Life on the hook

Weekly Updates

Life on the hook

This week’s blog, and the ones to follow in the coming weeks, are likely to be shorter than previous ones. The adventure has slowed as Tarka and I wait out hurricane season and do work on the boat in preparation for the upcoming trip to Panama and from there, the crossing of the South Pacific. Though there will still be much to share, the day-to-day activities are becoming more of a social nature, and when I’m being responsible, more of a boat-maintenance nature.

Exciting boat chores are like land chores, but on water.​

Life on the hook here in Grenada has treated me well. My neighbors are as wonderfully pleasant as they are adventurous. Tanagra is parked a short dinghy ride away, and their friend, Keith, on the sailing vessel Mucho Gusto, has twice my energy, despite being twice my age. If nothing else, he could certainly drink me under the table. There’s also a large sailing population here on the island hiding from hurricanes, and an even larger student population provided by the med and vet schools at St. George’s University. Then there are the locals, which are some of the friendliest of any of the islands I have visited in the Caribbean.

Here’s a picture of Mt. Carmel Falls — it doesn’t fit into the context of the surrounding text, but who doesn’t like a waterfall?!

Mike, Meagan, and I celebrated our arrival on the island by joining a combination of all the above-mentioned people and running the local “hash”. Not that kind of hash. The hash is held each week and features a 5-mile run through the Grenada wilderness. Though my hiking boots were certainly not ideal, I decided to do the run. For three people living on boats, running up and down steep muddy hills in the sultry heat of the tropical sun was quite a reality check. My body begged for a quick death and release from the torture I put it through. Ultimately, we all made it in more or less one piece to the finish. There, we were justly rewarded with cold beer, and showered in the same as a formal recognition of the loss of our hash virginity.

Celebrating the loss of our hash virginity in a shower of beer

I abused my body in other ways as the week progressed, but mostly with in an utterly satisfying combination of alcohol and freshly grilled pizza (aboard Tanagra). There was also an incident of over-sampling, which occurred at the Grenada Chocolate Factory (as well as the rum distillery) but I can hardly be blamed for these human faults.

Sugar cane pulp being loaded off the water wheel-powered press at the rum distillery

The culmination of the week’s indulgence was a dinghy pub-crawl organized by Meagan. Imagine a normal pub-crawl, except your transportation is an inflatable boat, and you only target bars near the water. About a dozen or so of us boaters, and a few of our land-loving friends, cruised around in our dinghies going from cold beer to rum punch. For better or worse, there are no laws against drinking and dinghy-ing. However, I like to think we remained relatively sober throughout the festivities.

I chose the right dinghy…

This week also offered an opportunity to reflect on my past experiences and my future plans for Tarka and I. I said last week that I would like to give our journey a greater purpose by helping to raise awareness, and perhaps even money, to help conserve our planet’s marine ecosystems. My feelings in that regard have not changed. In fact, here in Grenada, there are efforts underway to protect the reefs by eradicating the beautiful, but devastating and invasive lionfish. Indeed, the lionfish could be reducing reef diversity by up to 80%, and is the most significant threat to Caribbean reefs after climate change. Native to the Indo-Pacific, they were likely introduced by aquarium hobbyist. The local dive shops here lead dives called “lion hunts” where people are encouraged to spear any lionfish they encounter – and they make for great tacos later! However, it is an uphill battle, and it is unlikely that the species will ever be eradicated.

Some of the coral reefs near Tarka — no lionfish in sight!

For me, these local initiatives have further inspired me to help in any way I can. I have been grateful for the beauty of the reefs that surround Tarka, and I can’t imagine a world without them. Though I have not drawn out detailed plans, I would like to eventually set milestones for Tarka’s future passages and collect pledges on either a per-mile, or per-passage basis. Don’t worry, miles traveled aboard Coast Guard helicopters will not count. I do not expect to change the world, or for that matter, even have a significant impact, but I do hope to bring people together for a good cause.

I love seeing healthy coral, and I hope that future generations will get to, too.

In order to raise money though, Tarka and I must do things beyond the ordinary. To do that, we both must both be prepared and to that end, Tarka is being taken out of the water this week for regular maintenance and some new coats of paint. I am being taken out of the country next week for some mental and physical rejuvenation as well as to see friends and family. In the fall, I hope we will both be ready for the bigger trips that lie ahead.

Folding sails on the dock in preparation for Tarka’s haul-out.