Tiny House Blog: Favorite Things

New on Tiny House Blog!

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My article “FAVORITE THINGS” was published on Tiny House Blog last week while we were out in the middle of the Caribbean Sea making our way North from Grenada to USVI. Please check it out, click the link below, and leave a comment! I appreciate your support!

Favorite Things

The Belmont Estate Part 2: Cocoa Beans and Nutmeg

The Grenada Chocolate Company makes delicious chocolate ‘from tree to bar’ right here in Grenada!

We took a tour of Belmont Estate with our friends David, Toutou, Maya and Tyler on Four Coconuts during the island’s annual Chocolate Week in July.

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We learned about how the cocoa beans are processed…

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And also how mace and nutmeg are processed.

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We sampled an EXCELLENT local chocolate drink that’s 10-times better than the hot chocolate we grew up with from the U.S.

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And we tried samples of the final product… locally made gourmet dark chocolate!

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Kelly was our excellent and cheery guide.

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And of course we had to take home a few souvenirs 🙂

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Up next… The Goat Dairy!!!

The Belmont Estate Part 1: The Scenery

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One of the first adventures we took upon arrival to Grenada was a tour of Belmont Estate during the island’s “Chocolate Week”. Grenada is famous for making delicious chocolate from the plentiful cocoa beans that grow all over the island. Our friends David, Toutou, Maya and Tyler on Four Coconuts shared an hour-long bus ride (16-person van) up into the mountains of Grenada to visit Belmont Estate.

I took so many beautiful photos that I’ll have to split up the posts. Scroll down to see some shots of just the gorgeous grounds…

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Many colorful flowers were in bloom…

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There are vegetable and herb gardens on the Estate…

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The Red-Footed Tortoise is native to Central and South America but has been introduced to several Caribbean islands, including Grenada. There is a significant population in Carriacou and many of the islands in the Grenadines.

The kids had fun meeting the tortoises that live at Belmont Estate…

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We saw talking parrots…

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Butterflies were everywhere!

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I think they do weddings here too 😉

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My favorite photo… Maya and Toutou!

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Up next… a lot of cocoa beans and nutmeg!!!

Welcome to Carriacou: A Wild Ride

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The morning of July 18th Peter and I had almost made it to Carriacou, one of the three main islands that make up the Country of Grenada. It was a gorgeous sail and our night passage had gone smoothly. We approached the Northern coast of Carriacou just as a dark and ominous group of clouds were quickly building over the center of the island.

Within minutes we could see a wall of rain cover the island pushing West toward the entrance to our charted anchorage, Tyrell Bay. This was our first time entering this anchorage and the comments on Active Captain already had our nerves on edge about the exact course to take when entering to avoid the reefs. We were prepared for careful navigation around the hazards described on the charts but we were not prepared for what happened next…

We were already approaching the coast and our course was plotted to go between The Sisters rocks and Carriacou for a left turn into Tyrell Bay. We had a gap of about 1 nautical mile to safely cross through.

With heavy rains approaching like a Tsunami, Peter and I raced to get the big 135% Genoa furled in. We didn’t have time to close up the isinglass surrounding our cockpit AND get both sails down. Our Mizzen sail was just going to remain up. It’s all we could do.

Just then, a crazy gust ripped off the hills of Carriacou and barreled at us in what was now a very angry squall. We watched with frightened eyes as the wind gauge clocked 45+ knots of sustained wind and practically knocked us down on the starboard side. Our rail was in the water and I was hanging on from a vertical perch on the port side while keeping a watchful eye on the confused dogs. It was a moment I felt very grateful for a fully enclosed cockpit!

Still a little shaken up from the last nightmare squall and ferry incident in St. Kitts, it was instinct to immediately turn the engine on and restart the chartplotter as quickly as possible. We flipped through the touchscreen dialog and raced to get the radar turned on. Unfortunately the rain was so heavy it blocked all radar signatures of land even with the gain set to minimum. We could only rely on the GPS readings on the chartplotter to guide ourselves away from The Sisters.

The Mizzen sail immediately wanted to point us up wind toward Carriacou but the rain was so heavy we could only see less than two boat lengths in all directions. The wind and currents were not providing safe conditions to allow the boat to point to wind or heave-to since we were exactly between The Sisters rocks and Carriacou by then. We were SOO close from our destination, yet it felt so far away.

With the rudder pinned hard right and the wind trying to turn us back left, we were pushed a total of 4 miles off shore GOING SIDEWAYS at a whopping 7 knots!! The bad news was that we were being carried nearly as fast as the squall was moving so it really wasn’t passing over us. The good news was that as long as we were clear of The Sisters, it was okay that we were headed out to sea; a much safer place than near invisible land masses and treacherous rock formations.

A least an hour passed before it wasn’t ‘too dangerous’ for Peter to go out on deck and drop the Mizzen so we could motor back on course. Weakened from the adrenaline rush, we motored straight for Tyrell Bay and dropped the hook in the back of the anchorage, made sure it was set well, took the dogs potty on deck and then got some much needed rest.

“WELCOME TO CARRIACOU!!”

Later in the afternoon Peter went to shore to check us in before we treated ourselves to some snorkeling at the nearby Saline Island with our friends Susan and LA on Genesis. (Thanks Susan for the photos!!)

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We saw a nurse shark hiding under the coral…

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And lobster and fishies…

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We got back just in time to see a spectacular sunset. The next several days were spent relaxing and feeling accomplished that we had actually made it ALL THE WAY down to Grenada!

The fun wasn’t over, however. On both the second AND third day after our terrifying arrival, we were hit by two more 45+ knot squalls while at anchor. Our holding was excellent so we just watched intently to make sure no one in front of us was dragging, and rode out the storms. We later found out that boats down on the South side of Grenada were clocking 65 knots! I guess we’d rather take 45 than 65.

How’s that for a warm and fuzzy ‘WELCOME TO CARRIACOU’!!

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St. Lucia: Dolphins and the Pitons

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After Dominica, we sailed into St. Lucia’s Northwestern port of Rodney Bay to rest up. Our stay was relatively non-eventful.

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July 17th we set out for our last passage to Windward en route to Carriacou. A pod of playful dolphins swam out to wish us farewell.

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The Pitons on the Southern end of St. Lucia are a spectacular sight to see.

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Maybe next season we’ll stop to experience The Pitons up close and personal. Next stop… Carriacou!

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Even Gunner was excited. He snuck in a kiss for his daddy when he thought I wasn’t looking 🙂

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We are currently preparing to leave Grenada and head back North to spend the Winter in the Virgin Islands! Stay tuned for all the pictures from our adventures in Grenada and the Grenadines!

Dominica: Indian River Tour

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The Indian River Tour in Dominica is a great way to see some of the natural beauty this island has to offer. Named after the native Carib Indians, this river is the longest in all of Dominica and once served as an important route of travel between the mountains above and the sea below.

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Who remembers the little house in the mangroves where Calypso lives? That scene from Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed here… We even got to go inside!!

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Our guide, Titus, rowed us as far as we could go, slowly pulling up to a little wooden dock on the river’s edge.

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We stepped out of the boat and followed a small trail up the hill toward what is known as the “Bush Bar.” The vibrant flowers and lush gardens were bursting with color.

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Termite nests were everywhere…

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Fresh Avocados…

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Sweet cocoa beans…

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Bananas…

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Passionfruit…

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Cinnamon bark and nutmeg…

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Fresh squeezed juice was waiting for us at the top of the hill…

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The most delicious guava you could ever imagine…

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Sugar cane cut into small pieces were a delight to suck on.

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The farmers sent us home with a huge handful of fresh lettuce, herbs, vegetables, spices and fruits, all harvested especially for us straight from the plentiful Dominican lands.

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Fresh coconut water and coconut meat to snack on…

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Fresh coconut is my FAVORITE treat!!!

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Dominica is a beautiful island and we only got to see a small portion of the many wonders it has to offer. We will definitely return in the Spring to explore again!!

The post Dominica: Indian River Tour appeared first on Where The Coconuts Grow.

Tiny House Blog: Yurt Life with the Stolz

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“YURT LIFE” has just been published featuring our friends on S/V Necesse as they tell about their recent trip to visit to Eben’s brother and his wife Mel up at their Mountain Yurt in Canada. The Stolz men are all about unconventional living!

Yurt Life

Spearfishing in Dominica

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Guadaloupe was a very short stop. After a late morning nap we gathered ourselves together and prepared for the next leg of the trip leaving just a few hours later for Dominica.

Portsmouth in Dominica treated us well for the next few days. Liquid sunshine glistened on our skin and we enjoyed the quiet anchorage.

Most of the beach bars and restaurants were closed because it was so late in the season. Luckily, one very small local bar called Monty’s was open and serving the fresh catch of the day. If you ever visit Dominica, be sure to find this hidden gem in the northern most corner of Portsmouth, marked by a small rock jetty.

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After a bad incident a few years back, several of the locals have gotten together to form what is called the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security (P.A.Y.S) – a group of trained and certified locals that patrol the harbor 24/7 from November through May. We were told that even if you can’t see them, they are watching. We felt very safe. These guys also double as tour guides each with their own flair.

For our first time in Dominica, Titus became “our guy,” representing the Lawrence of Arabia group of boat boys (also part of the P.A.Y.S. association. We took a wonderful tour up the Indian River with him (stay tuned for pics in the next post) and he even took us out on a private tour to all the best local spearfishing spots!

Foreigners are not allowed to spearfish in Dominica, unless accompanied by a local. Titus was just doing us a favor by taking us out on his boat, but he was pleasantly surprised when Peter slayed one Lionfish after another in just a short two-hour period.

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Peter got two in one shot on his first kill!

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He carefully handed the spear up to Titus where he clubbed the two monsters and then removed the spear tip, sliding them off the end of the spear into his boat.

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We ended up with at least 10 large Lionfish and shared half the catch with Titus. Five Lionfish provided a decent size meal for two people.

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Here are two videos we managed to capture on our iPhone 5 in an Otterbox Preserver case:

Peter was happy to get some spearfishing in while doing his part to help eliminate this terribly invasive species. For more information on this serious Lionfish problem click <HERE>.

Have you ever tasted Lionfish before? What did you think?

Nevis to Guadeloupe: Spinner Dolphins and Rainbows

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It was such a short hop over to Nevis once we left St. Kitts. The hillsides and black sand beaches were breathtaking at Pinney’s Beach.

We took the dinghy around the point for a little snorkeling near the rocky points. The water wasn’t very clear that day so we headed back toward where we were anchored and snorkeled off the beach near some scattered coral heads. Peter got a little too close and accidentally poked himself on an urchin. NO FUN!

Our diving adventures were cut short, but we still enjoyed the scenery.

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Unfortunately we left our credit card at Salt Plage back on St. Kitts so we had to turn back and get it the next day. The management was incredibly helpful and even bought us a drink for our inconveniences. It’s not so easy to just cancel a credit card and have a new one mailed out when we live on a boat with no mailing address. Oh well. It was an easy sail and it only set us back one day.

As we set out for Guadeloupe, a small pod of spinner dolphins came out to play as we passed by Nevis around dinnertime….

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We left St. Kitts at 5:45pm on July 7th. Our night passage started off terribly uncomfortable when we made the mistake of not getting far enough off shore. The shoals south of Nevis stirred up the sea in a violent way and had us considering turning around to wait for settled weather.  Our friends Dustin and Courtney were planning to leave Nevis not long after us and we later heard they took a wave on the flybridge of Captiva, a 75′ Catamaran, on that very same passage! We persevered, wearily arriving at Deshaies, Guadeloupe at 10:15 am just in time to see a beautiful rainbow above our sistership, Lunacy.

We were finally a good distance down the island chain!

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We’re currently in Grenada wrapping up Hurricane Season and preparing to sail back north to the Virgin Islands… stay tuned for more adventures!

St. Kitts: Wreck Diving

While anchored in White House Bay, we dove this awesome wreck in shallow water. See for yourself!

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Would you go explore an underwater wreck? Leave us a comment!