Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ostracods Night Dive

When we first arrived in Bonaire several people told us that we had to do the Ostracod dive.
"Ok, but what is it?"
"A fabulous light show underwater"

Monday, December 4, 2017

Chocolate and Rum

Chocolate and rum, a winning combination.  This was the second half of Cutty's tour, the Grenada Chocolate Company and the Rivers Rum distillery.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cutty's tour in Grenada

As we were preparing to leave Grenada, I made a list of things that I hadn't done yet but wanted to do before we left. High on that list was a Cutty's tour.  Cutty is a Grenadian who leads custom tours all over Grenada. He came so highly recommended that I was a little skeptical that he would live up to the hype, but he certainly did. The man is an encyclopedia of knowledge about the flora, fauna and history of Grenada.



Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sinterklaas in Bonaire

What a grand way to experience Santa in a different culture. This morning Sinterklaas arrived in Bonaire. The traditional story is that he arrives by boat from Spain (slightly more plausible if you are in Europe ) with his companions Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), disembarks and gets on his white horse and rides through the town. Bonaire has put its own twists on the story.



Shortly before 9 this morning two tugboats appeared in the bay, water cannons firing.


When they arrived at the main pier they both made three turns in place, drums playing and the Zwarte Piet dancing.


They were very obviously enjoying themselves.


The roads were filled with children awaiting the arrival.  Many were dressed up as either Sinterklaas 


Or versions of Zwarte Piet. Apparently there have been many a discussion about the racial overtones of the blackface of the Zwarte Piet with some now changing the story to say the black is from the chimney soot as they are the ones who go down the chimney to deliver the toys.


Loved this display of affection! 

We found a great spot to observe the arrival, carefully avoiding blocking any children. (Photo credit to Ziggy MacKenzie )


Until this guy came and stood right in front of me and ignored my requests for him to move slightly to one side. (More on him later!)


Sinterklaas has disembarked.


And made his way through security. ..It seemed pretty easy for someone coming all the way from Spain! 


Luckily there were special Security forces on duty. With official dinosaur  underwear.


The Bonarian version of the white horse for Sinterklaas is the black train.

Complete with the Bonaire flag.

Sinterklaas boarded the train, along with many children and made their way through town, with a slight hitch. Remember the guy who stood in front of me? He also stood in front of the train, stopping it so he could take pictures.  Finally one of the Zwarte Piet guided him to the side of the street so that Sinterklaas and his train could proceed.


The parade continued through town...




Kids of all ages



Even those who are trying to be cool.


As I took this photo I was frustrated with the fact that the balloons got in the way. It wasn't until I was reviewing the photos later that I saw my friend Ziggy was there on the left. I hadn't realized that she was near me at that point of the parade. Photobombing! 


At the end of the parade Sinterklaas left the train, accompanied by a Zwarte Piet, and went down a path to the children's carnival area, at which point we decided to depart.


Decorations seen around town.



Welcome Sinterklaas! 


The Christmas season has begun in Bonaire with more festivities to follow.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Bonaire- turquoise and sapphire

Bonaire is a aquaphile's version of heaven. Because it is a desert island the water surrounding it is phenomenally clear as there are no rivers flowing into the ocean bringing in the runoff. Boats are not allowed to anchor here, to protect the reefs, so Bonaire has set up a mooring field for the boats.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Passage to Bonaire

Don't leave port on a Friday, it's bad luck. Don't have bananas on the boat, it's bad luck, and sailors long felt that having a woman on board was bad luck (their loss!). We left Grenada on a Friday, made it Friday the 13th just for good measure,  a full weeks supply of bananas,  and I decided that I would go along as well.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Happy Splashiversary

It was one year ago today that we became full time liveaboards, and what a year it has been! We have met some amazing people (and if you are reading this and we met you this year, yes I am referring to you!), went some interesting and exotic new places and had some wonderful adventures. We have learned so much this year and are looking forward to future years on life on Rhapsody.
One year ago!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Hiking and Hashing

Lush green hills, beautiful waterfalls, exotic flora and fauna. Wonderful reasons to hike around Grenada. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Underwater Sculpture Park

As divers we were familiar with the underwater sculptures in Grenada. They were actually one of the first underwater sculpture parks. We were looking forward to experiencing it ourselves.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Learning a new sail

When we bought Rhapsody she came with a spinnaker.  What is a spinnaker?  It is the big colorful sail you see in pictures of sailboats. They are wonderful to look at, unfortunately they require a lot of hardware and knowledge to get them flying properly. We had never put up our spinnaker, and we had many questions about the details of rigging it.  We were very fortunate to run into Jamie Gifford from S/V Totem. Ok, when I say ran into it sounds rather random. In actuality we (I) had been stalking them, and knew exactly where they were, you see I have been following this family of 5 on their blog for about 6 years now tracking their circumnavigation.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Free food

The fruits and vegetables on many of these tropical islands are abundant.  We took a hike on Tobago from Charlotteville to Fort Cambleton  and although there was not much left of the fort the views were spectacular. 
Looking out over Man-O-War Bay

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Columbus Day Thoughts from Grenada

Columbus day has taken on a very different feeling from when I was growing up. When I was in elementary school we were taught about Columbus "discovering " America, how he was trying to prove that the world was not flat and we happily made drawings of the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Turtles in Tobago

One of the things that has been very high on my list of things to do has been turtle watching. We almost took a tour in Grenada to watch the turtles laying eggs, but we backed out due to weather and health issues, so it remained on my list.
This is a nighttime story, so I was unable to get pictures. Therefore I have included a picture that I did instead.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Now what?

I know it is not all about me, and I know that people are still suffering, their lives in limbo, their possessions trashed, however I have to accept that life goes on and it is time to make new plans.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Holy Cow!

I wanted to wait a bit before returning to our happy posts, partially just feeling sad for places I love and the people in them, partially feeling some survivors guilt (that could so easily have been us) and partially feeling bad about posting happy experiences when others are struggling so much. I was ready to share some more of our wonderful experiences when Hurricane Maria appeared.
Maria

Sunday, September 10, 2017

So sad

First of all, we are safe and Rhapsody is safe, we are well south of the dangers of Hurricanes Irma and Jose. But we are sad. Watching the devastation in the islands north of us. Islands that we know well. Islands that we have friends in, or islands that our friends have boats in. We have heard from or about most of them, they are safe,and their boats are safe, but we have a few friends that are still waiting on the news of their boats, their homes. And now Irma is headed north, towards more family and friends. Sadness and worry. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Pirate's Cove

Tucked into the NE corner of Tobago is a quiet little cove called Pirate's Bay. The town is Charlotteville, a sleepy little fishing village. There are a dozen boats here. Three or four of them are French, one is from Switzerland,  another from Brazil, one from Russia (first one we have seen, hailing port Moscow, a wee bit landlocked), one from the UK, one from Canada, a few unknowns and one US (Rhapsody). Three blue hulls, two red hulls , one yellow hull and the rest are white. Three of the boats have kids, all seemingly pre-teen and all of them are long term cruisers (not charters).

Rhapsody is one of those boats!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Carib Great Race

Store Bay was our port of arrival in Tobago. It is a lovely bay with several beaches frequented by vacationing Trinidadians.  There were only a handful of sailboats there when we arrived, but the atmosphere soon changed. A large powerboat anchored near us, blaring music at 7 AM,
Our new neighbor


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

So, How do you like Tobago?

This is a question we were asked repeatedly our first few days here, and it was difficult to answer as our first 4 days were spent traveling back and forth from our anchorage in Store Bay on the west side of the island over to Tobago's largest town of Scarborough on the east side of the island.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

On to Tobago

There are certain areas, countries and islands that attract cruisers. Communities develop, activities are set up, friendships are quickly developed. St. Martin and Grenada are two of those places that we have visited. Places like these are great spots to get repairs or upgrades done to your boat and to replenish your emotional/friendship needs. We certainly took advantage of all of these. With the benefits of these countries also comes the difficulty of leaving them, knowing you will be traveling without other companions and going to places that are less well equipped for cruisers, but leaving the comfort zone is how we discover new places, experience new things, meet new people and have new stories to tell. We made the decision to leave Grenada and head 75 miles SE to Tobago, the smaller of the two islands that make up the country Trinidad and Tobago.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Rivers and Laura and Rhapsody

We had the pleasure of sharing our adventures with Rivers and Laura at the end of their epic trip to Southeast Asia. Admittedly they were a little burned out, having been traveling for three months. We tried to make their time here easy on them, at least they didn't have to keep packing up and moving from place to place.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Night Passage

This is a blog post I wrote but never posted. It is about about our first overnight passage, from BVI to St. Maarten back in January. 

5 PM We release the mooring lines to begin our trip to St. Maarten, the Dutch portion of St. Martin /St. Maarten.
6:00 The sun is setting off of our starboard stern. We are rewarded with a bit of a green flash to celebrate our journey.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Oh Don, we barely knew ye

Tropical Storm Don, headed straight for Grenada,  the second named storm aiming for Grenada already this Hurricane season, the fourth named storm in the Atlantic overall. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

All clear

Tropical Storm Bret has come and gone and we are safe and dry.

Bret took the most southern route predicted and passed below Trinidad and Tobago. There were some strong winds all the way up to where we were in Canouan, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but we were never in danger.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

The storm's a'comin'

And we're a'runnin'

Invest 92L is the system we are watching. Invest is short for Investigation and it designated a weather feature that the Hurricane Center is watching. The numbers run from 90 to 99 and then start again. The L stands for atLantic.

92L is not a named storm but could develop into one and it is headed to Grenada.

The colors on the chart above for Tuesday are new colors to us. The highest number is 61 knots.  Pretty as it is, it is a color I would rather not see!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Preparation for a passage

Note: This is out of sequence.  This post was written in January before our passage to Sint Maarten 
-----------------------------------
Our first night passage, our first passage over three hours, our first passage out of sight of land and we need to get ready for it. We are fortunate enough to have veteran cruisers Mike and Robin on Mermaid helping us and crossing with us. They have 15 years of cruising under their belts, have made many passages and are a wealth of knowledge for us.


Here is an annotated list of what we were preparing :

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Picture Story in Carriacou

A picture story of a hike in Carriacou, Grenada


What are these strange things on my feet? Where are my toes? We spend most of our days barefoot, sandals when we go to town, and these full foot enclosures only come out for hikes.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Grenada is our Ithaka

Grenada has been our goal for many months now. We launched Rhapsody in November with the general plan of heading to Grenada for the hurricane season.  We have been reading about Grenada as a place that many people leave their boats during hurricane season, sometimes staying with their boats and sometimes flying to other places to return during the next cruising season. A large part of the reason that people do this is insurance. Many insurance companies have rules about where you have to be during hurricane season.  In the Caribbean there is a "hurricane box", the area in which you are not covered by insurance.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

Laundry wars

There are some things about living on a boat that are just not simple. Laundry is high on that list. Back in my former life laundry was once a week, throw it in the washer,  go do something else, come back in a while, throw it in the dryer. It was in my house, I could do laundry as a passing thing, pass by the washer- is it done? Move it on. Laundry is not so simple now.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Shopping on small islands can be a challenge!

I enter the small dark building. There is one room, about 400 sq. feet. The lighting is very dim and the ceiling is low. There are two sets of shelves going one direction, and another two sets perpendicular to these. The shelving units are about 4 feet high with three shelves on each. There are a few shelves along two of the walls, and a cooler on a third wall. The cashier is sitting behind a counter along the fourth wall, by the door. This is a typical "Supermarket" that we have been encountering for the last two months, ever since we left Martinique.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Double Dumb, Double Danger

First we heard the crunch, then we heard the yelling, but somehow we were not surprised.

We had sailed from Petit St. Vincent , the southernmost point of the Grenadines, to a neighboring islet and reef, Mopion, for some swimming and snorkeling. Mopion is and reef encircled sand spit 1/2 mile off of Petit St. Vincent offering clear waters, extensive reefs and a tiny but idyllic spit for a lunch stop.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Johnny Depp was here...and so were we

Not exactly at the same time, however. Petit Tabac was where Elizabeth set fire to Jack Sparrow's rum in the Pirates of the Caribbean.
The same beach. I think Bob is hoping that not all the rum casks were burned!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Iconic Tropical Paradise

White sand, turquoise waters, uninhabited islands ringed by palm trees. Imagine your iconic "Tropical Paradise " and you have the Tobago Cays.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Starry Starry Night

When it is not cloudy, and when the moonlight doesn't get it the way, the stars here are amazing. When we lived in Oregon, Bob and I often liked to stargaze and identify stars, planets and constellations. While we are getting better at it, we are still very much at the novice stage.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Chatam Bay..a friendly refuge



After topping off our water and quick goodbyes to the friendly and helpful staff of Glossy Point Marina, we headed for Saline Bay on the island of Mayreau. We heard there was a regatta and beach party scheduled for that day, and were hoping to go ashore, take in some of the festivities, try for some local fresh produce, and remain overnight. We'd been told that the noise was not too loud or went too late, but shortly after we arrived at noon a beach bar acting as regatta central began blasting music and announcements with ear shattering volume..and we were at least 600 yds. away. Our hull was literally vibrating from the bass and it felt like someone was broadcasting from a boat that had just pulled alongside. I guess when you rent the big bank of speakers for the day, and you're a young rappin DJ it's a matter of might makes right....So we ate a quick lunch and checked the charts and headed off to the next island south...Union Island. We passed by a smaller and crowded bay on the northwest corner and continued down the leeward, or western side and around a small headland into Chatam Bay.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Marina all to ourselves

No other boats in a marina built for 120 boats.
All alone.
How nice.

Glossy Point Marina opened two weeks before we arrived, or as the manager said "It was a soft opening" with the aim of a big celebration at the beginning of the next cruising season in November. It is located on the island of Canouan in the Grenadines.

When we arrived the entire staff was on the dock to assist us with the lines. We docked right in front of their office and bathhouse facilities. Everything is brand spanking new, or still under construction.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Musings on Safety

Safety and security. It really is a subjective matter. When do you feel safe and secure? When do you feel threatened. I grew up in a house that was never locked, and I carried that habit through to our house in Florence. We did not lock the house on a daily basis, but only when we were going on vacation, at which point we usually had to search for a key. We felt we were in a very safe neighborhood. Did our neighbor feel safe? Probably.  Did they lock their doors? Probably.
Putting our dinghy "Melody" up on the hip for security 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Newly Salted, Rhapsody at 6 months

Newly Salted is a website that posts interviews of cruisers that have been cruising for less than two years. I read all of these interviews before we started cruising, and dreamt of the time when I could be a part of this project. Now we have officially been cruising for 6 months and I am excited to be able to participate.

A little about us: We are Bob and Sarah aboard Rhapsody, our 49' Jeanneau Sun Odyssey. We sold off our belongings in Oregon and began cruising in November of 2016. We bought Rhapsody in the BVI and that is where we began our journey through the Caribbean. You can follow our story at rhapsodyontheblue.com

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Turtle Sanctuary in Bequia

Hawksbill turtles are beautiful and critically endangered.  They have a very distinctive pattern on their shells which is what made them so highly valued. These are the turtles that have their shells commonly sold as "tortoiseshell " for such things a jewelry,  combs and ornamentation.

In Bequia  (Beck-way) we had the chance to visit the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary where one man is trying to help save the Hawksbill.


You can see the distinctive head giving rise to the name.