Thursday, April 16, 2009
Two seemingly unrelated topics. . .
When cruising the Caribbean island chain you simply must have your charts (paper for us of course) and a cruising guide. Down here every one uses Chris Doyle’s guides. There good. Cruising guides tell you check in procedures, where to get repairs, restaurants, shopping, navigation tips, and more. It’s filled with ads as well for many of the fun establishments that you might want to visit. This is all good.
But, sometimes you just want to find something that isn’t in the guide. This is nearly impossible as these islands are now well travelled. Today we went for a walk out of town. We walked north and around the corner until we could see Sandy Island that we had sailed to the other day. From the road we could see an establishment down by the beach. I said to Sue, “That looks like the place we were looking at through our binoculars. Wanna go see”? Of course. We walked down a little dirt track to the beach and there sat Off the Hook Bar and Grill. A tidy little place with a great beach and view of the ocean.
It’s NOT in the guide!
The place is owned and operated by a damn friendly guy named Curtis. His family is originally from Carriacou and in fact his bar is on his mom’s land. He said he lived for twenty years in Brooklyn NY and feels like he has escaped. He misses nothing from the big city and is one happy guy. He will also run people out to Sandy Island for snorkeling or picnic in his boat and then pick them up later. We had a few beers and lunch which was one darn delicious pizza!
While we were there I started talking to a little boy as he was constructing a traditional Caribbean kite. Kites are very popular down here. They fly them at Easter to represent the resurrection but kids just fly them any old time as well. As I watched he stripped some sticks from a palm frond and made a star shape with them. Then he wrapped string from end to end of the sticks. Simple enough but then comes a bow shape that must give the kite its aerodynamics. Quite involved actually but he seemed to have the process down. I asked him who taught him how to make the kite. He smiled and said, “I did”! Turns out this is Curtis’ son. While we talked with Curtis later he pointed to his son and the several friends who had showed up and said, “Look at them. I couldn’t let them go out and play in Brooklyn. No way”. True.
The kids at this point were playing Cricket. They had set up two milk crates for wickets. They scrounged a variety of boards for their bats and they had a tennis ball. I’m starting to understand the game a little as that’s all there is down here and watching this pick up game was pretty choice.
Well, it was a great find and well worth the walk (maybe a mile). We hope Curtis does well and gets more business but at the same time would like to keep Off the Hook as our own secret place! We did promise Curtis that we would spread the word to cruisers. He shows outdoor movies on his own billboard screen and serves popcorn of course and on Thursday nights he plays jazz and has a bonfire. Cruisers will love this 'soon not to be a secret' place.
Now for the seeminly unrelated topic.
With the advent of GPS navigation more people are willing to do what we are doing than ever before. You can cry about the lost skills of coastal navigation but you’re going to have to sit in the corner with the people who bemoaned the advent of the pocket calculator. There’s no going back and I wouldn’t want to. So, since everyone has GPS on their boats the people who make the charts put in handy waypoints with the lat long in the corner so you can punch them into your GPS machine. What’s the result? Sometimes the open seas look like a highway with a string of boats strung from one way point to the next. Kind of funny actually. I try to take the waypoints as a general guide and know I usually have miles of room on either side of a line connecting them. I think once some sailors punch in the numbers and then set the auto helm the boats are automatically steered on the connecting line. AND if the wind doesn’t allow for that line exactly well then you take down your sails and motor to the detriment of honing your sailing skills. Once again, this is not really an annoyance. Trust me there’s PLENTY of room still in the freaking ocean. Just an observation.
Written by Captain Snappy -- posted by Sailor Sue