A PERIPATETIC JOURNEY
not all who wander are lost
The trip around the south end of Grenada was bouncy! We hadn't needed to head straight into the wind for a few months! Fortunately it was a short motor around to Clarke's Court Bay. Our week and a half at Clarke's Court and Le Phare Bleu was quite social. Rum Tum Tiger, Tell Tales Again, and Maple were all in the bay and we got together in some combination almost every night. Janet and Darryl on Maple kindly took the girls for a full 24 hours so we could make more efficient preparations for haul out. The day before our haul out, we emptied our refrigerator and freezer so they could thaw. Over the months, we had gradually lost fridge and freezer space to the 3-5" of accumulated ice on both left and right sides of each. We had a few surprises as the ice melted: long-lost blocks of cheese emerged on the fridge side and two packages of our favorite kielbasa from Kelsick Market in Gloucester VA were freed from the ice in the freezer. The crew of SV Maple were the lucky(?) recipients of everything salvaged from the ice.
The Le Phare Bleu Marina was named after the circa 1900 Swedish lightship moored to the dock. The lightship housed the cruiser's lounge, book exchange, showers and bathrooms, a small museum, and a bar/music venue on the upper level.
We spent about a week at the Le Phare Bleu marina so we could have power and water while we cleaned and prepped Counting Stars for summer storage on the hard. The marina has a restaurant, bar (on the lightship), and a pool. We were particularly excited about the pool and being able to cool off in it after hours of boat work in the heat. Sadly, the pool closed for renovations two days into our weeklong stay. The kids were absolute troopers during this hot and hectic week, pitching in to help in many ways, but also finding time to read in the shade of palm trees on the beach. They also enjoyed the chance to spend time with friends of all ages before heading back to the States.
It was sea turtle nesting season in Grenada, so one evening we went with a small group (including Mike and Eva from Tell Tales Again) to a commonly used nesting beach at the north end of the island. We left the marina around 5:30pm and arrived at the sea turtle center just after 7:00. After a brief presentation, we continued to the remote beach and waited. And waited. Biologists and volunteers were on the lookout for sea turtles, texting back and forth with each other. Brian and Kendall chatted with Mike and Eva while the kids tried to get a little sleep on tables and benches nearby. Marin was startled awake by a centipede crawling on her neck (remember the Carriacou centipedes?), so she, Eoin, and Isla went to the van and stretched out on the seats to sleep.
Finally, around 10:00, our guide received news that there was a turtle on the beach. We woke the kids and the guide led us single file down the beach to the nesting spot. She was a leatherback measuring at least 5' from the front to back of her carapace and over 4' at the widest point just behind her head. We used only the red lights on our headlamps to see her (white lights would have been frightening and disorienting to the turtle). When we arrived, she had almost finished digging the hole in which she would lay her eggs. She was measured and information from her id tags was read and recorded. We learned that she had first been tagged on Grenada a few years previously. Kendall sat on the beach with Isla in her lap and asked Isla what she thought. Isla's response in a voice filled with awe: "She's beautiful."
Soon the turtle began to lay her eggs. This phase of the nesting process did not take long and once finished, she began to fill the hole. For at least an hour, perhaps more, the turtle filled the hole, then moved along the beach disturbing a wide swath of sand in order to conceal her nest from predators (birds, reptiles, humans). Finally she was satisfied with her work. She turned and slowly made her way toward the breaking waves. We were allowed to follow her down the beach at a safe distance so we could watch her disappear into the sea. It was an incredible experience. We returned to the van to begin the hour and a half drive back to the south end of the island. It was a long and exhausting evening, but everyone agreed that the experience was well worth it.
Counting Stars was hauled out on June 6 (blog post addressing the haul out coming soon!). We rented rooms at the boatyard and spent the next couple of days finishing boat chores, cleaning, changing oil etc, pickling the watermaker, organizing guardianage (hiring a local company to keep an eye on the boat and oversee repairs while we're away), meeting with contractors (rigger and sail maker), and spending time with friends. We had already said good-bye to Curt and Nancy; Mike and Eva sailed west a few days later. Two days before our flight back to the States, SV Element arrived in the bay and we enjoyed an evening out with the crews from Maple and Element.
On the morning of June 9, we climbed the ladder to Counting Stars and sat in the cockpit for a few minutes to reflect on the past 12 months. We'd lived aboard for exactly one year, and had been traveling for 8 months. We had survived the first year of boat school, made some wonderful friends who touched our lives and hearts in so many ways, hadn't hit anything (above or below the water), still loved each other, and were ready for more travel and adventure. It hadn't always been easy or fun or comfortable or even exciting, but it had always been us together, working toward the same goals: to be together as a family, to travel and see new places and meet new people, to be fully involved with our kids' education, to become more self-reliant, and to reach beyond our comfort zones. And fortunately, most of the time it was truly enjoyable, exciting, and rewarding.
It will be a busy few months back in the States going to camp (the kids), working, visiting friends and family, and traveling. We'll also be researching new downwind sails, a backup watermaker, reading up on routes west through the Caribbean, ordering boat parts and supplies and toys (maybe a drone!), choosing next year's boat school curriculum, and keeping in touch with friends in the Caribbean.
McGlynn family 5 (Isla, Marin, Eoin, Kendall, and Brian) sailing Counting Stars