Thursday, June 30, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
- 4 lb Fresh Tuna, filleted and skinned
- Tomatoes (Fresh and/or canned)
- Red Wine
- An assortment of seasonings (Cumin, Rosemary, Thyme, salt, pepper, hot sauce)
- Anchovies (can)
- Vegetables (for roasting)
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Tobago Cays is a special place. A horseshoe shaped reef separates the Atlantic ocean from the Caribbean sea and provides a magical anchorage. Lizzy and I, along with our friends Mark and Laura, have been lucky enough to travel to Tobago Cays twice, first in January, 2006 and last February.
The reef is almost two miles wide at its opening. There are four deserted islands inside the reef, and one island on the Atlantic side of the reef. We entered the reef by motoring between Petit Rameau and Petit Bateau and finding a spot to anchor or tie to a mooring buoy by the Turtle nesting ground along Baradel. Between 2006 and last year, the Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP) increased the number of mooring buoys. Being only an occasional sailor, I always sleep better when tied to a buoy, without the fear of the anchor slipping. This is especially true at the Cays. While the reef protects you from the surf, there is nothing stopping the wind as it blows across the Atlantic.
Snorkeling is one of the main attractions at the Cays. Depending on how hard the wind is blowing, diving at the reef can range from fair to spectacular. But what is really fun is swimming with the turtles. Many Sea Turtles nest within the reef and are at ease with the snorkelers. If you are patient and still, a turtle may even swim up to you.
The Cays are the quintessential Caribbean destination where your cares seem far away and where relaxation comes most naturally.
The Tobago Cays are also famous for its “Boat Boys” who travel each in their brightly painted speed boats from Union Island or Mayreau. Walter, in his boat Free Spirit 2, is available early in the morning to sell you fresh bread, baked by his wife Lola, for your breakfast.
Sydney has been working in the Cays for over 20 years. If you take a few minutes to get to know him a little, you’ll quickly learn that Sydney’s world is much broader than the horseshoe reef. This is certainly a combination of his everyday interactions with scores of people from all corners of the earth and from taking time to travel during the slower seasons. During the depth of the recession, Sydney offered a surprising perspective. “America needs to pull back and take care of its own back yard, even if it means that other places go down; or else there will be severe consequences.” Sydney is also happy to discuss his family. He has 12 children, two are in Germany; two are in Maryland; and the rest are in the Caribbean His oldest daughter is studying at the University of Cologne. He is quick to point out that this means that he has lots of responsibilities as he proceeds to show you his inventory of creative and well made tee shirts.
Romeo stopped by later in the day offering to sell us lobster. We asked if he had any fish, but Romeo told us that it is too rough for the fisherman to go out. He said he’d rather not be out with the wind blowing so hard, but that he “has bills to pay and customers to serve.” We asked to see the lobster which was a beautiful four-pounder. When I protested that he shouldn’t be selling lobsters with roe (eggs), he told me that I should eat the roe since it will give me stamina. Lizzy asked Romeo if his girlfriend was named Juliet, Romeo responded without missing a beat (obviously not the first time he had been asked this question) that his girlfriend was named Julia. (A few days later I ran into Romeo and Julia on Union Island. Sure enough, Julia was even more beautiful than the heartbreaker from Verona.)
I did buy Romeo’s lobster and created an original Tobago Cays recipe which I have dubbed Lobster Romeo. We had a wonderful dinner under the stars while sharing a bottle of champagne.
One of the great things about cruising is meeting other cruisers. We met an especially colorful group when we were exploring Petit Bateau one afternoon. I don’t remember any of their names, but the captain had been sailing around the Caribbean for the last several years. His son and one of his son’s friends had been along for the ride for the last year or so, and his wife would occasionally join them, while on vacation from her job in Florida. They had a bottle of rum (we had a cooler of beer and some snacks). The young man thought it would be a good idea to have Pina Coladas, so he shimmied up the tree to grab a bunch of coconuts. The captain used a machete to slice off the tops of the coconuts and added a healthy ration of rum for each of us. We shared the impromptu cocktails, told stories, laughed at jokes as the sun set on another perfect day in the Caribbean.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Off of work for the holiday week - thought I'd be able to get some time out on the road. The weather didn't cooperate; last Saturday the Snow came and has stayed all week. I got out on Saturday when the snow was just starting to come down and had a quick ride along the Canal path. There wasn't anyone else out, but I did startle a rather large wild Turkey.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Came across this bike in Miami last week. It's owner had leaned the bike against her Banyan Tree. A Banyan tree expands by dropping "prop" roots to support its broad limbs. Over time the roots merge with the trunk. It only took a few weeks for the roots to start to reach through the frame. After a month or two it would have required a saw to extract the bike. Now, far all intents, it is impossible to separate the bike from the tree. The only part of the bike that extends out of the tree is the front wheel and part of the handlebar. Within a year or so, the bike will not be visible.
If you want to be philosophical for a moment, there are a number of meanings you could take from this photo. (Feel free to add yours as a comment.) I'll just take it as a reminder to get back on the bike!
Sunday, March 29, 2009
We had booked a one-way bare-boat charter with TMM out of St. Vincent to Grenada. There are two key advantages to a one-way charter. First, you can visit more Islands since you don't have the return leg. Additionally, this allows sailing almost exclusively with favorable winds due to the prevailing direction of the Trades. This turned out to be especially advantageous during our time in the Grenadines, since the weather was unusually breezy with gusts well above 30 knots.
Getting to St. Vincent is a bit of trip in itself, since there are no direct flights. While Mark & Laura began the trip in VA and we started in NJ, we met in the San Juan, PR airport in time to catch the LIAT ("Leave Island Any Time) island hopper. The flight itself was uneventful, but Lizzy and my luggage didn't make it to St. Vincent. But what the heck, we were in the Caribbean. In the morning, along with provisioning, we picked up bathing suits, tee shirts and flip flops at the local stores. The good people at TMM assured us that, when LIAT found our luggage, they would take care of collecting it and putting it on a ferry to catch up with us (which it eventually did two days later.)
We were anxious to put to sea, and in the afternoon, we left Blue Lagoon, raised the sails and began the exhilarating sail to Bequia. Almost immediately, with the salt spray in my face, the wind in my hair and the We Two's wheel in my hands, the craziness of the last several months was left miles behind.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
As we enjoyed a cup of coffee, we were visited by a local merchant. "Hello, my name is Simon, I am mentioned in the cruising guide and sell the wine". We selected a couple of bottles. Simon clearly had been out fishing early and we bought some snapper for dinner. Simon has a good reputation among cruisers and we asked if he'd be willing to give us a tour of the Island. Simon met us at the yacht haul-out dock with his small car. Once we had squeezed into the car, I mentioned to Simon that the guide books refer to him as Simon the smuggler. He took offense at this characterization, but he didn't let his offense stand in the way of giving us a great tour of this beautiful island. We were particularly interested in visiting the local boat builders in Windward.
Monday, March 9, 2009
The check-in process is a bit cumbersome. First a stop at Customs, then Immigration, and finally with the Harbor Master. They were all in good moods and seemed anxious to move the process along so that everyone could get back to the festivities at hand.
Carnival in Carriacou is an all day affair. Early in the day is the Shakespeare Mas. Revelers take turns reciting the various parts of Shakespeare's Julius Caeser. If one misses a line, then he is playfully beaten. We tried to find out the background behind this part of the festival, and especially about the emphasis on Julius Caeser. We were simply (and proudly) told that "it is part of our culture."
Sandy Island is a small strip of perfect beach with coral reefs on either end. We dropped anchor in about 10 feet of crystal clear water just in time for a light lunch.
We spent the afternoon relaxing and taking turns snorkeling over to Sandy Island to explore the island and the reefs. The waters were complete with beautiful corals, stunning fish and even a pair of green turtles. The beach was complete with a nude sunbather (French of course, but friendly, even if she was chain-smoking!)
As the afternoon started to wane, we accepted that we needed to pull anchor and head over to Tyrell Bay. Tyrell Bay is a well-protected harbor popular with both cruisers and working fisherman. In fact, there is a "Hurricane Hole" -- a lagoon surrounded by mangroves -- that is used by hundreds of boats during large storms.
Up to this point, we had managed to overnight on a mooring, and had even tied up to the end of the dock in Union Island. While the wind had settled down, it was still gusting well above 20 knots. I was nervous about the anchor holding, especially with the number of beautiful boats close by that we would collide with in the middle of the night if our anchor started to slip. It took us three times, but finally the captain was happy that we had securely anchored far enough from other boats to sleep through the night. But first we had plans for the evening.
We got cleaned up and loaded into the dinghy. After puttering around Tyrell Bay, we ended up at the main ferry dock. This was fortuitous, since just as we were securing the dinghy, a Dollar Bus pulled up onto the dock and asked if we wanted to ride to Hillsborough. (At some point, I'll do a posting about the Dollar Buses, but for now let's just say it was only a few lively minutes before we were deposited just back outside of Carriacou's main town.) Carnival was in full swing.
Everyone at Carnival seemed to be enjoying themselves (although some of the younger revelers looked pain exhausted even though it was still early in the evening.) This women was really enjoying being costumed and getting lots of attention. As is evident in the photo, the audience was also getting a kick out of her .
What you don't get from the picture is the sense of the lively and loud Caribbean music.
After enjoying the festivities for a while, we walked through town to the Green Roof Inn. The Green Roof Inn is a small guesthouse and restaurant a mile or so North of Hillsborough. Except for the faint pounding of the amplified music wafting across the harbor, it could have been in a different world.
We had a wonderful meal on the veranda overlooking the harbor. At one point, just before they were ready to serve our entree, the electricity in the restaurant cut out. We could tell that power was fine in the rest of the Island since we could still see the lights on in Hillsborough and hear the deep bass of the Carnival bands rumble across the water. The friendly staff at the Green Roof Inn never missed a beat. They brought out a few extra candles and served an exquisite meal.
After such a luxurious meal, we were not ready to crowd into a Dollar Bus, and asked the restaurant to call us a cab. We were happy when we got back to Tyrell Bay and found that We Two's anchor was still holding!