Dinghy Plane

Nissan 9.8HPSephina has an Avon RIB as it's tender that allows us to get ashore from anchorages. Talking to people and reading a lot told me that in the Caribbean it is your taxi, so it needs to be quick. For it to be quick it needs to be able to "plane" and this is defined as "the mode of operation for a waterborne craft in which its weight is predominantly supported by hydrodynamic lift, rather than hydrostatic lift (buoyancy)”.  In simple terms, when the forward motion is enough, the majority of the hull lifts out of the water and only the back part is touching. This reduces drag and the speed increases. The trick is to get the dinghy out of the water first and this needs a powerful engine or a light dinghy. The Avon RIBs are not light, having a ridged base with blow up tubes on the sides and front. The original engine fitted was a 8HP Yamaha. This would not quite get the dinghy on the plane with one person aboard. I therefore ordered a 20HP Honda 4 stroke motor with electric start. Bliss. It duly arrived and at 56kg was a handful to mange for the two of us but we managed to get it on the RIB and off we shot. It did get on the plane with the two of us on board but only just. We used it for the 2012 season in the UK and fitted a crane to the transom of Sephina so we could store it for the Atlantic crossing. But.... It was so heavy the bracket on the transom was not big enough to hold the weight. As there were so many jobs to do and it was fine on the back of the dinghy lifted up on the davits, it fell down our list of must do's until a week before departure. We decided to weld a bracket to the side of the davits but when James the welder looked at it he was unhappy with the loads the welds would have to support. With only two days to go we cut our losses, left the 20HP at home and went to the chandlery to get a lighter motor. All that was available was a 5HP Honda, it would never get us to plane but It would at least get us on and off the boat, was significantly lighter and would fit the existing mounting on Sephina. My mate Jon knew it was not really powerful enough but time had run out. So here we are in Grenada and now we need to sort this properly. We have had enough of pottering around in a slow dinghy and taking ages to go anywhere. Reading around and looking at what other cruisers have led us to the Nissan (Tohatsu) 9.8HP two stroke. (2 strokes are a lot lighter than 4 strokes but are banned in a lot of countries as exhaust emissions are too high). Talking to the supplier, he assured us it would get the RIB on the plane with two people aboard. We purchased it and mounted it and we set off from the dock full of anticipation. Dinghy TransomeIt was a lot faster than the 5HP but it would not plane. Ju got out and I set off to see if it would plane with one. It just about did and when the forward part of the hull was out of the water the speed increased and I was flying. More reading and the addition of “Dole fins” which add a wing just above the prop seems to help get on the plane. These were fitted and certainly made it quicker to get on the plane one up but it was still tantalising close with two. More reading and a finer pitch prop would give more initial power to get up to planing speed, this took two weeks to arrive. In the mean time we had met another couple on a fabulous Oyster 53 Amelie who were bemoaning the fact that as another boat had parked next to them they could no longer lift their dinghy onto the davits to drain it of water. I asked them if they had a simple plastic bailer which could do the job just as well! The owner looked at me quizzically and said that would not drain the space between the floor and the hull. What space between the floor and the hull I asked? He showed me a second drain hole just below the main one which drains water out of the ridged part of the hull. It is known as the inner hull drain plug. I had never seen this drain plug and when I went to look at our dinghy sure enough there was a second plug. It had never been opened and the washer had perished. I hoisted the dinghy onto the davits opened the normal drain plug to let the rain water out of the floor and the asked Ju to get on the paddle board to reach the newly discovered drain plug. She ventured forth and unscrewed it to a sudden shriek as foul smelling water shot out all over her. She bolted to the shower block not best pleased. The water continued to pour out for at least 10 minutes and was so foul our friends on Amelie thought we were draining the toilet holding tanks!  The new prop had now arrived and it was a five minute job to fit it. So with new prop and a lighter dinghy Ju and I set off to see if it would plane. It was like a bull out of a gate.  It sprang onto the plane in seconds and sped off at what seemed lightening speed. I suspect the removal of that foul smelling water was the major factor. 

West Indies cricket

Caribbean Premier LeagueYesterday I sat through a game of cricket that lasted for 2 and a half hours!

I’ve never really understood the rules or seen the fun in a cricket match that goes on for days but this was different.  A 20/20 match, and I really enjoyed it. Guyana were playing Antigua to open the season at Grenada’s National Stadium and play was fast and furious. There was a costume procession around the stadium before the game started and again at half time, including some dancers covered in oil, wearing helmets with horns. Very loud Caribbean music played randomly, cheer leaders on podiums shook pom-poms every time their team scored a run.  There was a dog that kept circling the stadium and even crossed the pitch a few times as the game carried on regardless.  Everyone was jigging along to the music, it was contagious. Even the groundsmen that were repainting the white lines at half time were wriggling their bottoms as they went about their work.  

If cricket was like this back in the UK I'd be hooked!


I am fading...


The Handsome one...The tips of my ears are going grey my paws are milk chocolate and my nose looks like an old cat. This seems to be something to do with the warm climate. Siamese points (the tips) are darker in cold climates. When I was In Wales I was king of cats. Everybody thought I was a show cat. But now. The indignity. The only upside is no one knows me and the locals have never heard of Siamese cats. So Peri and I are the best looking cats on the island. Well Peri is the second best looking. So where are we? Another island in the West Indies. They all blend into one but I have heard the owners say this one has better weather. Apparently some nasty swirling winds can get up your fur and it is not nice. The winds all have names. If the wind got up my jacksey I could not print the name I would give them! We have been on some walks but they are more for the benefit of the owners than us. When will they get we that can't wear shoes and our paws are delicate on the hot concrete. Once in a while they go early in the morning if one of the owners has finished her obsesive running. Cool on the paws.

The good news is the rumbling monster under the kitchen has been quiet for a while. They have been giving it lots of care and attention, cleaning, new liquid and more love than it deserves. They keep referring to it as the mighty Yanmar. If I had my way that would be a good name for the first big wind but unfortunately they begin with the letter “A” so let's hope I don't get my wish. If we get to “Y” my fur might be beyond redemption. 

Lamb…..One of the good things of being in a posh boat park is you get a better class of people. Call me snobby if you like but the chances of some tasty left overs is always a possibility. And so it was this morning. One of the boats Amelie with the "Ham and Egg" flag lives up to its name. Not only do they have ham and egg for breakfast but they have 3 course gourmet dinners cooked by their chef. I'm sure he thinks he owns the boat but boats that size always have crew. One of the crew who always has a beer in his hand tipped us off that there was lamb on the menu. Well bring it on. I even tolerated Peri for a while while we waited for it to be cut up. My fur is positively shining right now.


An uncomfortable day

PeriPeri What a traumatic day we’ve had!

We’d only just finished breakfast when the owners put us in our travel box and then put us in a trolley contraption to wheel us down past the other boats and along a bumpy track to a car. The man driving said he had some friends who had cats that lived in their house and he was surprised how clean the house was (what’s he saying?). His friends fed their cats every morning (what’s strange about that?) and even talked to them which he thought was unusual.(what’s his problem?)  Thornton and I exchanged worried looks and kept quiet. Then we arrived at a place that smelt of other cats and dogs and we ended up on a black table, as usual, to be inspected.

Thornton and I had discussed tactics on the journey and I’d volunteered to go first.  A dark lady stroked me and I thought I’d be ok. She felt me all over and tickled me a bit but I didn’t mind. Then she shoved something up my bottom and carried on talking to my owners.  I couldn’t believe that they hadn’t seen her do this and just froze, hoping they’d do something. After a while, the black lady removed the thing from my bottom, much to my relief, but then she stuck a needle in my leg. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse she used a big stick to shove a pill down my throat. I was gagging by this time and just wanted to get back in my carrier but she made me drink some water, force fed again, before I was allowed to go.

When I got into my carrier I collapsed at Thornton’s feet. (I didn’t need to, but thought it would be a laugh.) Thornton tried to make himself even smaller and cowered at the back of the carrier but the owners dragged him out. His fur was all fluffed up and he was very sweaty. I’ve never seen him shed so much fur. The table was covered and one of the owners had put on a black t-shirt that soon turned white. I winced when the lady shoved the thing up his bottom and I saw his back claws dig in. I felt a bit guilty then for teasing him.

Once his ordeal was over we were taken back to the car and trolleyed back to our home.  We were both worn out and slept for the rest of the day. My leg hurts a lot now where the lady put the needle in. My favourite owner noticed me limping and has been lifting me everywhere to save me having to use my muscles. 

I think they do care about us, despite subjecting us to that ordeal.

June in Grenada

Port Louis MarinaIt’s coming to the end of our first month in Grenada and we’ve managed to do some sight seeing to get our bearings and also catch a few buses to see what they’re like.  All in all, it’s a nice friendly place and the locals are very hospitable. We got the bikes out and have cycled into town a few times, that takes nerves of steel as the roads are quite busy and the lorries here don’t take any prisoners. There was a bit too much interest in our bikes in St.George so we did a u-turn and headed back to the marina rather than trust leaving them in sight even though they’re alarmed.

We have some nice neighbours on our pontoon, fellow Oyster owners, so bound to be nice!

We’ve discovered some nice places to eat other than the marina restaurant, which is pretty good. There’s a great Sushi bar that does home deliveries (dangerous) and there’s a good food mall at an out of town shopping centre. True to form, we like to eat where the locals eat and have sampled some recommended local haunts. There’s a restaurant opposite the entrance to the marina and it’s like going to someone’s house. There’s no menu to choose from and they just bring dish after dish after dish after dish until you’re fit to explode. Then they bring pudding! 

We did a taxi tour covering the south of the island and first stop was a rum factory, home territory for me. We had our own guide who took us around the old part of the factory where they’d kept the original machinery that had been used to break down sugar cane in the days before they imported the molasses. It was really interesting to see the old machinery and learn about the process used to create the rum. We had the obligatory rum tasting at the end of the tour and as usual I ended up on the other side of the bar for a photo. We bought 5 bottles of various strengths to add to my expanding, almost impressive collection. Rum tasting Grenada  Next stop was a herb and spice garden where we were invited to smell a large selection of leaves and twigs that were snapped off and handed to us. My nose was on overtime. The guide was extremely knowledgeable about all the plants but I was a bit dubious as she rattled off all the ailments that some of them ‘allegedly’ cured. It’s a wonder that anyone gets ill over here!   We were shown the humble cashew nut which is a rather odd looking thing. The nut, which is the seed, grows on the outside of the fruit and it seems a lot of effort for one little nut.  When I think of the handfuls that I devour in one sitting I think I’ll treat a packet of cashews with more respect in future.

There’s a lovely beach just around the corner from the marina that’s a short dinghy ride away and we’ve been there a few times, stopping at the Coconut bar for a drink.  The dinghy dock provides the perfect place for local kids to run along before jumping into the water and also a good place to be forcibly launched from.  A few of the lads asked us for a lift out to one of the navigation buoys as we were leaving and they clambered aboard, giggling away to each other and then as we approached the buoy they all dived in and raced back to the dock. It’s no wonder they’re as thin as rakes.

I bought a paddle board thinking that any exercise has to be good for me.  I go running at 6am in the morning but any later and it’s just too hot, so the paddle board is good fun and quite a challenge to stay upright.

Yesterday we went on another taxi tour with our neighbours and went up the north east of the island.  We went around a cocoa plantation and learnt all about cocoa pods and beans. We wandered with our guide in search of a suitable pod that he cracked open to let us taste the beans inside. The flesh around the bean tasted of citrus, very nice in fact. We were shown where they were fermented and then dried before being shipped off to make chocolate.  We drove up the road to the Grenadian Chocolate Factory. (Someone else’s front room!) This was more like it!  Beans to chocolate after passing through several different rooms and machines.  The highlight of the tour was a back room where they hand wrapped each bar of chocolate. Grenada Chocolate FactoryOne guy pouring chocolate into moulds, two girls patiently folding foil over each bar, another girl hand writing something on each paper wrapper (the date maybe) and then a final girl putting the wrapper on. Unbelievable! Loved it!   We were treated to a tasting. 60% cocoa (nice) up to 100% (vile). 71% being my favourite.

We then went to another rum distillery but it left a lot to be desired. The guide obviously didn't want to be there and the buildings were a bit stinky. To be fair to them, they were still using exactly the same processes and equipment that they’d been using for the last few hundred years but it didn’t entice the taste buds. They actually made their own molasses and there was a mountain of left over sugar cane pulp and a working water wheel.  Vaguely interesting!

We didn’t buy any rum!

There’s plenty to see and do on this island so I don’t think we’re going to be bored between now and November.  We have weekly conference calls via Skype with Carina and Steph to catch up on all the news. Carina is moving house next month and Steph is busy with her wedding plans so there’s plenty to catch up on!

The cats are fine and have their own routine.  They never cease to amaze me, they’re so adaptable and so goddam cute!