Monday, October 27, 2008

Back In Grenada

Clarks Court Bay, Grenada
12 00.5N 61 44.1W

We left Tobago last week and had an incredible sail across to Grenada. The wind was just strong enough, the angle perfect and every squall (and there were many) passed either passed in front or behind us - we are bound to pay for it one day! We made the 75 mile trip in 10 hours, hitting 9 knots for a while as Matsu tore along.

We have spent a great week here so far. We really liked Grenada during our brief visit on the way south and we instantly felt at home on our return. The people are incredibly friendly, the island not dominated by tourism, the landscape rolling and green.

Last time we only got to anchor in Prickly Bay so we are keen to try some others out this time. First port of call was Clarks Court bay for the work boat regatta, we passed a great day in the cockpit watching the boats sail around.

We will spend a few weeks here while the hurricane season fades away, the anchorages are safe and well protected barring an Ivan style direct hurricane hit. We have a couple of minor things to do, service the engine etc plus explore more of this wonderful island and then we will be all set for the new season and sailing north.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

All By Ourselves

Englishman's Bay, Tobago
11 17.3N 60 40.3W

If you listen to the tourists, the Caribbean is crowded and ruined, and you should have been here 10-20 years ago, so we are not quite sure how we have just managed to spend a whole week in this perfect bay completely by ourselves!

The bay has a huge white sand beach at its head that is lined with palm trees and cliffs on the other 2 sides. Under the cliffs is fringing reef for great snorkeling and diving (we even found a lobster) and the whole bay is calm and well protected!

The only drama for us here was watching Hurricane Omar form to our west and then back track east for a few days before it finally set off towards the Virgins. Never any real danger, but added spice to checking the morning emails as we tracked its progress.

So what do you do in a deserted bay for a week, nothing much and it was great. Reading, swimming, snorkeling, diving and having an afternoon nap or two and suddenly the week was gone!

We moved back to Store Bay yesterday and then drove right round the island today exploring some of the bits we have missed with our sailing. Great water falls and rainforest, but in a country that takes a few hours to drive round we knew we had already seen the highlight.

We will clear customs tomorrow and head up to Grenada, a passage of 75m.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Where Are We?

Back by popular demand (or Duncan Farley, but I'm sure he spoke for all of you) a map. Follow the "Where Is Matsu" link in the Links section to see a Google Map of where we are and where we have been. You can change the map to satellite, or open it in Google Earth as you see fit!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Friends & Cruising

We have great friends. Lots of them date back to our University days and before. It’s a fact of life that with a busy lifestyle, demanding work, family matters and established social networks one doesn’t have much time to develop new friendships along the way.

The cruising lifestyle however brings a multitude of opportunities to meet new people and develop great friendships. We usually spend good quality time with each other and one big common subject – The Boat – makes for easy chat up lines and hours of conversation. It’s not all sundowners and parties but the sometimes hostile and always new environment brings a sense of community where ever we are. We have made great friends in the last few years, people we are and will stay in touch with where ever our respective travel plans take us.

In 2006 we were back in Sydney after 2 years of cruising in Australia to replenish the cruising kitty. Work was the name but friends were the game. How good it was to catch up with our best friends after 2 years, to see how the kids had grown up and share many weekends with them all. The most pleasant surprise was how many new great friends we added to the select list that year. Not sure if it was us bringing the “cruising” attitude to land or the fact that we just came across a particularly fine vintage of people but we have tied some very solid knots. People we love and, the ultimate test, people we can easily and pleasantly spend days with on a boat!

We love having friends and family on board, it gives us a chance to be on holiday and not do any boat maintenance! (except the odd blocked toilet!)

Last cruising season (2007-2008) we had the pleasure to spend some good quality time with friends and family from all over. Will from Sydney, Josette, Christian & Julia from Montreal, Barbara & Craig from New-York & Linda’s folks, Paule & Louis from Montreal, Kate, Roger, Abbie & Georgie from Philadelphia, Mike, Liz, Rosie, Charlotte & Katy from Warwick, plus Neil & Hwei Ying from Fiji.

It looks like the new season will be just as exciting, as well as traveling with our old cruising friends and meeting new ones, we almost have a full calendar with the overseas visitors. We have already had Emma and Ashton from Sydney, who came to join us in Tobago on their way to their holidays in Cuba. (It does show how Australians have no idea of traveling distances!!). We’re expecting Josette in November, Sarah for Christmas, the Wilsons for New Year, the Paule & Louis in Feb, and the Farleys at Easter, as well as a couple of possibles still being finalised.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

That's More Like It!

Store Bay, Tobago
11 09.4N 60 50.6W

After 3 months living on a boat in the Caribbean without a swim this is more like it!

We left Trinidad at first light and discovered that we had such a huge ball of barnacles on our propeller that we couldn't motor! So after studiously avoiding getting wet in diesel coated Chaguaramas Bay during our long stay, I had to don mask and snorkel and jump over the side for 20 minutes of chipping barnacles off - all before my coffee and toast.

The rest of the trip was superb, despite dire predictions of 2 knot counter currents and head winds we had a superb sail in flat calm water and gentle winds, making the whole trip on one tack straight into the bay here. The anchor was barely down before our first swim!

Since then we have had a snorkel on the reef and then 2 days of lashing rain and thunderstorms as a "tropical wave" passed over head. Today though is sunny and warm so back in the sea.

First impressions of Tobago are that it is gorgeous - clean, friendly people and lots of white sand. We have two friends coming for a couple of days and then we will head off to explore the island a bit more.
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