|Ed at the helm - before he grew his beard|
To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.
January 16, 1979
Wednesday was Ed’s birthday (#34). We left the marina, for the first time, to go out for dinner. We ate at a Chinese restaurant called the Dragon Palace. When we arrived, the place was deserted except for an old man behind the bar. I was pleased, at least, to see he was Chinese. Later on other people did show up. We had a good meal: egg drop soup, chicken fried rice, beef with mixed vegetables, and sweet and sour pork. We started off with rum drinks and ended with tea. We finished off all the dishes. It wasn’t like we could have brought home a doggy bag, not having any refrigeration. The restaurant itself was a rather shabby place. The salmon pink walls were decorated with pictures cut from Chinese magazines. Four inflated, plastic Chinese lanterns hung from the ceiling. We got a rather funny feeling walking into such a place. It seems we have a penchant for picking empty restaurants.
After dinner, we walked down the hill to the Holiday Inn. We passed through the main lobby and out onto the beach. It was a beautiful night with a full moon hanging above the palm trees. Moonlight sparkled on the water. We went back to the patio, selected a table not far from the steel band, and ordered pina coladas. They went down slowly, giving us plenty of time to listen to the music. I certainly did enjoy Ed’s birthday. I think he did too.
After the mizzenmast was back in the boat, Ed and Sam spent a couple days adjusting the rigging. We put on the new sails we’d had shipped down from the States. On Friday we went out sailing on Tropic Moon for the first time since coming to Grenada in November. We looked pretty spiffy! It was a good sail. I was at the wheel over half the time. I feel I’m starting to understand this sailing thing.
|That's me, at the wheel - peeking out from behind the mast|
Yesterday we went sailing again, and it turned out to be very exciting. A gale chased us. We were flying along at over 8 knots, which is very fast for Tropic Moon. We had to take down the mainsail to slow down the boat. Sam was with us. He was pulling down the mainsail while Ed was at the wheel. I was down below making sandwiches. After watching the mayonnaise jar travel back and forth across the counter a few times, I wasn’t able to eat any of the sandwiches.
I had been at the wheel earlier when there was very little wind. I accidentally jibed the boat (the main boom went flying from one side of the boat to the other), and I almost hit Sam in the back of the head! I screamed, and he ducked in time. I was a little shaken up. I asked Ed to take the wheel, and told him I would go down below. In leaving the wheel, I walked right into the mizzen boom, knocking my head. Ouch!
I was at the wheel again later when we had some really good wind. Our rail was almost in the water. I was having fun, and yelled, “Look, we’re going to tip over!” Sam doesn’t understand when I’m joking. He started to explain why that wouldn’t happen. The next time we tacked (changed directions), I wanted to help. I wanted to be the one to pull in the jib sail. Ed wasn’t sure I could do it, because it takes some strength. You’re winching in a large, flapping sail. I tried, succeeded, and even Sam told me I’d done a good job. We had pouring rain, blazing sun, strong winds, and a flat calm, all in the space of four hours.
|Sam, eating one of my sandwiches|
Ed installed our new self-tailing winches, and also put in the knot meter so we can know how fast we’re going. We calibrated the knot meter by motoring up and down along the long pier where the big freighters dock. There was a cruise ship tied up there. Several people were watching us. They must have thought we were nuts, as we kept passing back and forth.
The teak for the new deck arrived over a week ago. It cleared Customs on Friday and is now stored in a shed at the marina. We wanted to take a week to enjoy Tropic Moon for a change, and do some sailing, before we have to tear everything apart again.
January 29, 1979
The work on the new deck is underway. Today begins the second week. Not too much was accomplished last week. About halfway down one side was ripped up. New plywood was laid, and that was the extent of it. And that’s with two men from the carpenter’s shop working, plus Ed removing all nuts on the bolts from below deck. It was costing an awful lot per hour, too. Ed talked to the head shipwright. This week we only have one man, Chris, plus Ed and Sam working right along with him. So things will probably progress twice as fast at half the cost. Ed figures at least another three weeks.
When each day starts, one side of the boat (inside) has to be stripped, and everything moved to the other side. So things from Ed’s bunk and shelf are on my bunk, and then it’s all covered with drop clothes. It’s still pretty messy! The galley is on the side of the boat that isn’t being worked on, so I’m still cooking.
The past three days were the annual Grenada deep-sea fishing tournament. Deep sea fishing yachts come from all over, like Venezuela and the nearby islands, mostly Trinidad. Several of the yachts docked at our end of the marina. There were about thirty boat entries. I think the largest fish was caught the first day. It was a 186 lb. blue marlin. We went over to look at it; the weighing station is just across from us. With all the boat washing, the water pressure on the dock is very low. I couldn’t get a shower this morning, and couldn’t even get enough water out of the faucet on the dock to fill my wash bucket. I think they’re all leaving today.
Yesterday, a guy named Bob came by. He says he’s buying a boat named Sea Chest. We know the boat. It’s about 70 feet long, and I would guess, at least 20 feet wide. It’s a boxy motor yacht, and does look something like a sea chest. Anyway, the boat has a steel hull. Bob’s using the same surveyor we had, and he was advised to talk to us about our “hull problems.” Ed suggested Bob get ultrasonic equipment to test the thickness of the hull. He’ll probably have one sent down from the States.
Bob asked where we were from. He’s from Wisconsin, and used to own a diamond store in Ann Arbor! (Haha – I don’t think we ever shopped there.) He says he still owns a few diamond stores, so he isn’t ready to retire. I told him we planned on cruising for about five years. He made some crack about retiring before you get going. He was surprised when I told him we were in our 30’s, and had worked for ten years. He thought we were in our early 20’s – right out of school. I told Ed later that I think we’ve found the fountain of youth.
Bob told us that Jack, from Kalizma, is going to be captain on Sea Chest. We had heard, about a week ago, that Jack had been fired, but nothing else, and Jack was still on Kalizma. Bob tells us that the boat is being taken to the Mediterranean for sale, so it wasn’t really a “firing,” but it did leave Jack without a job. Kalizma was supposed to be used as a charter boat in the Caribbean, under the original plans.
By the way, Ed’s beard is coming along nicely; I really like it, although the mustache does tend to tickle my nose when I kiss him!
February 1, 1979
Work continues on the deck. Fortunately, we haven’t had any rain since we started. It used to rain at least once a day, or during the nights. The lack of rain is the only good thing about the deck work. We fired one guy last week, who didn’t do much, and we’re now left with Chris, who does almost everything wrong! And these are the two men who did the decks on Kalizma…. Chris can’t seem to understand that nuts have to be put on all the bolts that go through the deck. He goes around drilling holes wherever he thinks they’ll look nice. It’s almost funny how much bad luck he’s had, putting holes over beams and into bulkheads.
Ed was very upset yesterday. Actually, he’s been upset for the last week and a half. He called in Gully, the shipwright – again – and pointed out all of Chris’s mistakes. One board had to be ripped out and a new one put in. Teak is awfully expensive stuff to mess up. Today, Ed is telling Chris exactly where to drill the holes. Chris also poured glue all over the old deck, and then tracked it onto our painted cabin top. Spacers have to be placed between the pieces of teak. Chris was starting to drill holes, and Ed noticed it hadn’t been done. Ed complained, and Chris said, what do we need them for? Ed put in the spacers. Today Chris was supposed to bring ¼” spacers, and he brought 3/8” instead. Ed has to watch his every move.
Yesterday Chris was drilling holes and was complaining because the screws didn’t fit in the holes. He was trying to force them in. Ed told him he was using the wrong size drill, and finally made him understand he had to go to the shop and get a different size drill. Chris seemed surprised when he used the other drill, and the screws actually fit. I don’t think Chris was too happy about taking orders from Ed, but he seems cheerful today, singing while he makes his mistakes. We have a grand total of two boards laid so far. In other words, we’re getting nowhere fast. I asked Ed why he didn’t fire Chris. He said then he’d have to do all the work himself. In my opinion, he’s doing it all now.
It’s getting difficult to get a shower these days. I guess they’ve started conserving water, since we’re in the dry season. The water’s often shut off in the bathrooms, and the pressure is low in the faucets on the dock. I got a shower this morning at 7:30 a.m. It was the first one I’ve managed in a couple days. The water is usually shut off late afternoon, when everyone wants to take his shower after working all day. There wasn’t any water when Ed wanted to take his shower last night, and there wasn’t enough pressure on the docks to make a hose work. I got out a bucket and hung it on a faucet to fill, slowly. I gave Ed his shower on the dock. (He was wearing his bathing suit.) I took a sponge and soap, and scrubbed him down. Then I poured the water over him for his rinse.
Peter, in the next boat, wanted to know if there was any water. I thought I saw someone coming back from the direction of the showers, carrying a towel, so I stopped him and asked, “Is there water in the showers?” He started talking to me in French, so I asked him, “Est-ce-que l’eau dans le toilet?” – which probably translates to: “Is there water in the toilet?” Then I noticed the “towel” was a t-shirt, and realized he would have no idea what I was talking about. He was looking nervous, and trying to explain he doesn’t speak English. At the same time, he was calling back a friend who he said does speak English. When the friend comes back, the first man says something to him about “l’eau dans le toilet.” So I say to the fellow, in English, “Is there water in the shower?” stressing shower. He smiles, points in the proper direction, and says, “On the right, need key for door.” So I say, “Thank you, merci!” and went back to the boat. An interesting encounter! I told Ed, I’d probably get us kicked out of France, if we ever got there.
We probably have a dinghy now. Stumpy, the local guy who skippers Sundance, is buying a new inflatable dinghy. He’s selling us his old fiberglass one, which is the kind we wanted. Stumpy went to Claude’s chandlery to buy the new one. Claude wouldn’t sell him one without a cable from the owner, who lives in Alberta, Canada. These new Zodiacs cost $1200 US. So Stumpy cabled the owner and got a cable back. Then Claude said he wanted the money first, so Stumpy has sent another cable to the owner. We’ll be getting the old dinghy for $120. We’ve had it for our use; I’ve been practicing rowing around the marina. Stumpy has the dinghy right now because he’s out on charter.
I have no idea when we’ll be heading north. It may be as late as April.
|The dock at Grenada Yacht Services|
February 7, 1979
The decks are finally progressing, although still at a snail’s pace. About one-fifth of the teak has been laid. On Friday of last week, Chris didn’t show up for work. Gully came over and talked to Ed. Ed pointed out more of Chris’s mistakes. Gully left and came back with Doug. Doug is the carpenter who drilled the hole for the knotmeter, and made the box for it. I was glad to see him, because Ed had liked the work he’d done. Doug works really hard, and gets along well with Ed and Sam. We have him again this week. I hope we can keep him through the rest of the project.
The welders are working - slowly - on the cockpit lockers, and one is almost done. Yesterday I was typing on my bed when this large cloud of smoke passed through the boat! I started coughing, and ran up on deck. It seems the welders had dropped some sparks that fell somewhere in the aft cabin, and a fire started. The sparks probably landed in some oil or grease. They poured water on the fire and put it out. Ed was ready with the fire extinguisher. The whole boat filled with smoke. When the smoke was gone, everything in the boat was covered with soot - the beds, my typewriter, the shelves in the galley, my new curtains…. It cleaned up fairly easily; truthfully, the soot hardly showed with all the other mess.
Sunday I wanted to get away from the boat. I talked Ed into walking to a nearby beach. When we got there, we put our things down on a small sand bank, and walked along the water. Lots of other people were around. When we got back, all that was left were my sandals. It’s possible a wave carried our things away, but more likely someone took them. Gone were my favorite blue shorts, a t-shirt, a large beach towel, and Ed’s deck shoes – which happened to be his only pair of shoes. Luckily, Ed had left his shirt on, because the boat keys were pinned in the pocket. Ed let me wear his shirt to walk home, so I’d have something to cover my bikini. He had to walk barefoot, about half a mile, and the road was burning hot.
The only place selling deck shoes is Claude’s chandlery, and they don’t have Ed’s size. I was telling Sam what happened. He offered to lend Ed his old pair of topsiders. Seems funny, having to lend your boss a pair of shoes.
The sailboat to our starboard is permanently moored there, as the owners live on Grenada. They were out sailing on Sunday when a French boat motored into the marina and went into their slip. The guard came over, and was telling the people they had to move. No one on the boat seemed to speak English, so they couldn’t understand why they had to move. The guard is black, and they tried bribing him with $10 US. The guards are very protective of owners’ spots, so that didn’t work. He continued telling them they had to move, to no effect.
We were sitting on deck, listening to the whole thing. Despite my disastrous “toilet” incident, I decided to try to explain in French. I went onto the dock and stood next to the guard. I told the people that “un autre bateau ici tout le temp” and “l’autre bateau” (I pointed out to sea) “pour le jour.” I repeated myself a few times. Then I left for the shower. When I got back, the French boat had moved. Monday night one of the women from the French boat came over with a big bag of fruits and vegetables. She told me, “Merci pour ‘l’autre bateau’,” my favorite phrase in the conversation. I thought that was very nice of her. I reciprocated by bringing over some banana bread.
I wrote about Bob, the man who owned a diamond store in Ann Arbor, who was looking into buying a steel-hulled boat. He took Ed’s advice and had someone fly in from Florida with one of the testers used to check the thickness of the steel. The piece of equipment had a rechargeable battery pack. The guy was staying at the Holiday Inn. He went to charge the tester in a socket marked 110 volts. Some other current was flowing through the circuit, and the tester blew up! They tell us it’s a $3000 piece of equipment. As it turned out, the surveyor said he couldn’t have used it anyway because the hull isn’t smooth enough. He tested the hull by tapping on it. He found the hull to be very thin in several places. The surveyor estimated $15,000 worth of work on the hull alone. He found other problems, like wood rot in the deckhouse. We’re told that Bob bought the boat anyway, and is going to have it fixed up. We understand he’s changing the boat’s name from Sea Chest to Blue Diamond. A good choice, since Bob owns diamond stores.
February 28, 1979
Almost every letter we get these days says the same thing – by now your decks must be done, and you’re all settled. NO! NO! NO! THE DECKS ARE NOT DONE! Yesterday the men were winding up on the starboard side, with just a couple small planks left to put down in the bow. Ed went to look things over. The carpenter had f***ed up again. All the boards that curve up to the front of the boat meet in a board that runs down from the bow to the cabin trunk. The planks meet in this one board, forming a zigzag pattern down both sides of the board. The planks should be cut and placed to form a symmetrical pattern. The five planks that were put in yesterday were off by quite a bit.
First thing this morning, Ed went to get Gully, the shipwright. Gully came here so fast; he left Ed behind! So now they’re ripping out those boards and have to cut new ones. Quite a bit of teak has been wasted on this job. Once the work is finished in the bow, there’s still the cockpit area to do, then all the caulking and sanding. It will still be a few more weeks….
I’m supposed to be stripping varnish in the galley and head. Boards and cupboard doors have been removed from the galley. I’ve been sitting on the dock, applying varnish remover, stripping the wood, and sanding it. The varnish work in both the galley and head had gotten pretty grotty over the years. I have a whole list of jobs to do, including some painting inside the boat – which should be fun. Ed has finally succeeded in putting me to work….
The sailboat next to us is Tradition. We had met Marge and Ken. I thought they were a couple, but it turns out it’s Marge’s boat, and Ken was crew. Ken’s back in the States, and Marge is looking for new crew. Marge has been having trouble getting her batteries to charge, and no one around the marina could figure out what was wrong. So Ed, who has nothing much to do anyway, went over Friday night. He decided the problem was with the alternator. Luckily, Marge had a spare one. Ed took all of Saturday morning to install it. Now things are working fine.
Marge took us out to lunch in St. George’s, to a restaurant called Rudolph’s, and treated us as a thank you to Ed. I had dolphin (the fish, not the mammal), and Ed had flying fish. The meals were really good. I’d wanted to try that restaurant. Marge left Saturday afternoon on another boat, bound for Trinidad and Carnival. Carnival is celebrated throughout the Caribbean on Mardi Gras Day. That is, everywhere except Grenada, where the Prime Minister decided to move Carnival to May so as not to compete with the other islands for tourists. Marge had heard about someone in Trinidad who could repair alternators, so she left carting two bad alternators with her. A very heavy load!
This is supposed to be the dry season, but the rain we’ve had in the past week could float an ocean liner. We’ve had buckets, pails, and bowls everywhere in the boat collecting water. And Tropic Moon will keep leaking like this until the new deck is caulked! Most everything in the boat got soaked. One casualty was our camera, which had been left in a locker in the aft cabin. It’s probably ruined. When I looked inside the case, what’s in there resembles mud.
We contacted Tony Davis – the friend who first talked to us about the cruising lifestyle, and Joyce Westerbur – a friend from when she and I worked together at the Ford Research Library. We were wondering if they’d be available to sail with us from Grenada to the Virgin Islands. Tony’s situation is uncertain because he frequently goes to California on business for Ford. It’s a special project funded by NASA, dealing with lasers. Tony can call us by phoning the marina office. They come to the boat to fetch us when there’s a call. He’ll check back with us in a couple weeks. We are now hoping for sometime in April. Joyce will come if Tony does, but doesn’t want to do it alone. I don’t blame her!
March 7, 1979
Work on the deck is now in the cockpit and all the teak should be laid this week. I’ve been working on putting plugs into the boltholes in the part of the deck that’s already down. When it’s finished, the deck will be sanded, the seams will be caulked, and hopefully, that will stop the leaking. We had a rainy weekend, and it was miserable. It’s just like Michigan here – nice all week, and rains all weekend. At least that’s in our favor for getting the deck done.
Lynn’s sister-in-law, Sunnie, is living and working on St. Maarten. She and Kent, a co-worker, were down for four days. They had meetings on Thursday and Friday, and then stayed the weekend. The four of us went out for dinner at Rudolph’s on Thursday night.
I fixed dinner for them on Friday – quiche, boiled onions and carrots, and banana bread for dessert. The meal preparation was traumatic, as I started with a fire in the oven. We must have a kerosene leak somewhere. It’s not really dangerous. We just watch the fire carefully, and let it burn itself out. Then I put the two quiches in the oven. I didn’t have a cookie sheet big enough to put under them. All of a sudden, I realized I was standing in something wet. The egg mixture had overflowed the pans, leaked through the oven, dripped out, and was running across the cabin sole. What spilled in the oven, burned. What a mess! I was lucky I had a meal to serve them. We had a couple bottles of wine with dinner. Maybe I should have had one while I was cooking….
On Saturday, Kent, Sunnie and I took their rental car and toured the island. (Ed stayed on the boat to work.) It was a bit of an adventure, as we had no map. We drove into the mountains, in the interior of the island, looking for a famous waterfall. We found Annandale Falls with little trouble. The waterfall was in a lushly carpeted grotto. Soft ferns and other vegetation covered the wall of rocks. Some boys there claimed the waterfall was 40-50 feet high, but we thought not more than 30 feet. Two boys wanted to jump off the falls for money, and softhearted Sunnie gave them $20 in local currency.
Still trying to get lost, we took another road. People we passed kept calling to us, "Wrong road! Wrong road!" We were thinking of stopping and asking someone if this was the wrong road. Then when the person said, "Yes," we would say "Thank you," and drive on. We finally did stop, and were told we were on the wrong road to the falls. We replied that we had already been there, and were just out for a drive. That was fine, they pointed us on - and we shortly ran out of road. We turned back, and waved at everyone again as we passed them for a second time.
The scenery in the mountains was really beautiful - a tropical rain forest, banana trees, thick, lush, dense foliage, intensely green in color, beautiful wild flowers in reds and pinks. The roads were narrow, bad, and very steep. Most of the "homes" were wooden shacks set in among the trees.
We decided to look for a deserted beach, as Sunnie wanted to work on her overall tan. We headed out of the mountains, taking whichever road pointed down. We visited a lighthouse, and found a nice private beach with black, volcanic sand. We ate a picnic lunch, and went swimming. Unfortunately, we couldn't work on our tans as the sun disappeared for the rest of the day.
March 12, 1979
The beginning of the eighth week of deck work… All the teak planks are laid. Doug is working on the pieces of teak that go around the three cockpit lockers. Ed is trying to figure out where the worst of the leaks are so he can do some plugging with cotton caulking before we put in the polysulfide. Ed runs a hose on the deck while I stand below and tell him when the leaks start and stop. Ed wants to have the deck leak-proof before we put in the polysulfide. Then that stuff will act as extra insurance. The deck should get sanded this week, and then the polysulfide caulking can be put in the seams. The end really is in sight!
We had a nice day yesterday. We’ve met three fellows on a boat called Maia. They invited us to go sailing. We went south of the island to Prickly Bay. It’s one of the better anchorages on Grenada. There were several other boats there. Besides us, Marge from Tradition came, Robin and Peter from Kim, and Larry from Tigre Maru. Robin and Peter live on Kim with their parents. Kim is used for day chartering. Peter is twelve, and Robin is sixteen – and a very grown-up young woman. She was the only one who smoked, and she held her own with the beer drinking. Robin’s a really good sailor, and she knew more about this area than anyone else on the boat. She also served a lunch of soup and bread, did the dishes, and had brought along some fudge she’d made.
The men on Maia are from San Francisco. They came down here a month ago to get the boat ready for a delivery, since the boat’s been sold. They ran into several problems, like having to rebuild the steering system. They’re sailing the boat to Acapulco, which is where the new owner wants it. They’ll be going through the Panama Canal. One of the guys, Foster, has sailed his own boat through the Canal. The plan is to leave this week. The boat is 45 feet in length, and didn’t seem crowded, despite having nine people aboard.
I’ve gotten to know a woman named Nancy. She’s a couple years younger than me. She and her husband, Jerry, live on Grenada, and own a business here. They have a trimaran named Sand Dollar. Their main business is to take tourists scuba diving. Sand Dollar also goes out on day-sailing trips. Their office is here at Grenada Yacht Services. They have contracts with some of the cruise ships. The cruise ships sell tickets for either sailing or diving, and deliver the people here to GYS.
Nancy and Jerry have a son, Ryan, who is three years old. Nancy said they had been planning a move, saving money, and making investments, for the past five years. They had been aiming for a cruising life, like Ed and me, until Ryan was born. Then they decided they wanted something more stable. They used to talk about what they most wanted, and Jerry would say – own a boat and live on a tropical island. Nancy’s dream was to live somewhere warm, go to the beach, be tanned all the time, and not have to do any work. They both have their dreams. You should see her tan! Nancy has a full-time, live-in maid, Agnes, who does all the cleaning, cooking, and laundry. She will also sit for Ryan any time Nancy wants to go out. Because of their contracts with the cruise ships, they can go aboard and use the facilities anytime one of the ships is in port. They go on a Greek ship once a week and have a sumptuous Greek dinner. One of the ships is in the Princess line – the same type of cruise ship used in the TV show, Love Boat.
Next time – Grenada – Part 3 – and some major excitement!