Let the adventure begin again

I am not even going to look at when I made my last blog post as it was so embarrassingly long ago.  Trust that now that we have some interesting stuff on tap, the blogging schedule will become more regular.

For the first time in seven years, we decided to leave Kestrel on the hard for the hurricane season and do some travelling.  In May we put her on the hard at Clarke’s Court Boatyard in Grenada, secured the exterior for any possible storms, and hired our usual guardianage company, Island Dreams, to check on her every month and report back to us.  I won’t lie, it was a strange and unsettling feeling to have her so far away while we were gone for several months.

They are serious about hurricane preparedness here; boats are strapped down to concrete blocks at the four bow and stern cleats.

One benefit to going back to the US for a while was we were able to take a ton of things we have accrued in our travels off the boat.  We had four 50-pound bags when we flew back, and they were filled with a dizzying array of things.  Fifteen minutes before our flight was supposed to board, I was summoned to the Grenada airport security office to open one of my bags for a search; the combination of silverware, scuba computers, and our dog’s urn confounded the x-ray machine.  Imagine me sweating bullets while trying to explain my dog’s “cremains” to the confused security officer.  I’ve never been so relieved to get on a plane.

While we were back in the US, we tackled some large home improvement projects on the house I inherited from my mom.  While none of them were hugely fun, they were satisfying to complete.  We were also able to take road trips to see friends and family, which felt wonderful.  We added in a just-for-fun road trip up through Illinois (most tollways ever), Wisconsin (cheese curds, here’s looking at you!), and Minnesota (state bird: mosquito) up to Thunder Bay, Ontario.  We dove into volunteering with the county’s forest preserves, which are huge, and spent many hours clearing invasive plants (i.e. pulling weeds), cutting and burning invasive trees (much more satisfying), and collecting seeds from native plants for planting next year.  We indulged in our hobbies and reveled in food we never get to have:  deep dish pizza, tacos from the mercado, gyros, sushi, and of course, Chinese takeout and donuts.

We returned to Kestrel in early October and have been working on getting her back to prime condition. 

Boats are packed in here with only inches between them. Here is our bowsprit hanging inches from the very large, very expensive Amel sailboat that was in front of us.

The project list was not too bad as we make it a point to maintain her as we go along.  We ended up doing the usual post-haul jobs of sanding and painting the bottom, waxing the hull, deep cleaning the interior, servicing the engine, general polishing and spiffing up, small repairs and touchups, and the like.

As Grenada is a volcanic island, flat land is scarce and worth its weight in gold. The boatyard had some flat land (a former lava flow) and then made more by carving into the surrounding hills. You can see the jungle hanging over, hoping for some purchase.

We splashed today, and it’s a relief to be back in the water. 

Clarke’s Court has a massive boat lift that can handle 242 tons, but for boats that don’t require that kind of power, they use a beefy tractor and a submersible trailer to move and splash boats. That allows for pretty incredible precision in placing the boats on the hard; here they have backed the trailer up to our bow. Whatever they pay the tractor driver, it isn’t enough.
There she goes, chugging through the yard on her yellow chariot.

We will head over to Prickly Bay and grab a mooring for probably a month while we wait out weather, do some maintenance on the dinghy and watermaker, and reprovision.  Then it’s time to set for sea! Our plan is to head north and visit the Caribbean islands we had to skip on our mad dash from Antigua to Grenada (yeah, thanks for that, COVID).  Of course, we know how our plans usually end up—nowhere near what we actually do. But it’s all good, wherever we end up.

Ah, goodness, finally–back to island life.