complete, then came the Christmas and New Year
break, and finally once we and Amida were ready, the weather was not cooperative
for a passage to Grenada. We eventually hooked up with an English boat, a 45ft
Hylas, who was also heading north, and finally left on Jan 23rd, in the late
afternoon. Just before leaving we were able to get stocked up with beer, liquor,
wine, and cigarettes, duty free, which saved a ton of money as well as lowering the
waterline by at least another inch. The exit through the Boca Straights, between
Trinidad and the mainland of Venezuela, was much easier than when we had
motored against the tide and current heading southbound. The waves and swell,
however, were still pretty ugly and choppy. We motored for a while until they
subsided and unfurled the jib. Before exiting the Straights, we'd tried to raise a
reefed mainsail and discovered we'd neglected to tie on the reefing lines when we
had reattached the mainsail, after its period of dormancy during which it was stored
inside the cabin while we were in Toronto! Not a problem, but a bit of an
embarrassment.

The wind direction for our sail to Grenada was very nice, ENE, in a 12 - 22 kn
range. It was wonderful to be on board, sailing, and heading for new adventures.
The Hylas had reefed their sails so we could keep up, but we were able to get some
6.5 to 7kn of boat speed. In fact, we were doing so well that we decided to sail right
past Grenada and target Carriacou instead. Then, when approaching Carriacou, we
decided we could actually make Union Island before nightfall. That was the good
news, the bad news was that when I turned on the KISS wind generator,
supposedly now wired correctly to a new Regulator, its blades spun for a mere 30
seconds and then stopped. Similarly, the radar, whose shorting problem had
apparently been rectified in Trinidad, again blew its fuse, but somehow this occurred
after 4 hours of use, different to previously when the fuse popped immediately it
was turned on. The alternator and its regulator were, however, for the first time
since we had left Toronto some 15 months earlier, now working like a dream.

We discovered that we had not lost our sailing skills despite
having been landlubbers for over 6 months and discovered
with pride, that we could even do a pretty reasonable job
adjusting sail trim at night when the tell-tales could not be seen.
This was a good thing as we could not find the 12v handheld
spotlight we normally used to shed light on the sails. We last
remembered using just before reaching Trinidad but it had
disappeared… strange how that happens so often on a boat.
Some folks create inventory systems on their computers to
tell them where every last screw and washer, or tin of carrots,
is located. The accuracy, I guess, would depend if they always
put things back in the right place… the remaining screws, I
mean, not the half-empty tin of carrots.

Union Island has changed quite a bit in the last few years.
It used to be a little run down and shabby but now, the stores
and produce stalls all seemed smarter and cleaner. The
solitary bank's ATM, unfortunately, refused to accept our
TD Bank cards so we had to resort to taking US dollars from
our stash of hard currency. There were more boats at anchor,
many of them charters rather than cruisers, than we had
previously seen and that led to the inevitable problem of someone setting their
hook what we thought was way too near. It is, I think, the human herding instinct
at play…"gee, if they are OK, then if we are close, then we'll be OK too". Watching
boats raise and lower anchors is always a source of amusement and anecdotes.
Many have the female struggling with the weight of the anchor on the bow while the
male does what he envisions is the more far critical job of steering. I heard one
fellow, obviously forgetting that sound travels well over water, telling his female
partner that she was a bloody fool and that she should do as she was told.
Perhaps she won't be staying as his partner for much longer… Our own anchoring
skills left a little to be desired because we misjudged Amida's windage and I ended
up having to push her off from colliding with a Swedish boat's pulpit, while trying not
to be too distracted by the blonde and bikini clad Swedish lady who was showing
rather a lot of cleavage as she did her part of the pushing some inches away from
my face! That same evening came the unfortunate spillage of wine over the
computer keyboard… making a $5 bottle of duty free wine suddenly cost $1500!

We stayed in the Grenadines, ie Union Island, PSV (where there a resort that
serves a wonderful, and not too expensive dinner, in a restaurant area full of stone
walls, patios, tropical trees and plants), the Tobago Cays, Bequia, and Mayreau, for
almost a month, relaxing and getting re-attuned to the rigours of cruising life. Time
stopped having any meaning, other than I needed to know when to take the dink
into town to watch the odd soccer game. At one bar, I persuaded the owner to
switch channels to the Man U vs Arsenal game and within 15 minutes, a whole
crowd of people had stopped by to watch… and drink. I thought that having been
the cause of such increased patronage might have deserved a bottle of beer on the
house for yours truly, but alas, I had to pay for my own. There are lots of "boat
boys" in the Grenadines, selling "fresh" lobster and fish, bread, and ice bags. One
came by one morning with a lobster held high in his hand and we decided to buy.
He gave us a price that I bartered down and told him to come back later in the day
as we didn't have anywhere to store a live lobster. He came back after lunch and
claimed that the reduced price must have been with some other boat boy, not him.
He said the lobster was 10lbs, which was way too big, but had another one at 7lbs,
which we purchased on a strict condition that he come back before dinner so he
could slaughter it, as neither of us had done such a heinous act before. He gave it
to us in a bag which he tied to the toe rail, so the lobster was submerged. We were
gullible on two counts. He didn't show and the 7lbs was way overstated and more
likely to be 2 or 3 lbs. We took out our largest pot and it was too small. We took
out our Cruisers Guide to Fishing which, strangely, didn't explain how to slaughter
a lobster, so we had to resort to imagination and common sense. Out came the
kitchen knife which I plunged it in the general vicinity between its head and body,
as I don't think lobsters have a neck. It did not die. I repeated the action, and
watched as some fluid dribbled out. It did not die. I took out a rubber mallet and
bashed it on the head several times. It still did not die. Running out of ideas, I took
the knife and severed the tail from the rest of the body. The tail refused to stop
twitching even while I cut the back. Hardy buggers, these lobsters! I think it finally
completely died while on the BBQ… burned to death. Thank God that the
executioners of the middle ages never went through my experience, else being
Hung, Drawn, and Quartered would have been replaced as the ultimately painful
form of death by the new-fangled Stab, Bash, Split, and Burn experience.


Christmas Lunch with Gail and Colin's
family ... it's all about the kids!
Amida is ready to go again!
Coral Cove Marina Trinidad - we like the
dipping pool, helps to beat the heat!
Union Island...Ouch!!!