Saturday, July 25, 2020

Our fishing adventures...

Everybody will ask: “Did you catch anything?”
Living off the sea is rewarding, but finding food isn’t always easy.

Since we were unlucky with the weather during both our crossings and for some of our inter-island passages, we didn’t really fish. 

However, after being stuck on lockdown for 18 weeks, we did fish!!!

It all started about 6 weeks after the lockdown began. Since a lot of the local fishermen who were used to selling their catch in Grenada but now couldn’t travel there, they resorted to selling the fish locally. We were thrilled because that meant amazing massive fresh yellow fin tuna available for a ridiculous price. $6.00EC per pounds or $3.00 CAD… Fresh tuna that we ate in sashimi, tartare, raw, cooked, BBQ'd cured, name it… It was DELICIOUS. 



We met “Joseph” (not his real name, but the name we gave him:-) on the side of the road selling his MASSIVE yellow fin tuna out of a cooler. It was beautiful! We bought three pounds worth and we ate it all within 3 days. We were with J&K so they bought a lot as well and Julian thought Dan how to cure the tuna in sugar, salt, brandy and our Canadian added touch of maple syrup (of course). That cured tuna was like candy, it was so good… I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat store-bought tuna anymore… And I don’t mean to be a snob, really! Fresh fish is so tasty and it melts in your mouth.

Anyway, after a couple of hours on the side of the road, the tuna was all sold and Joseph was gone.

Every day we were longing to see Joseph and we awaited his return from the fishing trip with eagerness.

We bought fresh tuna 3-4 times while we were there. After that, Grenada loosened its restrictions for fishermen and they were once again allowed to sell their fish in Grenada. From that day on, there were no more fresh tuna for us on the island… :(

After that, the boys thought: “Hey, what the heck, we can go and fish for ourselves.” And they did.

Aboard Silver Chief, they ventured and sailed around the island of Carriacou in the hopes of catching a nice big tuna. Unfortunately, what they caught was much smaller than a tuna but we ate it nonetheless and it was good.




But the adventure doesn’t stop there. A couple of weeks later, we all went for a nice sail to La Roche (a little bay North of Tyrell Bay) aboard Silver Chief, to finally be successful and catch a “tuny!” A small yellow fin tuna…  

The spirits were high aboard Silver Chief when the line pulled and Krystal, helped by the boys, brought that big boy on board… While someone had to be at the helm… ME!!! Ah, ah!
Dan fileted the fish and we ate it for lunch. It was delicious!!!

We had a couple of close calls after that to realize that it was just that awful sargassum algae caught on the lure… Berk!




 


Our beautiful island!!!

Don’t get me wrong … we are DELIGHTED to be home in Canada. But we do miss our paradise island of Carriacou. Having spent 4 months there, we feel, like we are now as much a part of her as she is a part of us and we cherish our time spent there. We made friends, discovered beautiful treasures, ate AMAZING freshly fished tuna, tasted new fruits and fell in love with it all. We will miss her and we are already looking forward to our return. Whenever that will be, only God knows… But we are eager to sail the island once more and delight ourselves in her amazing beauty.

We are happy not to be there during hurricane season even though it is far South as Gonzalo reminded us this week, nobody is fully protected from the wrath of Mother Nature during hurricane season. We are so happy that Gonzalo turned out to be just a bad squall for Carriacou, it could have been much worse…

But for all the blessings and amazing times we had over the past four months, trapped on paradise island my beautiful Australian friend and drone pilot Krystal shared with me some amazing footage of our island and I wanted to share it with you as well.

I certainly hope you enjoy it.







 






May Bliss!

Since you all know that we are back in Canada, I can actually catch you up on what happened between my last post (on Mother's Day) and our departure from our little paradise island.

In Carriacou, the government decided to keep us shopping on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, which was quite okay for us and then it became every day of the week as long as we were respecting the 19h curfew. 

Since there had been no cases in Carriacou (still no cases to this day), the islanders were benefiting from a little more freedom than our neighbours in beautiful Grenada.
Masks were only mandatory indoor and restaurent were open til 17h.
NO gatherings were allowed, but the kayaks (name for the habitants of Carriacou) never really followed that rule except when we were in FULL lockdown with drones patroling the skies to make sure that everybody stayed at home...

People were "liming" and enjoying the nice weather and a cold one by the beach. 

When we arrived in Carriacou a day before the lockdown began, we saw a boat about our size anchor near us in the bay. We saw them briefly since they left before sailing between islands became prohibited. 
We thought they had gone to Grenada. A couple weeks later, we see them re-anchor beside us in the bay and after a quick glance, realized that they were about our age. We got curious and after not seeing anybody in 5 weeks, we were desperate to talk to other human being!!!

When things started relaxing a bit, Julian came over with his paddleboard for a quick visit and this is how we met our Australian friends. Krystal and Julian became our companions for every adventure on the island in time of COVID. Being skilled foil rider, surfer, free-diver, etc... (I mean, they are Australians, what do you expect?) Julian recruited Dan for some scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking adventures and more. 
I had a lot of work to do so I stayed at the boat, but I was so happy to see Dan having fun and exploring the island once we were allowed more freedom.

They had left for another island not too far from Carriacou but part of the same archipelago and stayed there until the worst of the crisis was over. Running our of fresh food they came back and this is how our friendship story began.

The boys captured amazing under water footage and really beautiful views of our little bay from the top of the hills. 



They were chased by a pitbull, discovered 3 men slaughtering a goat in the bushes and ventured on the windward side of the island where the surf was powerful and where unfortunately, the plastic littered the beaches...

Here are some pics of some of their fun-filled days.










Thursday, July 23, 2020

We are finally home in Canada!

Sorry guys for the long absence. It’s been a trialing couple of weeks.

We have been busy, waiting for the Grenada airport to reopen so we could go home. We have now been “stuck in paradise” for the past 18 weeks.

 

Don’t get me wrong, we have made the best of it, but we were eager to go home and it had become quite distressing to be stuck here not knowing when we could fly home or when the airport would reopen… We all lived in a state of uncertainty, but we were now getting to the point where we wanted to be home and it was getting increasingly frustrating to be punished because the Americans don’t have their covid-19 cases numbers under control. Their out-of-control situation is ruining it for the rest of the world … that is a fact.

 

I haven’t had the heart to write much lately.

We have been trying to stay positive and hope that we could either get a repatriation flight out of here, hire a private charter to get us back to Canada or hire a small plane to go to Barbados or Martinique and try and fly out of there with Air Canada, crossing our fingers that flight wouldn’t get cancelled and we could go home…





Here is our returning home story (in a nutshell)…


As you all know, when the covid-19 crisis hit the world and the islands here in the Caribbean, we were lucky enough to sail down to Carriacou and stay on lockdown there for several weeks. We were again extremely lucky since there were no cases and there is still no cases in Carriacou. We felt safe there and enjoyed much freedom after the worst of the crisis was over…


However, with hurricane season starting in June and our jobs awaiting us since April, we were getting impatient to find a way home. On June 16th, the government of Grenada announced that they would be reopening the airport for commercial flights on July 1st. We were over the moon and didn’t wait one second to purchase plane tickets for the first flight out on July 6th. We called clients, employers, family and friends with the good news. What a relief to know we would only be prisoners for 2 more weeks!!! Sad to leave our beautiful and safe island we weren’t fooling ourselves that with the out of control amount of covid cases in the USA, it wouldn’t take long before the countries would see a spike in their numbers due to careless tourists and they would clamp down again on the borders. 

We booked haul out for the boat and started packing our bags. We enjoyed some precious time with our Australian friends (I will properly introduce them on a later post:-) and got ready to leave.


On June 28th, after a beautiful sail and a nice meal at Sandy Island, we all tuned into the government broadcast at 7 pm. Dada-dom... Prime Minister announcing that due to the rising numbers of covid in the USA and since they are their main source of income/tourism, they decided to keep the borders shut and reassess the situation later in July or even August…


We sat there, speechless at the magnitude of this implication… We were stuck here for maybe another month, maybe more! I cried… As much as we enjoyed travelling, as much as we loved sailing and cruising and swimming and doing all those wonderful things, the plan was always for us to go back to work in April and the bank account confirmed that as well… LOL.

We rallied, we always do and we decided to consider other options. 


That news did spread like wildfire and all the other Canadians that were on all the Air Canada flights our of Grenada in July were now all coming together to find a way out of there ASAP.

We emailed our consulate requesting a repatriation flight, we go quotes for a private charted plane from Sunwing (Tickets between $2400-$3000 per person!!!), we looked at small private plane flying to the nearest island that had reopened and were flying Canadians back home. We looked at every avenue and didn’t leave any stone unturned…

Barbados was reopening its borders on July 12, Martinique and Guadeloupe were offering flights with Air Canada starting July 11th so we had a couple of options. We first hoped for a repatriation flights with some bitter and ill-wishing Canadians already home insulting us and badgering us saying that we shouldn’t bother the Canadian government as he already organized repatriation flights back in March. Well, needless to say, not all Canadians spread out over thousands of kilometres and several islands had the possibility to catch those flights.

We were in quarantine on a small island unable to disembark our vessel for 5 weeks starting on March 19, no ferries were running to get us to Grenada to catch the plane and none of the marinas were open to haul boats out of the water. So, smart arse out there, tell me how we were supposed to get on those repatriation flights then??? Exactly… We made the best of our situation and hoped for the best as we ended up on lockdown for 18 weeks…


ANYWAYS… 

After analyzing our options, Dan and I booked our tickets with Air Canada out of Martinique on July 12th. The Canadian government website was assuring us that the flights were a GO.

We would book a private charter out of Carriacou to Martinique and hop on that flight.

That was OPTION #1


OPTION #2

If the Martinique flight was a no-go, we would hop on a ferry to Guadeloupe and fly from there to Montreal on the 18th.


OPTION #3

If both flights out of Martinique and Guadeloupe were a no-go, we were gonna fly to Paris and then to Montreal since Air Canada had told us that the daily flight between Paris and Montreal had been flying every day since July 1st.


Those were our options, now we simply needed people to get on that private charter plane to limit the cost of that 6 seaters to Martinique.


We now had a plan and it was good to be positive and work towards something tangible and somewhat realistic. After many discussions with our Australian friends, they also realized that cruising the islands for the foreseeable future would be a terrible idea so they decided to fly home as well. We were now four getting on that plane to Martinique. We recruited another Canadian that booked, confirmed, to finally pull-out at the last minute, cancel without even paying the minimal fees that we couldn’t reimburse… He got cold feet, got scared of bunking with a bunch of “Young kids” he said and decided to stay put and wait for the reopening and fly home then. Very uncanadian-like and we won’t name him… Karma is a b! tch my friend. 

So, the four of us ended up having to split the cost of the plane in four instead of five … not cool!!!

But we all had tickets booked so we needed to go.


We booked our haul out and lifted our girl out of the water, got her all packed and ready for storage and with our friends doing the same thing, we were in a rush to get everything ready for our flight out of there on July 12th.


The frenzy of getting everything organize, on July 6th, after spending the day hauling the boat out and starting to stow and store our things, we were sitting around a cold one when Air Canada notification email announced us that our Martinique to Montreal flight had been cancelled…

We were left speechless once again, but we activated option #2. Fly to Martinique, ferry to Guadeloupe and flight to Montreal on the 18th.

Thankfully, our friends’ flight to Paris-Qatar-Perth was booked on the 16th so we rented an Airbnb together in Martinique, rented a car and decided to make the best of our time in Martinique.

You ask: “How come you were allowed to travel freely in Martinique/Guadeloupe?”

Because we were from an island with no cases and because Martinique and Guadeloupe are both French Territories and are subject to France regulations. So, once in, we could travel to all the French islands and to France if we wished. 


As we booked our Guadeloupe flight to Montreal on July 18th, the Air Canada lady tells me that it is unlikely that our flight would go, but that we could always travel via Paris so we had no expectations regarding Option #2, but we decided to try it anyway and if all else fails, fly to Paris!!!


On July 7th, guess what? Grenada government announces that they will reopen to commercial flights on August 1st… NO freakin way! First flight out booked August 3rd.


At that point, we are so untrusting of the Grenada government that both Dan and I are convinced that this flight won’t happen. (By the way, we found out on arrival in Montreal that the august 3rd flight got cancelled!!!) Furthermore, when we read the requirements, no way anybody would “vacation” in Grenada in quarantine for fun unless you were a returning citizens…

So, we stood by our decision and embarked on our flight on July 12th at 9:30 am with our amazing pilot, Fran├žoise from Airawak… (Thanks Fran├žoise!) She brought the bird of freedom to us and took us under her wings all the way to Martinique, bless France and Europe!!

 Got our rental car and enjoyed Martinique until July 17th when we hopped on a ferry to Guadeloupe and enjoyed the 5 hours ride retracing our sailing journey that took us several weeks to do in just a few hours! 

Thank God, both Martinique and Guadeloupe had no cases either so we used all necessary precautions but we were also able to enjoy our time there as well.


In Guadeloupe, we booked a small little cabin for the night and arrived at the airport the next day all nervous that the flight might still be cancelled.

We have been travelling all of our adult lives and we never once worried about flights being cancelled, delayed, yes, cancelled … never. 

In time of covid … get used to it, it’s gonna be part of life for a while I predict!

Anyhow… After being left outside until the ladies opened up the registration office, we got our luggage tagged and passed through security with our temperature being taken and got the whole routine done. 

Once in the terminal, we realized it was completely empty… I got scared again that the flight would get cancelled. Really, who was on this flight? 

And then, like a symbol of freedom, the Air Canada plane arrived at the terminal door and parked there. We were so relieved, I cried again. We were one step closer from being home.


We embarked on our plane with masks, glove, disinfectant, wipes and all, greeted by masked hostesses and an empty plane… Fantastic! There were maybe 50 people spread out in that big plane. 


We flew so fast that we shaved off 25 minutes off our planned trip! Yeah! Landed on Canadian soil and kissed the floor of my Home Sweet Home!!! I kept pinching myself and hitting Dan telling him: “We are here, we are here!” And he kept laughing at me!!!


Unless you have been stranded somewhere, you have no idea how it feels to finally be home after so long!


Passed through customs like a breeze and headed for our quarantine for the next 14 days.




Day 6 of quarantine: So far so good!

 


 


Monday, May 11, 2020

Happy Mother's Day!

It is a blessed day, a day to remember, a day to celebrate, a day to love, a day to be grateful, a day to never forget our beautiful mothers!

I have been racking my brain to figure out something original to celebrate Mother’s Day, from a distance, unable to get the flowers or the gifts to my own mom and to the other mothers that are precious to us and that play an important role in our lives. We are now adults, but we still appreciate and recognize the amazing work, the love and the sacrifice mothers do on a daily basis for the people they love. One day isn’t enough, but it’s a start!

So, this beautiful island gave me this crazy idea and I enrolled Dan to help me out with it!

It was fun and it felt good to do something to acknowledge our mothers all around the world!
Here what we came up with!







I was able to FaceTime with my mom and chat for a bit and we were able to send our "little" gift to our favorite mothers out there! May God bless you! We love you!

We have sailed from Tyrell Bay to Sandy island for a nice change of scenery. Just around the corner, we are still admiring the beautiful island of Carriacou.
The wind is steady and the white caps are a familiar sight. Surrounded by crystal clear turquoise water, we are admiring our new view of the white beach, palm trees swaying in the wind and the turtles and white crabs that inhabit this lovely paradise! We are allowed to walk on this deserted island and it is so nice to be able to get off the boat and take long walks in the sand. I am enjoying every moment of it. I had missed that! 

On the other side of the island, we can see the Caribbean Sea and to the North, we have Union Island. There are very few boats here and it is much quieter. I am enjoying this time of solitude and calm. 

I don’t get tired of waking up to blue skies, bright sun, warmth and a breeze. It is always a delight to sip my coffee and look at the turtles peeking their heads above the water or seeing the fish jump out of the water to escape predators or chasing the annoying bird that sits at the top of the bow and poops on my navigation lights!!!
I do get tired of that particular bird… We have found ways of keeping him at bay, but every day, he comes back thinking that his luck has turned… Nope! We still don’t want him as a guest!
It is a simple life and a definite slowdown from the rat race we are used to. We are both getting plenty of rest and eating well. Eating fruits, we had never heard of before and certainly never tasted before… It is pleasant to discover the simplicity of island living. It would be quite difficult to go back to Canadian Winters…
As recently as last week, our family was sending pictures of snow… Come on! Snow in May! That is cruel! 

We certainly do not have the luxury of complaining and we are not:-)
What a blessing to be here and regardless of the restrictions, regardless of our inability to go home to work, we are lucky to be here and we do not take it for granted!
We are the lucky ones!








Daily life under lockdown... in paradise!

I know it has been almost a month since my last post and I apologize to all my faithful readers!!!

For two people stuck on a boat during the lockdown due to Covid-19, I should be writing every day since I have the time, but no!

I have been busy with translation contracts and we have also been in a routine of sorts… With a schedule that is very flexible mind you, but that still offers us a bit of normalcy.

We have now been in Carriacou for almost 2 months under either quarantine, strict lockdown and curfews… We cannot complain too much since the government of Grenada has been extremely cautious and we have now only 6 active cases and no death. Last night the PM announced a slow reopening of businesses and everybody rejoices over this.

Meanwhile, we keep ourselves busy with the mundane things of life like doing the laundry and cleaning up the boat. Our days involve a lot of snorkelling and swimming and our routine visits to town for food and supplies.



As we get to know our sailors neighbours, we discover that a lot of Americans are sailing back to the USA (Not my first choice right now, but hey!) and a lot of Europeans are sailing back across the pond to Europe! People are seeing hurricane season coming around the corner and they are worried to be caught too far north. I understand them, I would be worried too! We are happy to be here and are hoping the governments are reopening wisely and safely, but we are also hoping to move on with our plans as well. Living this uncertainty isn’t easy for anybody and we consider ourselves lucky to be here, to be safe and healthy, but also to have family and friends to share life and concerns with over the amazing technology that the Internet is. 

We are thinking of all our fellow Canadians and are praying for a slowdown of this deadly virus. I think we all need to catch a break at this point!!!


Our fishing adventures...

Everybody will ask: “Did you catch anything?” Living off the sea is rewarding, but finding food isn’t always easy. Since we were unlucky wit...