Category Archives: Windward Islands

Ryan, Brandon Crawford and Ronan (Jan. 2018)

BRANDON CRAWFORD BASEBALL CAMP, SCOTTSDALE, AZ – by Ronan

BCraw35 Baseball Camp

BCraw35 Baseball Camp

For Christmas, one of the presents our mom and dad got Ryan and me was two days at “Brandon Crawford Baseball Camp!” We could not believe it! Brandon Crawford is a major league baseball player who plays short stop for the San Francisco Giants. The camp started on January 27th, so Ryan and I had a month to practice our game. Before we knew it, we were flying from St. Lucia, (the West Indies) in the Caribbean, to Phoenix, Arizona, for the baseball camp. The camp was held in Scottsdale, Arizona because that is where the Giants do their spring training. We had an overnight layover in Miami, so it took us two (2) days to get to Arizona from the Caribbean.Ryan & Ronan outside Scottsdale Stadium (Jan. 2018)Ryan & Ronan outside Scottsdale Stadium (Jan. 2018)

DAY 1

On the first day of baseball camp, we woke up early, had breakfast, and drove to Scottsdale. When we got to Scottsdale stadium, we signed in and went to the field, while the parents and family went to the observation deck (Mom, Dad, and Aunt Patti).

Pre-camp gathering

Pre-camp gathering

When we gathered on the field at the start of the day, we were very excited to see San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, as well as San Francisco Giants Coach Chad Chopp! Coach Chopp is the Giants left-handed batting practice pitcher and a video replay analyst. There were also many other coaches and assistants.San Fracisco Giants' shortstop Brandon Crawford and Coach Chad Chopp (Jan. 2018)San Francisco Giants’ shortstop Brandon Crawford and Coach Chad Chopp  (Jan. 2018)

The first thing we did was play two ball. Two ball is a game where you throw two baseballs to someone from one hand, and if they do not catch both of them, they get a point. You have to try to get as little points as possible. Next, we did warm ups. First, we ran from one side of the field to the other, and then they organized us in lines to throw and catch to one another.

Line throw catch warm up

Line throw catch warm up

Then, one by one all the kids ran forward doing lunge stretches with their legs. Next, all the kids in the camp made one enormous circle. The coaches had us hold a different position with our arms for ten seconds at a time. Warm up circleWarm up circle

The coaches then organized us into small groups by age. There were many different stations that practiced different exercises with different coaches. It was amazingly well run! They had a set time of when to rotate to a different station. There was an outfield station, a Wiffle Ball station, a base running station, an off a tee batting station, an underhand pitching batting station, an overhand pitching batting station, a pitching station, an in-fielding station, and a bunting station.

Out Fielding station

Out Fielding station

In the out-fielding station, they taught us how to catch balls properly. We also learned about “drop steps.” A drop step is when you take a step back to your right or your left depending on where the ball is coming from. This allows you to easily run backwards or forward for the ball.

Ronan at bat at the Wiffle ball station

Ronan at bat at the Wiffle ball station

At the Wiffle Ball station, we practiced hitting Wiffle Balls with a small bat, and then hitting them with the bat we brought.Ronan getting batting tips from Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)Ronan getting batting tips from Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

In the batting cages, everyone hit baseballs off of tees for practice. After batting off of tees, we hit balls that were thrown underhand by a coach. Next, we hit balls that were thrown overhand by a coach.

At the base running station, the coaches taught that you should tag the inside corner of first base  when you are going to keep running for second and same with all the other bases.

While at the pitching station, the coaches taught us how to deliver the ball properly. At the bunting station, we were taught how to hold the bat while attempting to bunt. While at the in-fielding station, we practiced fielding ground balls at short stop and throwing them to the first baseman.

Infield station - Ryan and Brandon Crawford at short stop & Ronan at 3rd base

Infield station – Ryan and Brandon Crawford at short stop & Ronan at 3rd base

At the end of the first day of camp, they handed out prizes to the kids who did especially well.

End of Day 1 gathering

End of Day 1 gathering

The coaches also talked about the importance of appreciation of team, family and teachers. Our “homework” assignment was to do a “random act of kindness.”

Aunt Patti, Ronan, Randy & Ryan (Jan. 2018)

Aunt Patti, Ronan, Randy & Ryan (Jan. 2018)

After camp, when we got back to the hotel, Ryan, Mom, and I decided to hike Mt. Tempe which was right outside our hotel.

Mount Tempe, AZ (elevation 1495')

Mount Tempe, AZ (elevation 1495′)

Along the trail, we saw lots of cactuses and other hikers. When we got to the top, we stopped and enjoyed the magnificent view.

Going up and down Mt. Tempe only took about an hour. Next, we went to the hot tub on the roof of the hotel. We had an amazing day!

DAY 2

On the second day of camp, we woke up bright and early to get ready. Just like the day before, we drove to Scottsdale stadium in Scottsdale with our mom, dad and Aunt Patti. We started the day off with more of the game, two ball. Then we did warm ups and went to our assigned stations. However, on the second day they did the stations a little differently than before. The coaches handed out prizes, such as bubble gum and sunflower seeds, to kids that did well. While in the batting cages, I was very excited when I got a tip from Brandon Crawford himself! He told both Ryan and me that we should swivel our back leg while batting for more power. If I had to choose, I think I learned the most at the pitching station on the second day. One of the coaches showed me that I should make a “W” shape with my arms while delivering the pitch. This helped improve my pitching accuracy tremendously! At the end of the day, the coaches handed out prizes again.

End of Day 2 pep talk and Q&A session

End of Day 2 pep talk and Q&A session

I was very happy when I got picked for a prize by the pitching coach. My prize was a Gaylord Perry mini-statue. Gaylord Perry was one of the pitchers on the Giants who has been elected to the baseball Hall of Fame. After I got my prize, Brandon Crawford walked over to Ryan and I and asked us our names.

End of Day 2 pep talk, Q&A and prizes

End of Day 2 pep talk, Q&A and prizes

Then he chose my brother Ryan to get a prize too! Ryan got a Bruce Bochy gnome. Bruce Bochy is the Giants manager. The gnome looks hilarious! After giving out prizes, everyone formed a line to get an item of their choice signed by Brandon Crawford, along with a picture with him. Ryan and I had baseballs signed, and took pictures with him!

Ronan shaking hands with Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

Ronan shaking hands with Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

Ronan with his signed ball from Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

Ronan with his signed ball from Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)Ryan with his baseball signed by Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

Ryan with his baseball signed by Brandon Crawford (Jan. 2018)

Ryan, Brandon Crawford and Ronan (Jan. 2018)

Ryan, Brandon Crawford and Ronan (Jan. 2018)

Following the autographs and pictures, we returned to the hotel. The whole camp was an experience of a lifetime! My brother and I now have signed balls from three (3) SF Giant players, Willie Mays, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford! (See Willie Mays, one of a kind (2015/11/17) and A Giant Among Giants, Christmas Arrives Early in Grenada (2015/12/20).

To top it off, all of the proceeds from the camp were donated to the Buster and Kristen Posey Fund. Buster Posey is a teammate of Brandon Crawford’s and is the catcher for the San Francisco Giants. The Buster and Kristen Posey Fund is a charity that provides grants to research hospitals and organizations that support children diagnosed with pediatric cancer. To check out, or donate to the Buster and Kristen Posey Fund, click here. For information on future Brandon Crawford Baseball camps, click here.

Ryan, Paulette, John, Randy, Theresa & Ronan in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

As the famous New York Yankee catcher, Yoggi Berra used to say, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it” – by Randy

As we have communicated to you before, the cruising community is different than that which our land based neighbors are accustomed to. We are, by definition, a group of transients with different itineraries, capabilities and goals. We have been cruising in the Caribbean for over 3 years now and we have crossed and recrossed paths with dozens of cruising families that we have enjoyed sharing our cruising dream with. Having passing acquaintances with other families is just part of the lifestyle. That said, we have developed some unique and close bonds with a select few. One of the special cruising families that we have shared a particularly close friendship with is John and Paulette Lee of M/V Seamantha, a Kadey Krogen 58′ trawler.

Paulette & John on the bridge of M/V Seamantha

Paulette & John on the bridge of M/V Seamantha

Tobago Cays (June 2016)

Petite St. Vincent  (June 2016)

Patton

Patton

We first met John and Paulette in the British Virgin Islands 3 years ago during our initial trip south through the Caribbean. When we arrived to spend our first hurricane season in Grenada, we ended up with a slip right next to Seamantha in the Port Louis Marina. John and Paulette spoiled our Cocker Spaniel, “Patton” with fresh bowls of his favorite vegetable, cauliflower, on the aft deck of Seamantha. They have watched our boys, Ryan and Ronan grow from little boys into capable young men. Throughout our trip, we have shared countless wonderful experiences with our cruising buddies. As the saying goes, friends are the family that you get to choose and John and Paulette have certainly become a big part of our family.

M/V Seamantha arriving in Admiralty Bay, Bequia

M/V Seamantha arriving in Admiralty Bay, Bequia

After watching the devastation and subsequent recovery of the Caribbean after one of the worst hurricane seasons on record, we have decided it is the appropriate time to turn the Pilots’ Discretion north and head back towards the United States. We are actually looking forward to retracing our route through the Caribbean and points north. It will be an opportunity to revisit some of our favorite spots. With our decision to turn north we have arrived at another one of those intersections in the life of a cruiser. Our friends on M/V Seamantha are departing St. Lucia this week to head south and so it is that we have arrived at Yoggi’s infamous fork in the road. Pilots’ Discretion and Seamantha will be taking divergent paths which in many ways is sad. We will not be saying goodbye, but rather, we will say “until we see you again.” So, as you depart Seamantha, we wish you fair winds and following seas.

Ryan, Paulette, John, Randy, Theresa & Ronan in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan, Paulette, John, Randy, Theresa & Ronan in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

MOVIE TRAILER – by Ronan(10) and Ryan (11)

Ronan (10) and Ryan (11) made a “movie trailer” for our Caribbean cruising adventures. We added it to our “VIDEOS” page at: https://pilotsdiscretion.com/videos/. We are also sharing it here, below. I think we found our new videographers! They had a lot of fun making it. We hope you enjoy watching it! Click on the below image to play.

We have also created a dedicated YouTube channel  where we have compiled the videos from our blog, and uploaded additional videos from our journey.  To view the videos click on the link below (or copy and paste into browser):

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC94z5hCIrRiEvY8MTJegTbA.

Course track

SUMMER IN GRENADA, SEASON 2 – by Theresa

Leaving the Tobago Cays astern, cruising just outside of the exclusionary zone for the underwater volcano, Kick ’em Jenny, we spotted Grenada, our summer home port for our second hurricane season, immediately on the horizon.  We cruised down the leeward side of the island, past the small fishing village of Gouyave, and into our summer home port in St. Georges harbor.

 

Pilots' Discretion cruising in to St. Georges, Grenada

Pilots’ Discretion cruising into St. Georges harbor, Grenada

After clearing immigration and customs, we hoisted  the courtesy flag of our host nation.

While we endured typical Grenada passing showers on the day we arrived, we had many sunny days ahead of us. With school out for the summer, the boys immediately set out looking for some summer fun and adventures. Since this is our second summer in Grenada (see A Day in the Life of Grenada, 2015/08/02), we were already familiar with the lay of the land. We did not miss a beat getting back into the swing of the weekly, often wet and muddy, but always scenic and fun hikes (a.k.a. “hashes”).

Ronan rope action, hiking in Grenada

Ronan rope action, hiking in Grenada

Ryan crossing the stream hiking in Grenada (no use even trying to keep those shoes dry!)

Ryan crossing the stream hiking in Grenada (no use even trying to keep those shoes dry!)

Ronan and Ryan hiking in Grenada ... just a little muddy

Ronan and Ryan hiking in Grenada … just a little muddy. The shredded paper marks the trail.

Ronan taking in the view on the hash in Grenada

Ronan taking in the view on the hash in Grenada

There are a lot of other ‘kid boats’ riding out the hurricane season in Grenada, so much so, the boat kids have their own morning net on the VHF radio to communicate and organize events. The ‘Kids Organized Society’ (KOS, pronounced K-os, or chaos) meets weekly at Secret Harbor for a variety of fun activities.

In the spirit of the 2016 Olympic games, the kids came together on Calabash Beach, Prickly Bay, for a mini-Olympics. There were relay races, three-legged races, swimming competitions and the ever popular tug-of war!

Calabash Beach Mini-Olympics

Ready, set, go!

Ronan and Ryan on the GYC dock

Ronan and Ryan on the GYC dock

The boys spent most of the summer at the Grenada Yacht Club sailing camp. Since this was their second summer attending the camp, they were afforded greater responsibility for rigging and de-rigging the boats. They also helped teach the new, younger sailors the points of sail and how to read the wind and water. (See last years’ post on Camp Grenada, 2015/08/07)

Grenada Yacht Club, St. Georges, Grenada

Grenada Yacht Club, St. Georges, Grenada

Sailing in St. Georges, Grenada

Sailing in St. Georges, Grenada

Ronan sailing

Ronan sailing

Ryan derigging the mosquito

Ryan derigging the mosquito

Working together to put the sails away

Working together to put the sails away

Another fun adventure we enjoyed this summer was a river tubing birthday party!

The summer has not been all fun and games. We have accomplished a great many ‘boat projects’ this summer, with more on the horizon. Next week we are having the boat hauled out of the water so that we can have her bottom painted along with some additional projects that are best achieved with the boat on the hard. We will ride out the boat haul at one of our favorite places in Grenada, Mount Cinnamon Resort. More to follow on that in our next post …

PD1 heading ashore, Baradol Island, Tobago Cays

TOBAGO CAYS – by Theresa

Tobago Cays

Tobago Cays

At long last, we arrived in the beautiful Tobago Cays in the Grenadines, West Indies! Just a short cruise (2 nautical miles) from Mayreau, the Tobago Cays Marine Park consists of five (5) uninhabited islands (Baradal, Petit Rameau, Petit Bateau, Petit Tabac and Jamesby) surrounded by a horseshoe reef. Our first night in the park we picked up a mooring ball directly in front of the turtle sanctuary just off Baradal.

Baradol Island, Tobago Cays

Baradal Island, Tobago Cays

Ronan giving the 'OK' on the mooring ball, Baradol Island, Tobago Cays

Ronan giving the ‘OK’ on the mooring ball, Baradal Island, Tobago Cays

After receiving the all clear on the mooring, we snorkeled ashore, through, and around, the turtle sanctuary where green and hawksbill turtles feed off the sea grass.

Green Turtle, Baradol Island, Tobago Cays

Green Turtle, Baradal Island, Tobago Cays

We saw hundreds of starfish, so many, that they appeared to form underwater constellations.

Cushion Starfish, just off Baradol Island, Tobago Cays

Cushion Starfish, just off Baradal Island, Tobago Cays

Cushion Starfish, just off Baradol Island, Tobago Cays

Cushion Starfish, just off Baradal Island, Tobago Cays

Needless to say, the snorkeling was amazing!

Southern Stingray & Trunkfish just off Baradol Island, Tobago Cays

Southern Stingray & Trunkfish just off Baradal Island, Tobago Cays

Palometa & Conch just off Baradol Island, Tobago Cays

Palometa & Conch just off Baradal Island, Tobago Cays

Once ashore, we explored the uninhabited island where tortoises, iguanas and birds roam freely.

Our second night in the Marine Park, we picked up a mooring ball in the cut between Petit Rameau and Petit Bateau. We had considered snorkeling ashore, however, we saw multiple sharks and rays swimming just off the boat so we instead opted to take the dinghy ashore. Petit Rameau was inhabited by mostly goats. Petit Bateau has a nice trail that runs around the island and provides nice views of the surrounding islands.

Hiking Petit Bateau, looking towards Baradol Island

Hiking Petit Bateau, looking towards Baradal & Jamesby

We have been to multiple marine parks while cruising the Caribbean and have enjoyed the pristine beauty of them all. The Tobago Cays Marine Park was no exception and we highly recommend stopping here for anyone cruising on or around these waters. We would have stayed in the park longer, however, there was some weather moving in and so we opted to leave and continue our journey south towards Grenada. Our next stop, Petit St. Vincent and Petite Martinique . . .

Willie Mays, one of a kind – by Randy

Today we learned that our good friend Willie Mays has been awarded our nations highest honor for a civilian – the Presidential Medal of Freedom. We could not be happier or more proud of this recognition for our dear friend Willie.  Willie has been both an inspiration and role model for our family through multiple generations. He has been a man that has always had time to spend helping young kids understand the importance of a good education, a solid work ethic and when all else fails, he has been there to get his own checkbook out to make certain that kids from all walks of life have an opportunity to succeed. Willie is undoubtably one of the greatest athletes to ever play the game of baseball, but to those of us that know him personally, he will always be so much more than that. Congratulations Willie, we are proud to call you our friend.

Port Louis, St. Georges, Grenada

St. Vincent, The Grenadines & Grenada – by Randy

For the past nine months, our family has been cruising south, through  the Caribbean including to and through the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spanish Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Bart, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts & Nevis, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Alas we have arrived in our summer home, Port Louis Marina, St. George’s Harbor in Grenada!

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

Charleston Bay, Canouan, Grenadines

Charleston Bay, Canouan, Grenadines

After departing the serene Piton anchorage in St. Lucia we set a course towards St. Vincent & The Grenadines. Upon arrival, we opted to pick up a mooring ball in Charleston Bay in Canouan, the Grenadines. The bay, formerly home to a Moorings base that has apparently been closed down, was virtually empty the day we arrived. With only one other cruising boat in the harbor we moored within 30 yards of the beach  just off the Tamarind Resort Hotel and enjoyed a pleasant evening ashore. During our brief period ashore, we found the locals to all be pleasant and helpful. We discovered a charming beachfront restaurant with tables set in the sand from which we enjoyed our dinner while watching the sunset over Charleston Bay (the name of the restaurant was the Coconut Bar and Grill and the owner’s name was Ezera. Ezera and his beach dog “beachboy” made sure that everyone including our Cocker Spaniel, Patton were well taken care of).  From St. Vincent southward to Grenada there are literally dozens of small to medium sized islands, each with it’s own distinct personality and allure. Unfortunately, we have arrived too late in the season and must press on to Grenada but to be sure, we will be exploring as many of them as we can when we make our return trip northward.

GRENADA

Cruising into Grenada

Cruising into Grenada

With the “hurricane season” upon us, our boat insurance requires us to position the boat south of 12o30”   north of the equator. As such, we departed Canouan and continued our journey south towards our summer home marina in Grenada. Since our course took us in close proximity to “Kick ’em Jenny,” an active under water volcano, prior to departing Canouan we obtained an Eastern Caribbean volcanic activity update at: http://www.uwiseismic.com/.  Kick ’em Jenny has a reputation of kicking up nasty seas and she did not disappoint on the day we cruised  by. Despite staying well clear of the 1.5 km safety exclusion zone, there was a noticeable shift in seas, which continued until we got into the lee of Grenada. The island of  Grenada has all along been our end of the Caribbean chain destination and so we had yet another surreal moment as we cruised into the sheltered lagoon at Port Louis Marina, Grenada in our own boat.

Port Louis, St. Georges, Grenada

Port Louis, St. Georges, Grenada

Once settled into the marina, we set out to explore new our new summer home base. Since we will be here for several months, we will have ample time to explore Grenada at a leisurely pace.

Already we have discovered a local hiking/running club which organizes weekly hikes in different locations around the island.

The boys have completed their homeschooling for the year and we are looking forward to exploring all that Grenada and the surrounding islands have to offer this summer.