And so, on the 9th June 2015, our first sailing season as full-time cruisers came to an end with a champagne sail into Prickly Bay, Grenada - Our home for the next few months, having completed 2123NM. What a wonderful season it was, both on the water and off, although we certainly weren't short of tough sails which provided some great experience. It was, however, time for respite, recharging and spending time with family and friends in Ireland and England, as well as completing our final training course in Hamble, England. But not before we received the news, while out celebrating, that our son, Keenan, had passed his check ride and was officially an airline Captain. Of course, this called for a celebratory dinner - Bangers and Mash, accompanied by delicious Bordeaux. The icing on the cake was getting to see the Southern Cross that evening - the first time since leaving Bonaire. A perfect ending to a perfect day!
With another island came another reconnaissance. On our first day out we went in search of all the basic services sailors’ need - laundry, fuel, propane, groceries, chandleries, as well as those luxury items that make this lifestyle all worthwhile - beaches, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, entertainment, diving, snorkelling, etc. It didn't take us long to realise we had stumbled into Camp Grenada, a summer camp for sailors.
Entertainment included Mexican train domino and chess competitions, bingo nights with bizarre prizes ranging from money to rabbits, goats, sheep and even a cow; Trivia evenings, live music, including a Benefits Concert for Dominica after Hurricane Danny destroyed the island. Dancing under the stars to steel pan drums, movie nights, "2 for 1" and "½ price" pizza nights, yoga, tai chi, dinghy floats, island tours, "fish Friday", "bring and braai" dinners where we were able to reward ourselves with some "boerewors", purchased from "Le Burcher" in Prickly Bay - Who would have thought, considering we were unable to enjoy any during our latter years in Phoenix - No one was willing to share.
Our second reconnaissance took us on a hike to the various anchorages east of Prickly Bay - Worthwhile indeed as we concluded that we'd picked the better anchorage after all and rewarded our efforts with a delicious lunch at the Calabash Resort. One of our coolest experiences of the season was witnessing the leatherback turtles coming ashore, in the dead of night, to nest and lay their eggs, as well as getting to see some hatchlings.
It is a little difficult to capture how we feel right now. Our first sailing season as full-time cruisers has come to an end. We will never have another first and this brought about a sense of sadness after our arrival in Prickly Bay, Grenada on Tuesday, 9th June, 2015. On the other hand, we had a great sense of achievement mixed with relief, particularly on Elaine's part, as we'd actually achieved another goal! (Go Liverpool! – Roy’s editing). On reflection, it was a tough season. Strong winds, high seas, numerous northerly swells that turned normally protected leeward anchorages into washing machines and where a simple task like getting in or out of our dinghy was hazardous. But, we have wonderful memories and enjoyed experiences we never imagined in our wildest dreams - Learning to dive in Bonaire as well as meeting a host of wonderful sailors who are all now safely across the Pacific Ocean. Diving with dolphins in Curacao. Enjoying the hospitality of wonderful friends while in Puerto Rico, Campechano (Babbie and Ronnie), who welcomed us into their family's home for Thanksgiving. Our first family Christmas with Keenan aboard Paw Paw, as well as a fairyland New Year in North Sound, British Virgin Islands. Enjoying both Elaine's and Roy's birthdays in St Martin in the company of newfound friends, Ondular (Isabel and Mick) and wailing away many an evening teaching them to play Mexican Train Dominoes – something that has become somewhat of a tradition on Paw Paw after being taught to play initially by Cattiva (Maria and Maurice) in Bonaire. Learning to play Wizard and enjoying plenty of laughs in the process aboard Galene (Rowena and Richard) in White House Bay, St Kitts, where the waves were so huge in this normally well protected anchorage, that Elaine thought she'd end up in the water while trying to get back to Paw Paw. Roy catching our one and only fish to date, a Longbill Spearfish, en route to Antigua as well as celebrating Justine and Paul's birthdays in style aboard Paw Paw while there. Visiting Montserrat and witnessing the devastation of Plymouth firsthand. Swimming with some wild dolphins who decided to spend an afternoon with us in Deshaises, Guadeloupe, as well as swimming in the pool of a waterfall for the first time followed by a picnic lunch alongside a picturesque mountain river with Justine and Paul before their return to England. Swimming in the coldest water ever after a hike to the Syndicate Falls, as well as savouring the bounty of the land and the PAYS Sunday night beach barbeque in Dominica, where we first met TiSento (Agnes and Bas). Fresh baguettes, pain au chocolat, grande café and Sainte Pierre, more specifically, the ruins caused by the eruption of Mt Pelee in Martinique as well as a lovely visit from Karen and Dave, who, before we know it, will be moving aboard Paw Paw in a few short months. A tour and lunch at the Firefly Plantation in Bequia, where we sampled the sweetest guavas, learnt about the many different varieties of mangoes, which we can testify to and tasted wax apples for the first time. Finally, witnessing the nesting of leatherback turtles soon after our arrival in Grenada. All simply amazing experiences and, while there are many more, these, we believe, were definitely our sailing highlights of our first sailing season!
The experience, however, that trumps all of this was the birth of our first grandchild, William, who arrived after much ado on 18th May 2015, but not before he had us all scrambling to get our "ducks in a row". It was just three weeks earlier when Brooke went into labour while Keenan was flying a plane full of passengers to Dallas, that then had to be diverted to Houston due to bad weather and he's planned move from Washington DC to Phoenix was only taking place a week later. We were in Fort-de-France, in an anchorage where it wasn’t feasible to leave Roy and Paw Paw alone while Elaine returned to the United States and where our condo, which Keenan, Brooke and Capri were due to move into at the beginning of May, was still occupied by our tenant. Well, needless to say, we all eventually got our act together and then, surprise, surprise; William decided to wait before gracing us with his presence. A wait that was most definitely worthwhile. We did, however, end up with "two for the price of one" when Capri, Brooke's daughter entered our lives earlier in the year and stole Elaine's heart from the moment they met; a moment when a beautiful, blonde haired, blue eyed six year old came bouncing out of the bathroom, threw her arms around Elaine and proclaimed that she knew who Elaine was - "You're my Grandma!". With that, the deal was sealed!