Saturday, January 7, 2017

1978 - Grenada - Part 1

Tropic Moon in her boat slip at Grenada Yacht Services

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

Grenada - called the Isle of Spice.  Beautiful land of white, sandy beaches, lush tropical rain forest, brilliantly colored flowers and aromatic spices.  St. George’s, the red-roofed capital of Grenada, surrounds and overlooks a large deep-water harbor.  A lagoon off the southern part of the harbor provides one of the two largest anchorages on Grenada, and is also the location of Grenada Yacht Services, Tropic Moon's home when we bought her.  Tropic Moon was one of the old-timers at GYS (about twelve years).  She had one of the more prestigious slips near the head of the dock, as well as her own mailbox in the GYS office. 

Grenada is in orange, lower right-hand corner.  A long ways from home...

December 1, 1978

This is my fourth day in Grenada and I’m getting settled in.  The boat is really a mess!  Ed spends most of his time tearing things apart.  He’s ripped out most of the cabinets and woodwork in the galley and head.  The first night was pretty miserable because it rained; water was dripping in three places on my bunk.  I keep a bucket near my pillow to take care of the worst leak.  The situation won’t be corrected until the new decks are on. 

I ordered the teak for the new decks before I left Florida.  We’re waiting to see how they’ll ship it down, and how long it will be before that happens.  The crates we had shipped from New York arrived a week ago.  Customs is taking forever to clear them, so we can’t get into them yet.  Ed and Sam (Tropic Moon's captain) will try again today.  We can’t use electricity because there’s a short somewhere in the system, and Ed can’t check for it because the voltmeter is in the shipment.  That means its dark after 6:00 p.m., so no reading or playing cards.  We’re usually in bed by 8:00 p.m.

The lift for haul-outs is broken, and they’re trying to get some parts from the States.  There are about five other boats besides Tropic Moon waiting for a haul-out.  Of course, we weren’t ready anyway because our anti-fouling paint is in one of the crates.  The people who were supposed to build our dinghy were bull of BS, and now we don’t know how we’ll get one.  We were advised the best way to get a dinghy is to steal one, and I have my eye on a nice one that’s kept on the dock.  (Just kidding!)  There aren’t any used fiberglass dinghies for sale.

The ironwork behind the wood in the galley and head was rusted out.  We have a welder working on that (when he shows up).  There’s no Laundromat, so I’m already doing laundry in a bucket.  Ed had saved two weeks of dirty clothes for me!  I hang the clothes to dry on the safety lines, which are really too low.  We’ll put up some clotheslines in the rigging.

I went into town by myself my second day here.  I had a rather lengthy list of things like clothespins, contact paper, cleaning supplies, etc.  I found almost everything on my list.  I also picked up some Christmas cards.  I had trouble finding anything that represented Grenada.  I wasn’t about to send snow scenes from the tropics!

Yesterday, the boat that had been next to us (permanently moored), moved down two slips.  I was curious as to why, so I went and asked.  The people on Mary B live on Grenada and keep their boat in the marina.  Frank said they had been waiting for a bigger slip to come available, and it finally had.  He said he worried every time he came into the slip because of Tropic Moon’s wide beam. 

Frank invited us for drinks at his house.  We went by taxi about 5:30 p.m. so we could see the view before dark.  It was really fantastic!  They live on a very steep hill overlooking the beaches and ocean.  After dark, you can see the lights from St. George’s in the distance.  Frank and Lillian are older, with grown children.  We met another couple, Hugh and Sue.  They’re from Australia, and sailed here by way of the Indian Ocean and around South Africa!  Their boat is not more than 30’ long.  When they continue home to Australia, it will be by way of the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean.  They’ve been here five months.  Hugh has a job, and is working to beef up the cruising kitty. 

Through Hugh, we met Jack and Jane.  Hugh works with them on a large motor yacht, Kalizma.  This boat is parked across the pier from us.  It is really huge – must be close to 150’ long.  It belonged to Elizabeth Taylor when she was married to Richard Burton.  Kalizma is being completely renovated.  The yacht has lights that run from stem to stern, and across the top of two masts.  At night it is lit up like a Christmas tree.  Jack is the skipper of Kalizma.  It has quite a large crew, including a full-time cook.  We’re going to get a tour. 

Yesterday another boat moved into the slip next to us.  I met one of the men, Keith.  He and Peter just sailed here from England.  They made a one-night stop in Barbados and then came on to Grenada.  Their boat looks to be about 38’ long.  It sounded like they had a good crossing.  Everybody makes it sound so easy!  Keith said they had hired a crew of four, but they all quit before the start of the trip, so Keith and Peter made the passage alone. 

December 12, 1978

We were standing on the dock last week, in front of Tropic Moon, when Ed noticed the top of the mizzenmast was leaning to one side.  Sam hadn’t noticed, and, apparently, neither had the man who surveyed our boat!  In any case, it wasn’t included in his report. 

The mizzenmast is out of the boat now.  We went alongside Kalizma, and people used a block and tackle system to pull out the mast.  When you need help, everyone pitches in.  There were about ten guys hauling on the rope.  As the mast lifted up, Ed put Tropic Moon in gear and drove out from underneath the mast.  As they were lifting the mast, it hit Kalizma, and the top broke off.  The mast turned upside down, and lots of water poured out of it.  It seems there was some blockage in the mast - which is hollow - and the water was being held inside, causing the wood to rot.  It looks like most of the rot is near the top of the mast; the marine carpenters should be able to repair it.  Sam is working on it today, removing the paint so they can assess the damage. 

We haven’t had our haul out yet, but should go either this week or next.  I watched them lower a large boat yesterday.  The lift seems to work like an elevator.  The boat stays on the platform, so the yard can only work on one boat at a time.  I’m anxious to see what Tropic Moon’s bottom looks like.  Things were so bad down there; we had to hire a diver to clean the propeller so we could motor over to Kalizma to pull the mizzenmast.

I’ve done quite a bit of unpacking.  I think I’ve got all of the galley and household stuff out of the locker.  We seem to have plenty of storage space on the boat.  Most of what’s left in the locker is cans of paint, the sails, rope, and other boat equipment. 

Ed is working on the galley today.  He and Sam brought in the kerosene stove yesterday.  It’s now taking up the whole of the saloon floor!  I had no idea how these stoves worked, but I’m finding out.  The first thing you need to deal with is the can that holds the kerosene.  I always assumed the kerosene went in the stove.  This can has a hose that comes out of the bottom, and a pressure gauge and a pump on the top of the can.  The pump is removable, and that’s the hole where you pour in the kerosene to fill the can. 

The problem was where to put the can because it has to be pumped every time you use the stove.  Ed suggested out in the cockpit, but I wasn’t too crazy about that idea.  I suggested under the floorboards, but Sam pointed out that the can should be on the same level as the stove.  If it isn’t, you have to pump that much harder to raise the pressure.  It’s a two-gallon can, and looked outrageous anywhere in the galley.  Of course, Ed came up with a good idea.  He is installing the can underneath one of the counters in the galley.  He drilled a hole in the counter, and just the pump will be sticking up above the counter level.  It will be right next to the stove.

We have the shelves out of the galley, and the cockpit table pulled out.  Sam is sanding and varnishing.  It takes a long time because of all the coats of varnish, and frequent interruptions by the rain.  Sam was giving me a lesson in how to varnish yesterday.

We’ve met several more people; everyone has been very friendly.  One fellow, Durke, is on a Canadian boat.  He, his wife Eleanor, and four little kids, are from Alberta, Canada.  He came over to Tropic Moon because he was looking for a part he needed.  The chandlery never has what you want.  We didn’t have the part either, but we did enjoy our chat.  His brother and family are also down here in Grenada on another boat.  I asked Durke how Eleanor was enjoying the life.  It turns out she’s not too crazy about it.  It seems that Durke and his brother were plant managers for a company in Alberta.  They got tired of the rat race.  While on a business trip, they flew to Ft. Lauderdale, and each bought himself a 40’ sailboat!  They quit their jobs without even consulting their wives. 

Eleanor had not even seen the boat she expected to live on.  I said it was no wonder she wasn’t keen on the whole thing.  She refuses to have anything to do with the boat, and every time they sail, she goes below deck and gets sick.  She tells the kids they’re going to get sick too, so, of course, they do.  She still has all the work of the four children, plus all the housework takes twice as long on a boat.  They’ve been at it for almost a year.  I wouldn’t want to be on a boat under those circumstances.

So far I’ve found three cockroaches, and they’ve all been dead.  The spray we use regularly seems to do the trick.  I’ve never seen such huge roaches.  They’re at least two inches long.  They run all over the docks at night.

We had our tour of Kalizma, and it was impressive.  There are still paintings of Liz and Richard on board.  We were told the Burtons left lots of their personal belongings.  They had separate bedrooms, one a floor above the other.  Liz’s bathroom has a huge tub, two sinks and two toilets.  I think I was most impressed with the formal dining room – very elegant.  Ed was rather taken with the engine room, which occupies a whole floor of the boat.  The inside of Kalizma is being redecorated.  There are seven guest cabins.  Kalizma will be used as a charter boat, taking between 10-14 people at a time. 

I suggested to Ed that we take Sunday off and go to the beach.  He felt he had too much work to do.  He’s working twelve hours a day, seven days a week, and I wonder when he’ll slow down a little.

Tropic Moon, showing off her port side.
Note the large windows in the saloon.

December 19, 1978

Tropic Moon was hauled out on Saturday, and the workers scraped the bottom right away.  At first glance, it looked to be in good shape, but closer inspection showed rusted spots.  Many of the spots had been rusting from the inside of the hull, and worked their way out.  Pieces of wood were left lying up against the steel in some inaccessible places inside the hull.  When the rain seeped into those places (leaky deck), the wood held the water against the steel, causing the rust to start.  There are a few places where the workers sanded right through the hull!

The welder at Grenada Yacht Services, Haines, finally came on Sunday, and started working at a snail’s pace.  Ed was upset because he didn’t think Haines’ welds looked good.  He had visions of them failing, and of us sinking.  Sam was also walking around in a foul mood.  There is another welding shop, Ross’s, just down the road from the marina.  They had done some internal welding for us, so Ed suggested to Haines that we hire Ross, too, so the job would go faster.  Haines was upset; he said he would have everything done yesterday.  By 2:00 p.m., he was still working away on the first hole.  Ed went to talk to him.  He got very defensive and quit! 

Ed asked Sam to go and hire Ross.  This made Sam happy, because, as it turned out, Sam has had run-ins with Haines before over the welding.  Sam was upset that we were using Haines.  He hadn’t mentioned it, though….  So Ross and company were here by 3:00 p.m., and in two hours got quite a bit done.  Hopefully, they will finish today.  They were here this morning, working by 8:30 a.m. 

We were only supposed to be hauled out for one day for the painting.  It will cost us another small fortune for being out of the water this long.  After all the welding, we still have the painting.  With a little luck, we’ll come down off the lift tomorrow.  Sam just came in and said the carpenters are starting work on the mizzenmast today.  One of these days…

The stove is installed in the galley, but as soon as that was done, we had to haul the boat, so the stove hasn’t been used yet.  We tried lighting all the burners, and they all worked.  We can’t use our head while hauled out because it just comes out of a hole in the hull.  It would drip down onto the platform!  (Obviously, we haven’t installed our new toilet with the holding tank…)  Also, the boat's battery is almost dead.  We can’t charge it while hauled out because we can’t run the engine.  We’re back to no lights at night.  And you should see the steep ladder we have to climb to get up and down from the boat!  Can you tell I’ll be glad to get back in the water???

I’ve done a fair amount of grocery shopping and bought things like flour, sugar, powdered milk, mayonnaise, and a few canned goods.  I’m not buying anything that needs refrigeration – since we won’t have any.  There’s no icebox, either.  I should be all set to go with my cooking when we’re back at the dock. 

December 28, 1978

We just received a letter written by Dad Baardsen, mailed 12/11 – our first mail in two weeks!  I spoke with Claude, the fellow who handles imports here.  He told me the problem with the mail this time of year is LIAT (Leeward Islands Air Transport).  They are bringing in so many passengers for the holidays; they leave behind mailbags and luggage.  We already knew about the luggage!  Apparently, the nickname for LIAT is Luggage In Another Town.  Claude thinks we should start seeing mail again in the next couple days.

I’m glad Christmas is behind us.  I found it a rather lonely and depressing time, not being with family.  We did have a nice time with Durke and Eleanor.  Sunday afternoon (Christmas Eve) we sailed up to Halifax Bay, which is north of here and not too far.  We went on their boat.  We went swimming, and that was really nice.  Ed had been here in Grenada for six weeks, and that was the first time he’d gone sailing or swimming.

We ate dinner, and then waited for the kids to go to bed so we could play Santa.  It was hard to stay awake past the kids!  Durke and Eleanor have four kids, two girls, nine and seven, and two boys, five and three.  We filled stockings for the children with candies and small gifts.  I asked the kids how Santa Claus was going to come, seeing as how they don’t have a chimney.  They told me he would come down the mast.  I wondered if Santa might be wearing a red bathing suit, since it’s so hot here, but they assured me he would come in full suit.  The next morning both Theresa and Bobby claimed to have seen him.  Tina, the oldest, said she woke up a couple times, but she missed him.  It was fun to watch the kids open their presents.

We spent a good part of Christmas day swimming.  We all went into shore by dinghy to go shell hunting.  There were some really neat shells.  I told Ed we should go back there sometime on Tropic Moon.  One other boat was there overnight, but left first thing in the morning.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves.  Eleanor fixed a nice dinner of ham, baked potatoes, boiled onions, corn, and tossed salad.  I helped as much as I could. 

Our haul out was a lousy experience.  After finding so many rusted spots on the hull, Ed was pretty discouraged.  The welders have done a patch-up job, which I guess is good enough, but the steel is thinner in places than Ed would like.  We may end up redoing the whole thing.  Our bill came to $1400, when we’d been expecting around $500.  One of the bills was from the second welder we used.  It was for $900 EC (East Caribbean Dollar), which Ed thought was too high.  (That’s about $360 US for about a day and a half of work.)  So Ed and Sam went to complain.  The bill came back later and it had been reduced from $900 to $570.  There still wasn’t any itemizing, but it seemed more reasonable, so Ed approved it.  The billing seems a little arbitrary, to say the least!  Anyway, it’s so nice to be floating again. 

Last Saturday, we went to market to get fresh fruit and vegetables.  I tried bargaining, with no success.  The prices seem high.  I mentioned this to Eleanor.  She told me that to get lower prices, you have to shop in quantity from one person.  I had been buying a cucumber here and a couple tomatoes there.  So yesterday, Wednesday, the alternate market day, I took my basket and went to market again.  I shopped with one woman.  I selected some lettuce and three cucumbers, and got a dollar off the total.  Also, whereas I had been paying 15 cents for one ripe banana, this time I bought a huge bunch of green bananas for 75 cents total.  I ended up with a very full basket.  You learn by experience.  By the time I know the systems here, it will be time to move on.

A note card from Grenada

I’m cooking all our meals now.  I think variety will be the biggest problem.  I have a stove, but no refrigeration, so most things come from cans.  Eleanor recommended a few brands to me.  I’ve baked two banana breads, and they came out fine.  We took one along for Christmas. 

It was one month yesterday that I arrived here.  There still seems to be so much to do on the boat.  It feels like we’ve hardly made a dent.  When a boat sits for so long, things break down with a little use, like the pumps in the galley.  The hose on the salt-water pump died, and water was leaking into the boat!  Ed checks the bilges every day to make sure we’re not sinking.  Only about two quarts had come in, which Ed pumped out.  He fixed the pumps too.  The mizzenmast is still out of the boat, though the carpenters are making progress rebuilding it.

Ed is growing a beard!  It started when we were hauled out for five days and he couldn’t shave.  I want him to grow it to see what it will look like.  It itches him, so I don’t know how long he’ll last.  It’s very dark in color, darker than his hair.  And very prickly, I can assure you!  So far it just looks grubby.

The original floor plan for Tropic Moon

January 4, 1979

I would normally be off to take my shower now.  It’s 7:30 a.m., but it’s too cold!  I think I’ll have to switch my showers to late afternoon.  I woke up during the night, felt cold, and put on a t-shirt.  Ed did the same.  He also spread his big towel over his sheet for extra warmth.  We checked our thermometer this morning, and the temperature had dropped to 73 degrees!  We sure have adjusted well to the climate.  If this “cool” spell continues with the coming of winter, we’ll have to dig out the blankets.  Actually, if we went back to Michigan right now, we’d both die from the cold.

Well, I’m glad New Year’s is behind us.  It was pretty depressing, but in a different way from Christmas.  We’ve never been big on celebrating New Year’s Eve; this year we were in bed by 10:00 p.m.  A wild party on Kalizma awakened us.  They were having quite a bash.  At midnight, they were shooting off flares.  The problem was, just about everybody was at that party, and we hadn’t been invited.  I stayed up and watched till 3:00 a.m., since Kalizma is just across the dock from us.  I saw just about everyone I know here, even Sam and his girlfriend.  I felt totally left out.  

The next morning, I was saying “Happy New Year” to Sue.  I told her I was feeling pretty down over the party.  She and Hugh had gone.  For one thing, Hugh works on Kalizma. Then two nights ago, Ed and I went to the Patio Bar for dinner.  Sam and Marlene were there, so we joined them.  We had a couple drinks with them.  Jack (from Kalizma) came by our table.  He shook Sam’s hand, kissed Marlene, and asked them if they’d enjoyed the party.  Then he turned to us and asked why we hadn’t been there. 

I told him, “Because we weren’t invited.”

Jack said, “But I invited all of Grenada!”

“Yes, we saw that,” I said, “but you still hadn’t invited us.”

Jack said we were welcome to come to any of their parties, and I told him we’d be at the next one.  Later I asked Ed how Jack could have noticed we weren’t there.  They had well over 100 people at the party.  Ed thinks Sue said something to Hugh, who had mentioned it to Jack. 

After our dinner at the Patio Bar, we were making our way back to Tropic Moon when we ran into Stumpy.  He’s one of the locals, like Sam.  He just got a job skippering a boat called Sundance.  Stumpy lives aboard, takes care of the boat, and takes it out on charter.  The owner lives in Canada.  Stumpy invited us to see the boat, so we went over.  It’s really nice; it’s so neat and pretty, it could be used in a boat ad. 

While we were on Sundance, another couple came aboard.  Marge and Ken are Americans, and have a boat named Tradition.  Marge had some great stories to tell.  She used to be skipper on a charter boat in the Virgins.  That boat had an all-girl crew.  Marge had also worked on a boat delivery as cook.  She said the skipper didn’t know how to navigate, and they ended up in Cuba!  Marge wanted to get off the boat because she was sure the boat was sinking.  The Cubans kept her under house arrest in a hotel, for a month, before they let her fly back to the States.  The boat traveled a short ways further, hit a reef, and did sink! 

Durke had told me that Peter Ustinov was on the island, and that Durke had tried to get Ustinov to go on a charter, with no luck.  Well, I was shopping at the Food Fair near the beach, and there he was doing his shopping!  He looked just like he did in the last movie I’d seen him in – Logan’s Run.  I didn’t say anything to him.  He was with a woman, and they were speaking in French.  It was neat to see him.  I was telling Sam, and he told me he’s seen Robert Mitchum and Paul Newman.  I wouldn’t mind running into Paul Newman….

January 16, 1979

The mail situation continues to be good, though we’re still playing catch-up.  Yesterday we received mail sent almost a month ago.  

We have a mizzenmast again!  We moved Tropic Moon over alongside Kalizma to make use of their block and tackle system.  The men had quite a job getting the mast back in the boat.  First, it got stuck at the deck hole.  It took lots of maneuvering to get the mast vertical enough to go in.  Then the mast jammed on one of the shelves below deck in the aft cabin.  After more tugging and effort, the mizzenmast was both lifted and straightened, and finally went down into the step.  I knew a coin should go in first.  Sam said it should be a silver one, so I put a quarter in the step before operations began.  It seems everything of importance we do is accompanied by torrential rain.  We all got drenched while working on the mast.

When Tropic Moon was back in her own slip, we went over to Kalizma.  We invited the people who had helped us to go to the Patio Bar for drinks.  They didn’t feel they should leave the boat, so we went to the bar, got a case of Carib beer, and took it back to Kalizma.  We had a nice visit.  Jack was excited.  A yacht had come in to Grenada Yacht Services with Margeaux Hemingway on board.  Jack knows the captain, and he invited them for drinks.  The captain said he would bring Margeaux.  Jack is quite the fan!

NEXT TIME:  Grenada - Part 2

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