Tuesday, November 30, 2010


After the Stormy Weather that wasn’t Tomas, our son Chris picked the perfect few days of Blue Skies to visit us in Grenada.

Here’s the requisite arrival shot. Chris didn’t ‘rate’ the Immigration escort his brother Bil did last year. But that’s another story. So is the one L in Bil.
By the way, this is the last time you’ll see Chris in long sleeves during his stay. Grenada’s temperature seldom varies out of the mid 80s, although it has dipped into the high 70s the last couple of nights.

We hit as many of the usual haunts as time allowed.

Le Phare Bleu’s Poolside Bar......

Whisper Cove Marina......

Nimrod's Rum Shop......

The open air market in downtown St. George’s......

The Creole Shack near the cruise ship docks for lunch, and, an introduction to Farkel......
By the way, the blog photographer enjoyed all these stops with us – he just couldn’t manage to get in the shots. He needs a different lens, I guess.

One of Chris's favourite stops was Roger’s Barefoot Beach Bar on Hog Island.
Who can blame him? Cold beer in hand and warm sand between your toes.
Not to mention loud island music as the sun goes down. This place is the real deal, enjoyed by locals and cruisers alike.

An island tour filled one day. First stop was a rum tasting at Clarke’s Court Bay Distillery.
At nine in the morning, we were sipping rum punch. Not a bad way to get your morning juice. We love this island.

Our guide made every stop we requested to get the postcard shots, this one on the high road above St. George’s.

Here's the family tree shot.
This is a kapok, or silk tree. They are huge and majestic. The human-looking trunk and limbs could be the stuff of nightmares. Remember The Wizard of Oz?

Next stop was Annandale Falls, one of six waterfalls in the mountains of Grenada. Chris is watching Matthew and Nicholas from the Australian boat, s/v Orchid, jump into the cool, fresh water under the falls. That’s Byron with the camera, crew from s/v Astor, who also joined us for tour day.

Geoff , Nicholas and his brother Alexander, tried to get Chris to join them, chanting his name and slapping the water.
To no avail. Chris kept me company in the peanut gallery, taking this picture.

Here’s Michael Williams, our excellent tour guide, setting up another rum tasting at Mark’s Sports Bar.
Mark makes his own spiced rum punch.
We didn’t really need a second taste to decide that it was the best of the day. So far.
But we accepted another sip after buying our own bottles. That’s Mark, sending us off with half a bottle of the rum punch.

Rachel, mom and first mate from s/v Orchid, took custody of that bottle.
It was empty by the end of the day. Rachel???

Our meandering tour worked its way through Grenville on the central east coast of Grenada. We stopped at The Nutmeg Factory, one of three that are still operating on the island. There used to be eight. The storage bins in the picture below on the right are all empty. This factory has operated at about one tenth capacity for the past five years. Why?
In 2004, Hurricane Ivan devastated the nutmeg crops, leaving diminished forestation of any kind to hold the soil in place. The next year, though Hurricane Emily was only a Category One, she compounded the problem, her rains and winds sweeping away more nutmeg trees. Grenada has replanted in many areas, but the nutmeg itself takes 12-15 years to mature. The island economy has a long recovery ahead.

Our guide at The Nutmeg Factory was soft-spoken and, in his way, captivating. He told us the economic side of the story and also the journey of the nutmeg itself – growth, harvest, and processing.
His lovely, slow, island manner was unintentionally dramatic. Look at the faces of Alexander and Nicholas.

We stopped for lunch at Belmont Estate, a 400 acre working plantation, inland and north of Grenville.
We had a delicious three-course island meal. Is Chris yawning?

Part of Belmont Estate is an area for the gathering and processing of cocoa beans to make Grenada’s world-famous organic chocolate. The cocoa plant fruit resembles a good-sized yellow mango. The guide broke one open to reveal the cluster of cocoa beans that looks like a bunch of grapes. We were invited to take one of the beans and treat it like a hard candy – don’t bite down, just suck on the gelatinous white coating till just the brown cocoa bean remains. 
The adults look a bit squeamish but Alexander and Nicholas enjoyed the sweet white pulp, taking one whole fruit along and finishing the pulp off the seeds in the bus.

Kelly was our energetic and entertaining guide at Belmont Estate.
He was a hit with kids of all ages.
Chocolate bars don’t last long aboard Beach House. Even our Dutch and German cruising friends admit that Grenadian chocolate rates extremely high on the world scale of excellent chocolate.

Our last stop was at the River Antoine Rum Distillery. It’s the only rum factory in the Caribbean still operating with a water-powered wheel powering the cane crusher that starts the rum-making process. If it’s worked for 250 years, why mess with that?

We were delighted to see Patty, the same guide we had last year at the distillery.

Chris tasted the extra proof River Antoine rum.
I stayed with the rum punch. Tried 160 proof once. Never again.

On the ride home, our guide showed us a Hurricane Janet house.
After Hurricane Janet in 1955, small, prefabricated homes were brought in to replace many homes lost in the hurricane. Hurricane Janet houses were the only ones totally untouched by the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. They were clearly built to withstand mighty winds.

No visit to Beach House in Grenada is complete without an evening or three at Clarke’s Court Bay Marina, our home-away-from-home when we’re off the boat. Chris’s last night happened to be Hamburger Night at CCBM – what good planning. We like the food, the bar and the music, but the best part of Clarke’s Court Bay Marina is the people.
There are lots of reasons to like Charmella – in addition to her beautiful smile, she serves up the cold Carib. Looks like this was Chris’s round.

Here we are with Jim and Wendy from s/v Merengue. They came around from Prickly Bay that night and we’re really glad they did. They made a good night even better.

The back steps are a favoured gathering spot. That’s Pia and Erling, our Danish friends from s/v Thora II.

A game of pool broke out later in the evening. Every body took a turn showing me how to sink this particular shot. Charles from s/v Margaret Sharon is in the background – he’s the real player, but Pia’s form was impressive.
I sank the shot, by the way. Must have been the advice. Or maybe the easy angle?

And this last picture says it all. Here’s Charles again and that’s Jenny in the middle. She keeps Clarke’s Court Bay Marina running smoothly.
Just look at those smiling faces.

So - one visitor in 2009 and one visitor in 2010. Here’s hoping we double the number of visitors to Beach House in 2011. At least. Cheers, everyone.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


The weather affects everyone, everywhere, every day. At the very least it can affect your mood. Care to choose between a wet, gloomy day and a bright, sunny one? A no-brainer. Be happy.

Then there’s severe weather. When Mother Nature throws a hurricane our way, more than mood is affected - lives may be on the line. We’ve been watching Tomas, a confused and growing storm. Here’s the timeline for the last several days.


Tropical Storm Tomas threatened Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday into overnight, to the extent that the capital city, Port of Spain, shut down – schools and businesses were closed and residents battened down as they awaited a face-to-face with a named storm. But Tomas had other plans. Late into the evening he changed course and set his sights on the waters east of Grenada. Our day continued as planned. We didn't know then that our weekend forecast was about to change.


Hurricanes have a mind of their own. In 1999, Hurricane Lenny defied all the experts – he moved from west to east – very unusual. He’s called Wrong Way Lenny – less than fondly. Grenada was at the very south end of Lenny’s path of destruction, but they remember him. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan grew to the size of Texas and still holds the record as the 10th worst Atlantic hurricane. Grenada – NOT a hurricane zone - suffered catastrophic damage. There is still rebuilding happening today.

So Grenadians weren’t taking information about Tomas lightly. They expected, at the very least, heavy rain and very strong winds on Friday. The government ordered businesses and schools to close early so residents could prepare their homes and the island water supply was shut off to avoid possible contamination from storm water.

The storm projection called for a midnight arrival of the chaos. Many cruising boats changed anchorages for better protection, some put down second anchors, still others went into marinas and tripled up their dock lines. We stayed at anchor, preparing Beach House by letting out more anchor chain and making sure various bits and pieces were well secured on deck. And then with assurances to each other that we’d done all we could, we settled in for a long, wakeful night.

But nothing happened. Nada. Oh, possibly a few drops of rain – but that happens most nights – a tropical thing. And there was no wind. At all. The heaviest thing in the air was expectation. All night.


We hit the computer early Saturday morning to see what Tomas was up to.

These two images are from Ralph’s Tropical Weather site – a year apart. The shot on the left is from October 2009 and contains those three little words we prefer – No Active Storms.
On the right is a screen grab from Ralph’s site on Saturday. Quite a different story this October - Shary weakening to the north and Tomas building in the south.

Ralph's site also shows “Possible Tracks” for named storms.
Given that these predictions, as varied as they are, come from the same available information, it makes you wonder how accurate any forecast is. How nice to be a weather forecaster – you can be wrong 95% of the time and still keep your job and get paid.

Then we sought out Chris Parker’s expertise.
Chris is a cruiser and weather guru, now manning The Caribbean Weather Center out of Florida. He’s been doing weather forecasts on the SSB for several years, including individual advice to “sponsoring” vessels. Chris recently added interactive webcasts to his repertoire.

It seemed Tropical Storm Tomas was on his way to becoming Hurricane Tomas and the predicted path was between St. Vincent and St. Lucia. This screen grab from Storm Pulse, another great weather site, clearly shows Tomas’ intent on hitting those two islands.
Grenada had been spared a direct hit but wasn’t totally in the clear yet – severe thunderstorms were expected well into Saturday evening.

So we stayed home, not wanting to leave Beach House during the predicted weather. Instead of celebrating Geoff’s birthday at a local venue with friends, we had a quiet dinner aboard and watched a movie - not The Perfect Storm.
And the captain enjoyed a dram of his prezzie from me.


Once again, the predicted ‘long night of bad weather’ didn’t happen. No wind, just a few drops of rain, no thunder, no lightning.

We heard via a special Sunday edition of the Coconut Telegraph, a cruisers’ net on the SSB, that Dave and Michelle, friends who headed north about a week ago, are fine. Their boat was tied up in Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia for the blow. They experienced winds up to 50 knots – quite significant. Ken and Diane, friends who have a house on the southeast coast of St. Lucia are fine. They and their house survived unscathed.

Our weather sites show more on this continuing story this morning. This is a radar shot from NOAA’s site. Hurricane Tomas is clearly past the Windward Island chain as he heads WNW, but a significant disturbance is trailing behind him.
The blob in the lower right hand corner will pass over Grenada today. The wind has started to pick up and the rain seems more serious. Whatever the amount of rain and wind, we’re grateful it’s just that – rain and wind.

Current information suggests that Hurricane Tomas may gather strength as it crosses the warm water of the Caribbean Sea, heading towards Haiti. This screen grab from the Passage Weather site is a projection for next Friday, showing the surface wind speeds and wind direction.
The swirling hurricane formation is quite clear in the little ‘arrows’ that show the wind direction. Those million and a half survivors of the Haiti earthquake certainly don’t need another natural disaster as they struggle to manage in tent cities. What an understatement.

Hurricane season isn’t officially over until the end of November. At the moment, there’s nothing new brewing off the west coast of North Africa where all these disturbances originate, but we’ll be watching very carefully as we choose a time to start moving north. This has been a very different hurricane season from last year’s non-event.

 In the meantime, we’re hoping to call our next blog entry “Blue Skies”.
Hope the weather where you are is making you smile.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


The Admiral's returning.
Is Beach House ready?
The Admiral's returning.
Is Beach House clean?

The Admiral's returning.
She's been gone too long.
The Admiral's returning.
Where does all the stuff belong?

The Admiral 's returning.
Soon all will be fine.
The Admiral 's returning
Gotta chill some white wine.

The Admiral's returning.
Normalcy will soon reign.
The Admiral's returning.
We'll be two again.

The Admiral's returning.
It's been such a long while.
The Admiral's returning.
You'll know by my smile.

That the Admiral has returned
You'll know by my smile
That I'm second in command
You'll know by my smile
That Happy days are here again!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Hello Muddah - Hello Faddah
Here I am at - Camp Grenada
Where it's all – so enter-taining
We play cricket - there's no complaining

I went painting - to learn from Terry
Used water colours - very merry

And Bob's Marina - has a big screen
Where ev'ry Grand Prix - can be see---een
Don't take me home - oh Muddah, Faddah
I love the book swaps - here in Grenada
Please leave me here - out on the hook
I'll grab a beer - and read my book

Now I don't want - to cause you pain
But we play - Mex-i-can train

And you remember - FIFA World Cup
That's where Spaa- ain - beat Holland up

Don't take me home - don't make me cry
I love Burger night - love ev'ry french fry
So please, please, please - just let me stay
I want my fish and chips - ev'ry Friday

Dearest Faddah - Darling Muddah
How's my precious - little bruddah
If you miss me - don't worry 'bout me
Cause ev'ry Tuesday - I watch a movie

Almost forgot - there's jewelry making
Some are swimming                                                    
                                                            and some are diving
You might think - that I would miss ya
I really don't - but I still love ya.

And dear Muddah - and dear Faddah
There's Carnival - at Camp Grenada

And Gylfi's singing - at Roger's Beach Bar
I'll watch the sun set - where all my friends are
So goodbye Muddah - goodbye Faddah
I'll stay forever - at Camp Grenada