Monthly Archives: September 2015

Cruisers Coming Together for a Good Cause – by Ryan

Recently the cruising community came together to raise money for a local orphanage, Queen Elizabeth Home for Children (QEHFC). All the adults were raising money so the kids could have school supplies and shoes because it’s back to school for the kids on Grenada. I said adults, but Ronan and I also donated money and toys to the orphanage. We also made brownies for the kids, and picked up Chelsea Buns at the Merry Baker for someone else going to the fundraiser. It was about a ten minute drive through St. Georges from Port Louis Marina until we reached the orphanage. Other boat kids were in the bus with us also going to the orphanage. When we got to the orphanage we put the brownies under the pavilion where a couple of boaters were setting up to play music for the lunch. Next, we all had lunch and played with the kids. We got to check out the inside of the building where the kids slept and also where they did their homework. We played games like soccer and tag with the kids. They had good music and some of the kids sang. After everyone ate lunch they gave each of the kids their own note book that was bought with the money that was donated. Eventually we had to stop having fun and head back to the marina. The day after the lunch some of the cruisers went with the kids from the orphanage to go buy new shoes. To protect the privacy of the minor children at the home no photographs were permitted to be taken of the event.

S/V Savvy

S/V Savvy

Today the cruisers once again came together and organized a day of fun for the kids from QEHFC. The owner of Port Louis Marina was kind enough to let the kids go out on his sail boat for a sail. Since there were so many kids and not enough lifejackets, the cruisers, including Ronan and I, lent children’s life jackets for the sail. I hope they have a great sail and that we impacted their lives in a positive way.


Belmont Estate 17th Century Historic Working Plantation, Grenada – by Ronan

Two weeks ago our boat neighbors on “M/V Seamantha” invited us to go to the Belmont Estate. The Belmont Estate is a 17th century historic working plantation. We took a taxi to Belmont Estate. When we got there our tour guide showed us a table full of local fruits. He told us which ones you could eat and which ones were poisonous.

Ronan with Cocoa Pod

Ronan with Cocoa Pod

After he was done talking about the fruits, we went out into the cocoa fields. My brother Ryan got to pick a cocoa pod right off the tree and I got to smash it on a rock to open it. The tour guide told us we could suck on a cocoa bean but we couldn’t swallow it. Our guide also told us it taste like Skittles or Starburst. I don’t like Skittles or Starburst but I tried it anyway. I didn’t like it at all.

After the fields we went to the place where they used to dry the cocoa beans in the sun. Now they dry the beans inside shelter because then they dry better and don’t get wet in the rain. We got to try nibs which are small bits of dried cocoa beans that have no sugar added, just 100 percent cocoa. It might sound good but in my opinion it was bad and bitter.

Next we went back to where we started the tour and got to sample chocolate that was 60 and 70 percent cocoa! That was a lot better than the nibs.

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After the chocolate tasting we went to the Belmont Estate restaurant for lunch. The food was great! After lunch we followed our guide and he showed us a talking parrot that sang happy birthday and asked for crackers.

Then we went to the dairy farm and fed goats leaves. We also discovered that goats have horizontal pupils.

Ryan and I got to feed monkeys bananas after we fed the goats. The monkeys weren’t hungry and only took one banana.

The monkeys made weird noises at Patton and they were not very fond of him Next we checked out a couple gift shops. We had a very great time at the Belmont Estate, I hope we can come back soon.


Family Concord Waterfalls


Bon Voyage! September 2014

Bon Voyage! September 2014

As summer turns to fall, we are rapidly approaching the one year anniversary of our departure from the Port Tarpon Marina (September 27, 2014). We have travelled 2604 nautical miles, visited 15 countries and dozens of islands. We have all learned much about ourselves, our family and life aboard a boat. At the one year point, as we have done periodically throughout our journey, we have had a family conversation about how goes it. Is everyone still having fun, are we all still learning and has anyone lost the appetite to continue our family adventure? Happily, our trip continues to exceed our most optimistic expectations. The boys are flourishing in our maritime environment. Patton has become a boat dog extraordinaire and Theresa and I continue to be amazed by how our family has adapted to life at sea.

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Caribbean mapLooking at the calendar as well as the map, we are at a logical point in our journey to make additional decisions about where we are headed next. When we set out, we had given some thought to heading southwest after Grenada to visit the ABC islands, Columbia and Panama, perhaps even transiting the Panama Canal. Although the Panama Canal transit  still holds an allure for us, we have made the decision that we will instead head back north via the Caribbean chain to return to Florida in time for the boys to be reintegrated into traditional bricks and mortar schools at the beginning of the next school year.

When our trip was in the initial planning phase, I would not have imagined that after one year of cruising the Caribbean any of us would have felt like we did not have sufficient time to see everything we wanted along the way to our summer home of Grenada. How wrong I was and as a result, we will take this additional cruising season to retrace our steps and spend some additional time exploring some islands we did not stop at on our way south as well as revisiting some of the spots that we particularly enjoyed.

Our stop in Grenada has also been an opportunity to evaluate the performance of our boat and equipment and make modifications and adjustments to optimize the suitability of the Pilot’s Discretion for her role as a full time home and cruising platform. In general, I would say that our Sea Ray 480 Motoryacht has performed better in it’s role as a full time home than I had initially thought it would. The electronics, refrigeration and watermaker have all performed reliably. The Cummins QSM11 engines have so far been bulletproof and the boat itself has proven to be reliable and safe in a variety of offshore conditions.

Sealift tender lift system

Sealift tender lift system

There have been some issues that have been problematic. The Sealift tender lift system has not been a suitable solution for carrying our tender in sea conditions that exceed 4 or 5 feet (a problem in an area of the world that commonly experiences those conditions or worse for days and sometimes weeks at a time). We have developed a suitable workaround by towing the dinghy rather than leaving it in the Sealift cradle when we operate in moderate or greater seas. Additionally, we would prefer to have greater reserve electrical capacity in the form of a larger battery bank but given the free space constraints of our engine room we have not been able to bring that additional capacity aboard. As a result, we need to recharge our battery bank each day when at anchor, not a deal breaker but again an issue that has required us to make adjustments to our daily life aboard.

Fisher and Paykel Dishwasher

Fisher and Paykel Dishwasher

While we have been in Grenada we did splurge and install a Fisher-Paykel drawer style dishwasher. Not something that we had to have but as anyone with two growing boys understands, we go through lots of dishes and silverware in the course of a day. It is much more enjoyable to listen to the quiet hum of the dishwasher than it was to hang off the back of the swim platform rinsing the dishes in the saltwater.

All in all, we have thoroughly enjoyed our trip to date and look forward to sharing our return voyage with all of you via additional posts on our blog. Thanks for sharing our journey with us thus far.

Mount Cinnamon

Family Visitors in Grenada (a.k.a. “Spice Isle”) Part II – by Theresa

Following up our previous post, while Grenada is only 21 miles long, and 12 miles wide, there was still much to see and explore on the spice isle.


Diamond Chocolate FactoryWe continued our journey exploring Grenada with our knowledgeable local guide, Mr. Rawl Bell (“Rawl”), and our visiting guests, Randy’s sister Patti and her husband Chuck. Rawl informed us that no visit to Grenada would be complete without a trip to one of the island’s two (2) chocolate factories. It did not take much convincing to get us to agree. At the Diamond Chocolate Factory, we  learned how chocolate is made from bean to bar. Our guide escorted us to the Cocoa fields laden with Cocoa trees producing buds. Harvesting the cocoa pods is still done by hand. The cocoa pods are carefully broken open to release the cocoa beans, which are embedded in a moist, fibrous, white pulp. We had the opportunity to taste the cocoa beans right out of the pod!

In sum, the beans are then dried, fermented, mixed, and heated, with additional ingredients added depending on how the chocolate is to be used.

At the end of the guided tour, visitors are able to sample chocolates with varying degrees of cocoa (i.e. 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% &100%) and purchase all kinds of chocolate. It was not at all like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory, however, the sampling and purchases in the end were deliciously delightful.


Grenada is an island nation rich not only in spices, but richly steeped in history as well. In 1983, the U.S. launched Operation Urgent Fury, during which U.S.-led forces successfully defeated a threat posed to the United States and the Caribbean by the “Soviet-Cuban militarization” of Grenada. As we explored the island, we observed Russian planes, abandoned and destroyed, at the now closed Point Salines Airport.

We were pleased and proud to also see signs prominently displayed around the island thanking the U.S. for its part in liberating Grenada from the then untenable government.


River Antoine Estates Rum Distillery

River Antoine Estates Rum Distillery

Exploring the Antoine River Estate Rum Distillery provided yet additional insight to the never ending beauty of the “Spice Isle,” its history and resourcefulness. To start, the distillery uses locally grown cane and a hydro-powered water wheel that has been operational since 1785! It was delectable tasting the fresh cut cane and then watching it go up the hydro-powered conveyor belt so that the sweet sugary juices could be squeezed out of the cane in the first step of the rum making process. The discarded cane remnants are then piled up and carted away for mulch. (To the gear-heads who want to see the hydro-powered water wheel in action, click on the video tab at the top of this page to view video of the wheel in motion.) Click on any picture to enlarge or for slide show.

The sugar cane juice is then transported to large vats in the boiling house, where it is boiled and then fermented. The fermented remnants then continue their journey through large distillery pots where locally gathered wood fuels the fire that heats the pots converting the fermented sugar cane juices into steam. The steam is subsequently cooled and reconstituted into the rum liquid that is bottled and sold throughout the island.

The vapors at the distillery were truly intoxicating! Like the chocolate factory, we were fortunate to taste a sampling of the final product at the end of tour.


Our last spot of exploration with Rawl  took us through the rainforest around the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, to the focal point of the reserve, Grand Etang Lake. Grand Etang Lake fills the crater of one of the island’s extinct volcanoes and is located 1,800 feet (550 m) above sea level. The rainforest was fraught with tropical flowers that can only flourish in a rainforest.

Rawl Bell provided us with a fascinating tour of the island, one which none of us will soon forget.

Alas, the time came for Patti and Chuck to return to the states. We shared our farewell dinner at the elegant Mount Cinnamon Resort, on the south end of Grand Anse Beach. We were all sad to see Patti and Chuck leave, however, on our journey, there are no “good-byes,” only “until we meet again!” So, until we meet again …

Randy, Patton, Theresa, Patti, Chuck, Ronan and Ryan, Mount Cinnamon Resort

Randy, Patton, Theresa, Patti, Chuck, Ronan and Ryan, Mount Cinnamon Resort