It’s all about being on the water…

 

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Ready for haul-out!
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Out of the water for the summer!
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Sunday cruisers playday!

So the pics you see here in the beginning of this blog show us closing Lost Loon in May at Clarkes Court in Grenada. We were fortunate to have an uneventful process. The “carefree” sailing days are replaced with a few tolerable hot, dusty days in the yard. Bittersweet, we need to return to land life and see family as well as manage other parts of our life. As of this writing, we are now about 4 weeks from returning to spend another Winter in the Caribbean! The count down has begun!

We continue to live as vagabonds from one short term habitation to the next (or as gypsies..so well put by a close dentist friend of ours!) For the summer, we spent most of the time at our 3- season place on Lake Vermilion. We have completed the renovation we started last year transforming a 1950s cabin to a nice comfortable lake cottage. We also traveled to Illinois and North Carolina and spent valuable time with family in those locations. And of course passed several weekends with our Minnesota family and precious growing granddaughter! ( permission granted by the parents  allows me to share one of my favorite pics!!)

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They have been gracious to provide us with a warm bed and sustenance throughout the last few months, as well as priceless moments with “nos petite fille”!

The summer passed quickly. We spent time fishing, hiking, harvesting wild blueberries, and putting a new steel roof on the cottage.

 

Our life on the lake is challenging because we are on the north part of the lake further than the road extends. We have to boat everything in we use. This includes ..yes even the new steel roofing supplies. Thanks to Mike and Chris…their ingenuity made this possible.

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In making our new cottage unique, my friend Cynthia and I decided to paint a door. this was a very enjoyable weekend project..and priceless piece of art!

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There were a few days we did get out fishing…a passion of Mike’s and caught some beauties, northern Minnesota walleye! We also received our scout firefighter’s badge one day. There was a slight breeze that afternoon as we headed out to Big Bay on the lake for musky fishing (truth be told Mike fishes and I make sure I have a good book). As the breeze picked up and the afternoon progressed, we noticed a plume of smoke coming from a small island. It became darker, and in seconds we could see flames from about 1 mile away. We quickly proceeded to the location, where we expected to find someone burning a huge fire. To our surprise, there was no one around and a large part of the island was covered in fire. I tried calling 911, but with variable cell service cut out. Mike drove to a close spot where we thought it would be better and 911 was calling me back! I spent some precious 5 minutes telling the dispatch person the locations of the fire, knowing he needed to communicate this with the fire boat. I was assured they were on their way asap and told not to put myself in danger. We ran across the bay and procured two 5 gallon buckets with the intent of saving the island.  We returned and inched the boat as close to the rocks without damaging the boat so we could get off. We were soon running a 2 person bucket brigade. We did have one other boat show up and with their 2 gallon bucket they had aboard, assist in putting out some of the “small stuff”, but there was a huge tree on fire that would take the professionals. Soon we saw them coming. as the fire boat approached we got off the island, noticing a small area where there may have been a campsite in the recent past….. Most of the fire was doused by the sole volunteer fireman.

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During the months in Minnesota, I was able to work part-time at a local clinic. ( a shout-out to my new colleagues in Virginia , MN!! thanks for a great summer!) I worked in the family practice and urgent care areas 2-3 days per week.  This afforded me the opportunity to maintain my license and continue to do something I truely enjoy. It was a mere 30 minute drive, but that was after the 20 minute boat ride acrosss the lake to get to the vehicle. This was not unlike our travels to get anywhere on Lost Loon. It was a great plan, most of the summer. I had only one late afternoon storm to wait out before getting Mike across the lake to pick me up. It wasnt until late September…my last days of work…and late days getting off work at 7 PM when arriving at the boat landing some days at 7:45 were getting chilly. By the first of October the days were chilly. We were having some night to 30 degrees and daytime highs of 40.

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Morning ride to work!

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Yes, this is a picture of a 3 inch snowfall. Quite unusual and unexpected for this time of year. Mike actually had to snovel snow out of the boat for the first time since we have been coming to the cabin We are usually lucky to have until the middle of October to close things down, but by October 9th, we woke to temps in the very low 30s overnight and one partially frozen pipe. After Mike returned from thawing this with a hairdryer, we made the obvious decision to pack-it-up and head out. We had spent the last few nights, waking to check the water in the faucets and were not in the mood to wake to more pipes to thaw or worse broken ones! The job is fairly straighforward: pack clothes, clean everything out of the refrigerator, turn the water off and drain off the pipes, take apart the dock and lift it out of the water, cover the single pane windows with shutters. We have done this in an afternoon and were able to complete everything in about 3 and 1/2 hours. The sun provided us some warmth, but for this time of year, unexpectedly cold!

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Remote pond, Boundary Waters, Minnesota

So the next question…..where to go?  We decided to remain “off the grid” and head for a shared cabin in Superior Wisconsin …intended for deer hunting. It sits on 100 acres of woods in the most northwestern part of Wisconsin, along the Minnesota border. We had a few hours to prepare ourselves for the primative  living…no plumbing, no running water, heated by wood burning stove. It happens to be just 8 miles south of the city of Superior, so not so far off the grid as it sounds. We stayed here 4 nights before moving on. We enjoyed a few nice Fall days of hiking and  bird hunting (the guys…not me).

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After a couple of days with our family, we have traversed south for a few weeks with friends in Florida, boating and diving, where we will escape the onslaught of cool temps in the Midwest and dream of sailing days to come!

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Back to Grenada…. more hashing and land cruising for waterfalls

 

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Here is an update on our Spring 2018 travels…best intentions have fallen a bit short. Thanks for coming back! I need to get this season finished before Season 3 begins in November!!!! As the days get shorter here in northern MN, so the temperature drops. As I finish adding my pics to this blog, I listen to a local weather report predicting snow fall tonight of between 1-3 inches! Yikes…so far from our other home with warm water and soft breezes!

 

 

 

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Travelling with our friends on SV Artemis

 

Our travels for the spring have nearly come to an end as we approach the first week of May. With our friends on SV Artemis we make our way to the northern end of the island of Grenada with enough days to explore the western coast before our haul-out day. We spend a night at Halifax Harbor, once known to be smelly and Smokey it turns out to be a quiet anchorage with some nice snorkeling and calm overnight waters. ( well we do experience an odor of smoke in the middle of the night… it’s not so hot and we close a few hatches and manage to sleep) we have been lucky again this year to have only a handful nights that we have had restless sleep due to wind and waves. ( I recall a night or possibly 2 in DeShais Guadeloupe where we rocked and rolled like a bucking bronco at the county fair because of high winds, And we may have had a night or 2 as well in the islands if the BVIs during the Christmas winds that lasted through most of January!)

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South of Halifax we cruised to the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park. How cool. We negotiate to a spot near the suspect grounds and are early enough in the morning to find a couple of mooring balls available. Once secure we are snorkeling above some very neat concrete structures. This was one of the first of its kind. Open in 2006 and thanks to British sculptor Jason deClaires Taylor there is a garden of figures to view. Apparently a local sculptor has added structures in the recent years. I wish I had pictures to share but my GoPro was out of battery charge. I can direct you to the Pure Grenada website for pictures of the Underwater sculpture park. And coming back in the Fall, I know we will stop there and this time be prepared to take some pics!!

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We moseyed on just a mere mile to the anchorage at St George’s. This is a nice spot to get to Grand Anse beach and the major part of town. We stayed long enough to make a trip to Island Water World… one of our favorite marine supply stores throughout the Caribbean. We had pre-ordered our expensive bottom paint so we have it upon our return in November.

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We also made it a point to take a walk to the beach. By this time of year it really heats up and most of the tourists are gone , the beach huts are closing, and the students at the University are making their last trips to this wonderful beach. We ran into a few locals enjoying the warm calm waters.

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As much time as we spend in these beautiful waters we can still get a sense of relaxation walking in the soft sand playing with the waves that gently crest at our feet.

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After 3 days we were back on our way to the final anchorage of the season. Clarke’s Court Bay is about 6 miles but the sail is a challenge. We headed out of St George’s bay to the southwest on a down wind run in 10 knots of breeze. As we made a turn to the south and as usual found the easterly trades coming face on! As it happens the waves here are making their way around this shoreline and tend to add to the mess. In addition there is one large reef to avoid making this turn, and so it’s called our Final Challenge. We end up tacking back and forth enough times to make even the most seasoned sailor dizzy. Heaven help us should we encounter another vessel making the opposite trip!! We usually have to turn on the engine to assist our travels through this maze and are grateful when we thread the needle between the rocks and shoals to Clarke’s Court Bay.

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Seriously , this is on the way out of the anchorage, ahead is where it gets dicey!!

We spend more than enough time this morning trying to find a spot in the bay that appears to have clear water, but is also out of the prevailing east-southeast winds. In fact, we fall back to a location we have been before and find it comfortable, however a bit murky.

It’s the beginning of bittersweet moments we will experience as we prepare to leave Lost Loon for the summer.

Over the next week we spend our time making lists of boat items we need, repairs to be done in the Fall, and rearrange as we begin packing up. It’s not all work. We meet other cruisers and enjoy 2 great Hash events in some awesome places around the island. The first is on the north east coast that is littered with waterfalls. The red van is full of passengers all decked out in walking and hiking attire. We head out to the tune of Hello by Kes . Typical Trinidadian music…..but…over and over! By the time we arrived at the event site we were ready to be walking but patiently wait with other hashers and locals for the “send-off”

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There was a disclaimer announcement that this was an extraordinary long hike/ run. How true. We started in St Andrews and went as far south as Mt Carmel waterfalls and back north again.

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The route took us over and through the woods and past overlooks like we have never seen.

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One lookout along an old rock fence we could see Marquis island along the eastern shoreline.

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And took us past some local wildlife, just enjoying their afternoon as well.

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We took our time to enjoy this lush tropical region, but after nearly 3 miles ( maybe more?) we were exhausted. Following a brief meal and a few beers we loaded our stinky selves back in the van for a stop at 2 rum shops the Bumpy Corner Bar and one other along with more Kes!

The fun gave us just the ambition to tackle the jobs ahead for the week…remove and wash sails, clean and polish all stainless, remove settee covers , wash, replace, remove solar panels, clean our dear Patches , the dinghy, and retire her to the forward deck, reorganize a multitude of storage bins,mend boat covers, check outdates on batteries, medication, and Epirbs (the units that will send an emergency satellite notification should we need rescue!), and make lists of all the equipment we need to bring back.

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With our friends on Artemis leaving we decide to rent a vehicle together and see some of the island. We take a long day in search of waterfalls. We have a crude map and make our first turn outside St George’s and find ourselves at the end of a short road. We are surprised that we don’t see signs, but we head up on foot now toward what appears to be a trail.

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We pass cocoa and mango trees, see where there is obvious clearing. After about 15 min think we hear water rushing and feel we’re on the right track, until we see a local farmer tilling up the hillside. We question him about the falls and he tells us we are on private land and must head down the road further for the entrance to Concord Falls. We proceed back on the trail enjoying the tropical forest. We get back on the road and realize we needed to just head only a 1/2 mile further and we would have made our first destination.

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Concord is beautiful from the road, but to get a better view we pay a small fee and descend to one of the small pools that make up this attraction. The water is crystal and there is something about water falling from a height that is pretty darn incredible.

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We buy a beer and chat with some of the vendors who set up shop here during the day. Back in the car, we head up the west coast stopping at Gouyave for a picture of a beautiful church and stay for a beer and lunch.

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We sat in a restaurant along the street side in the hot sun, where the breeze didn’t reach us so another cool beverage was welcome. With our nutrition replenished we carried on northward. We made it as far as seven sisters Falls.

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A quiet respite all to ourselves. We enjoy the cool FRESH water. Our guide we have hired to take us here tells of the history of this area and some interesting facts about the nature.

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He commented off the cuff that he sees monkeys quite often feeding in the trees, and lo and behold we are walking back to the vehicle on a beautiful footpath and hear a rustling, high overhead. we watched 2 monkeys playing and feeding on the tender branches of the trees. (sorry, there are no good pictures…just very cool memories!)

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Gardens on the way to the falls

Next up…a Chocolate HASH, and our final week in Grenada.