Sunday, 31 August 2014

Meghan On Amélie-August 2014

Ah, welcome back aboard fellow shipmates! August in Grenada, I think we could all say was full of parties, events and great surprises!

In case you don’t know, most of the Caribbean islands (and some countries in South America too) have a big festival each year called Carnival. Some Carnivals aren’t that big so it is basically just a normal cool-looking parade going down the street but Grenada was nominated second best Carnival in the world (Brazil is first) so we were quite excited when we found out it was going to happen when we here! We wanted to make the best of it since it was probably going to be the only Carnival we see in the Caribbean so let’s just say, we (especially my dad and I) went a bit out of the ordinary! There were 4 parades spread out between 2 days.

The first parade was called: J’ouvert or Jab Jab and as I described it it was: “the march of the devils” because everybody really does everything they are not allowed to do any other day except for that day (not a pleasant picture in your mind is it?!)! It started at 4am and if you went parading with them (which I didn’t but my dad did), there was a guarantee you were going to be covered in either oil or paint and sometimes both! We came dingheying into town just to see what the parade looked like but we were dinghying in mostly oil not water! Rumour has it that some men just dumped out the rest of the oil they used to throw on people into the marina water! To make things worse, a couple of hours later, a few students who were covered in oil were standing on the yacht club dinghy dock and it collapsed so it was basically just oil everywhere you went! Eventually, they had it all cleaned up and the dinghy dock rebuilt.

My participation in the body paint!

My favourite costume
Later that day, after everybody rested and got cleaned up, there was the next parade called: the Fancy Mas. This one was definitely more organized and well… fancier! All the groups came in sections to show off their costumes, dance and if you were lucky, you’d be able to sneak in to ask for a picture with them (and they’d always say yes!)! The same parade happened the next day but there were judges so each group did their own routine too! The costumes came in every different colours and shapes: some were black skeletons, some were white fairies, some were silver birds, some were beige and pink cowgirls, one man was even a big green dragon but my favourite group was definitely the blue, red, yellow and orange birds in the: “In Flight” section! Here are some pictures of the beautiful costumes there were! 
The peacock routine

Yes that is a man... in a dress... with a tree on his head!
White fairies
March of the watermelons!

Silver birds

That is a lot of pink people!

There were also few kids in the parade too and I would have to say that they were definitely the most enthusiastic! Seeing those adorable, delighted kids is something I will never forget! They came in groups too such as: all 4 seasons (snowflakes for winter, flowers for spring, suns for summer and colourful leaves for fall), cows, little boys as soldiers and little girls as pink butterflies and green fairies!

5 little flowers!

An adorable little sunshine!

A snowflake and an autumn leaf
One little green fairy!

After a full day of partying, yes… we still had enough energy to party a bit more. The night parade was called: Light Mas. My mom, my brother and I only stayed until about 9:30 but still saw some pretty cool things! There were 3 trucks with about 20 speakers on each of them and had blasting SOCA music (kind of like rock music but has a specific rhythm and non-understandable lyrics!) with people walking behind them dressed in a specific costume that they bought when they signed up to do this. They each sponsored a famous Caribbean business: one was Lime (a cellphone and internet service), one was Carib (type of beer) and one was Digicel (also a cellphone and internet service). All you could see coming down the hill was thousands of lights all different colours! A man would also sometimes tell everyone in the parade to move to either the left or the right and where we were it looked like a lit up wave! As the people walked by, you could all their light up accessories like: a viking helmet with light up horns and a light up axe, a fake mohauk that lit up and top hats that lit up! Before we left, one of our friends who had signed up to walk behind one of the trucks gave me a plastic tube that lit up that said Digicel on it so I waved it around the whole dinghy ride back to the boat! Overall, it was an amazing Carnival and I know I will never forget it (if this is second best Carnival in the world, this makes me really want to see Brazil’s!)!

Apartment Hunting and Life Back on Land
Amélie in her "giant underpants"!
Every boat, every few years has to get their bottom repainted which means they have to get hauled out and put on “stilts” in a boatyard. Now, staying on your boat in the boatyard (even though I’ve never done it) is hot, stinky, sweaty and there are a thousand mosquitos so as most people do, we had to go find an apartment to stay in for the 2 weeks we were going to be out of the water so we took one morning to go apartment hunting! 

We first looked at a nice (ish) apartment with all the necessities (3 beds/2 bedrooms, a kitchen, etc.) but it didn’t have enough “running space” for our non-stop Matthew and there was no water to swim in nearby so as nice as the lady was who owned those apartments, we couldn’t take it. The next apartments we looked at were in a very nice and untouched place of Grenada called: La Sagesse. The apartments were beautiful with wooden staircases and original art on the walls but there was sadly one problem: there was no kitchen and we are unable to eat out every night  (because that would pass our budget). We were going to bring a microwave and a few other things but we decided to look at one more place to see if it would be just as good as La Sagesse but with a kitchen. These apartments were more like a resort but were meant for these kind of situations we are in. The place was called: Gem Holiday. They had no 2 bedrooms available but we still asked to see a 1 bedroom. It had 2 queen sized beds, a nice living area, a porch with an ocean view and voila.. a kitchen! La Sagesse was definitely a bigger living space and was more beautiful but since there was no kitchen and Gem Holiday had a beach and a pool, we decided to take Gem which is where I am writing this right now!

Life back on land has been nice and quite relaxing! There are a few luxuries about being on land now, after living on a boat for 5 months. My mom said that she thought the big fridge was the biggest luxury but I don’t really get why because we have quite a big fridge on board too. I know that Matthew’s #1 luxury (which I really appreciate too) is the big walk in and non-stop shower! Another of my biggest luxuries is flushing toilets (on the boat, we have to pump them)! It is always an instinct to wash my hands quickly because on the boat, we have to make the water ourselves using a water maker (it takes sea water and makes it into fresh water) and that takes a lot of power and time too but then I got into the apartment and I realized that the water is unlimited so now I take advantage of that, trust me! I am very happy with all of these luxuries but my #1 is definitely air conditioning!
This is a bit of an exaggeration but close enough to how I take advantage!

School starts back up on Monday so I’m going to soak up all the full days of free time for as long as I can but that is still about all I can say for now so this is Meghan On Amélie… out!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Keeping up with …..the Puppets…..

Oh Canada !  The Puppet Pilot.

As we have been “ land-lubbing”  (is that a word ??) for almost two weeks now; we thought it would be a good time to focus on our Puppet Show. In case you were not aware: Meghan and I have decided that one way to give back to the communities we will visit this year, would be to offer free puppet shows to schools and youth groups. Our play will focus on Canada as well as life on the boat. We though this would be a fun way to meet and interact with kids, and to get us more involved in the places we visit. 

Over the last two weeks, we have put together a final script, build props, practiced handling puppets and put together a “pilot” video which we are proud to share with you today.. if you are interested. 

Some back ground Information :

We have two scripts available; one which is much more detailed, going into explanations of Canada’s main industries and resources ( for each Province and Territory), and one shorter version, for younger kids, just to get them interested. The point of the show would just to give them an introduction to Canada and get the conversation going so that we can have fun questions & answers and activities with the kids afterwards.....

For all of our fellow Canadians out there., we appologize as we realise that we have touched about every cliche about Canada that we could have in this play, all except for toques, beer and igloos, but we thought it was a good introduction and we hope that you will forgive us... 

We would also would like to point out that MC has six years of experience presenting with puppets to school children but Meghan had almost none, and we are all very proud of how far she has come in the last two weeks ! Anyone who has ever handled these puppets will appreciate how well she is doing as it is not as easy as it may look….  She is a natural !  

And finally : We know that the play is by no means “perfect” yet and that we still have things to work throughIt is a work in progressbut we both think that it is a very good start and
we are proud to show you what we have done so far. 

So without further ado: 

Two Coconuts Productions are proud to present :  

“Oh! Canada”, the (short version) pilot !  Enjoy !

Coming up soon :

Captain Mark gives his impressions on the last five months !


4Ms move back onto the boat start thinking about new places to visit...

Friday, 22 August 2014

Week 21; Hauling out in Grenada


This week was the week that Amelie was getting hauled out of the water, to get her “Bottom Done”....which is sort of like getting her a pedicure for her Hull and Keel; You know: things are scrapped off.....things are painted on.....that sort of deal.

In order to haul out Amelie’s 13.4 meters (length), 2.1 meter (Depth), and Gross tonnage of 27 t, we chose to go to Grenada Marine Ship Yard on the South End of the Island. 

The first step was to back the boat  into a type of “pen”, which Cptn Mark did very well. He is getting better at the "reverse" thing...

Meg calls these: the "Large underpants"

Next,  a hoist is wheeled up on either side of her. Four wide straps are then positioned , two on either side of the keel. 

Once these are secured, she is slowly and carefully  lifted out of the water. Once she is lifted high enough to clear the ground....she is rolled to her designated spot in the yard, where braces are placed all around her hull. 

In order to have access to the boat, we have to use a ladder to get up and down the 13 feet from the ground to the cockpit. Rather than trying to maneouvre down a ladder with bags, we  used a rope to lower all of our luggage and food was lots of fun!

While Amelie is being cared for and pampered  in the ship yard, the family have moved into a lovely little one bedroom holiday apartment in Morne Rouge. (South West Side on Grenada).

After nearly 5 months of living and sleeping onboard, it takes some adjustment, but it has not been as difficult as I had thought it might is amazing how quickly we adapt back to life on “ Terra Firma”. 

 I think everyone would agree that the BEST part of living on land has to be :                     ....THE FRIDGE! .

.which, in our our eyes, almost has an aura of reverant light eminating from it as we all stand in awe of its magnificent presence and roomy interior. Enough room for a WATERMELON ?  and POPSICLES !!!!  This is going to be fun !  

The super fast internet has been fantastic too, as I prepare for school in these last few weeks of August..

Meghan has been keeping up with her social life, now that two other “Kid Boats” have arrived in our "hood".and they are filled with teenage girls !  There are now a total of 10 young ladies who hang out together in these last few days of summer.... I have a feeling that Meghan is going to miss all of this when we leave Grenada in the fall !! For now, she is lucky that she can get picked up by her friends by dinghy from the beach to go spend some time with them in the anchorage or at volleyball...

Matthew Is enjoying having the choice between pool OR beach everyday. He is also enjoying the shower in the apartment…and he likes turning on the TV, a lot like his dad !!!  We go for daily"hikes" walking to the big grocery store and coming back with popsicles and watermelons (oh, and other food too!)

There is still plenty for us to discover on Grenada, but with Mark being away everyday (at the boat yard, supervising), we prefer to wait for him before doing anything new and exciting. So this will be a short blog, as we enjoy life back on land for a while…..


Much love from the 4Ms

At First, Matthew was not too sure about this whole "Hauling Out" business,  but he thought the hoist was cool.

Beach access from our Appartment

Matthew enjoying the beach in Morne Rouge

Thursday, 14 August 2014

CARNIVAL ! Spice Mas 2014- Grenada

                                     Carnival !

Just like any other big event, there is a build up to Carnival that starts weeks (even months) before the actual event. Steel drum bands (Steel Pan) and other bands participate in competitions across the Country and on neighbouring Islands. 

We did not want to miss a thing, but trying to get an actual understanding of what to expect and a schedule of events was no easy feat....No one, not even the official website, had a very precise description of start time or venues.We had to  rely on past experiences, (Cruisers who have been here in prior years), before we finally felt we had a handle on it all. 

Fancy "Bras"…all hand made
A few days before the big events, Meghan and I took a tour to see one of the kids steel pan bands practice and to get a "behind the scenes" tour of how the legendary Carnival Costumes are made. It was a good night, the music was great and we were both floored at the amount of work, attention to detail, & various materials which are needed: In order to best take advantage of the Caribbean sunshine, a huge variety of shiny, glittery material is used to enhance the hand made costumes.. so mirrors, sequins, plastic gem stones, shiny feathers, glitter etc...are favoured. The men and women who were hand building each costume, were in the final 48 hours before “show time” and it reminded me of the few days of baking and cooking and other last minute preparations that go on in our country before Christmas. You could tell that these hard working individuals were prepared to stay up all night to get it all done....They were very generous with their time in showing us the various aspects of the art of making a good Carnival Costume !  We had fun trying on a head dress (from last years Carnival- as we were not allowed to touch this year’s outfits) and eating the traditional  Grenadian "Oil Down" they had prepared for us….(Complete with Pig Snouts !)

'Oil Down' (Grenada's National Dish)

costumes in the making

During the Carnival (Monday and Tuesday), the costumes and dancers  compete as a panel of judges watch them go by. We hope that the Costume makers we met are rewarded for all of their hard work and will get a first prize; bragging rights for a whole year !

Carnival officially started on Monday Aug 11th.  The first major even to take place is the early morning “J’ouvert” (which they pronounce : ‘Joové’) which starts at 4:00 am. It is a large street party/parade where people turn themselves into “demons”, covered in black oil (some use oil, other use paints or even chocolate!), they don Viking helmets, chains, and other monstrous looking masks and scare the evil spirits away before dawn.....Participants and spectators alike are warned that “No one will go unscathed”, and so wearing old unwanted clothes to J’ouvert is strongly recommended...the “demons” will only be too happy to pour paint all over you as you stand by watching !  

So, it was in these such clothes that Mark bravely set out at 4:00 am on Monday. He was joined by his equally enthusiastic friend Tony (SV Pavo Real) who’d had his hair breaded by Meghan and her friends the night before to best resemble his Inner Viking.....Tony made all the Bugs Bunny fans smile, as he loudly sang :  “Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit....with my sword and magic hel...mut”....

MC, Matthew and Meghan joined in the fun at 6:00am, once the sun was up... we put on our old clothes and, very tentatively, head into town……We were not disappointed !…..We saw demons everywhere, but nothing too scary, and everyone was most considerate of the children, they did not try to hug or paint us.....What an experience we had !

Here are a few pictures of J’ouvert....

University Students returning from the Party...

Kill the Wabbit…..

After coming home, cleaning up and resting.....we got ready for the next event “ Fancy Mas”. Which is the parade with all of  the wonderful costumes we had seen a few days before (in the making). Children, women and Men, were all decked out, parading in themed sections,  each one lead by a large truck carrying many 6 foot speakers piled on top of one another, giving off  more decibels of  SOCA music than human ears should be able to handle....
Speaker truck

On that note ; earlier that day, I had gone into to a bank and found that its windows were vibrating quite violently from the speakers in the streets.....Trying to have a conversation near the music is an impossible task.....

Again, in true Caribbean style, no one had any real clue as to when the “Fancy Mas” parade was going to start, so we all gathered on the  main street at the recommended time: 2pm....As we sat and waited we met a great many others cruisers, many from Montreal, and enjoyed each others company in the sun, while we waited....and waited...3pm...a snow cone vendor was located by the children, and luckily there were plenty of stalls selling drinks and beer.....4pm.....some cruisers were beginning to think that there was no parade...people started hinting that they were going back to the boat.....and then...just like that started !  A great bustle as everyone stood at the side of the road to see the processions...much worth the wait !  What a beautiful thing to behold ! Although the music was not my favourite...the same “mind blowingly” loud and repetitive (and sometimes totally inappropriate  )  SOCA music!  But the costumes  !...... Wow !  

While watching in awe at the elaborate head dresses, butterflies wings and dragons etc....A fellow Canadian made the funny comparison to Canada day, in a mock conversation with a Grenadian: “So what is your big day in Canada?”....”Oh we have Canada Day!!!”...”And what do you do then?”  “Oh, It’s SO great ! We all get dressed up.. in red and white clothes!!!!”Haha, Now that we have seen the colour and costumes in Grenada, makes Canada Day look a bit simplistic........Not to be unpatriotic or anything…………
Just saying..

A few of us headed to Happy 
Hour at the Marina after the parade and enjoyed the festive mood that was all around us !  

The last event of the day was “Monday Night Mas” ....essentially is a parade of lights.....sponsored by three of the largest companies in Grenada: "Carib Beer", "Lime" and "Digicel" (two cell phone companies)....people who had bough their “Carnival kits” on the weeks before Carnival walked alongside their designated float. Each participant was wearing lights (on head bands, hats etc) which gave a fantastic light show for all the spectators...As we watched the procession of more than10 000 people coming down the hill towards us, with lights twinkling, floats lit up like something out of Disney World...all we could do was to mouthe a collective “Wow” !  

On Tuesday morning, we had a welcome break from all the noise, oops, I mean “music”,  getting ready for the final event which was the “professional/fancy Mas”: Another parade, similar to Monday afternoons, but with formal presentation by each group in front of judges. 

We gathered again, at the designated time of 2pm....and we waited, again...for a few hours before things got underway (No, we don't learn very quickly)..... Once it had started and as we stood by the roadside watching the parade go by,  a few of us  spotted the place where the judges were sittingand so we rushed over to get closer to see all the competitive action..It was all very exciting and, as I was snapping pictures, it was not long before I had been separated from my friends, and I found myself engulfed into the “thick of it all”...surrounded by competitors, ..for a few minutes I was unable to even snap a picture as all I could see were feathers and glitter ...and frankly..I felt a bit lost is a sea of..dancing breasts ...all around me..So  I got into a crouching position and found myself  close to all  the beautiful children who surrounded me and I enjoyed their incredible energy.......Eventually I was able to free myself and get back to the spectator side of things..but what a RUSH that was ..I then climbed up high on a fence to get the best view of the masses of Carnival revelers.....It was...very, very cool to see !  I can see how people might loose their children in these crowds.....luckily our kids where up high also, and holding firmly to hands when crowds were at their thickest

                                                                          This lovely Carnival Queen offered  me her "hat" to try on !

Once the parade was all done....Meghan was happily picking pieces of the beautiful costumes from off the the time we got to the dinghy, she had gathered enough gem stones to build herself a small version of the costumes ! 

This was our first Carnival in the Caribbean and we are so very happy to have been able to have participated to the extent that we did ! 

All that we have left now are the memories and the photos of the last few we now enjoy the return of peace and quiet in the anchorage.....phew...That was FUN !

This reminded me alot about…..

….This…..(From Tintin et les Picaros)

Crowds in the After Parade

Don't try this at home….