June 13, 2021
As part of one of her school projects and thanks to our friend Solfrid, Marina was able to go to a Syrian refugee camp in the Bekaa valley. She reports that living conditions are marginal; they are in tents, with limited access to water, electricity, and sanitation. More dramatic is the situation of children who cannot attend regular schools. Solfrid and others have helped mobilize teachers and improvise a couple of class-rooms. They can handle what would be the equivalent of primary school in two groups (grades 1 to 3 and 4 to 6), but there is nothing yet for those who are ready to go to secondary school. One of the ways they generate income to fund the school is by making and selling crochet animals (see pic). Marina is trying to set up a virtual group to help sell the animals. She has an initial cargo worth USD 800 enough to fund 4 children for one year. The “government” here is not doing anything about it.
Marina will be packing today while Natalia, her parents and I go to the beach. She flies to Paris tonight to spend time with her mother and sister. Will see her next in DC where we are all gathering before flying to Grenada.
There are flights from Beirut to Grenada through Europe, but very expensive. It was much cheaper to buy separate one-way tickets to Washington DC and from the DC to St Georges. This also had the advantage of being able to buy things I wanted to bring to the boat. First the new dinghy, but also a folding table for the cockpit, 2 candle lamps, 3 DC fans, a solar anchor light, a power strip (since 3 people will be charging computers, Ipads, and Iphones), a solar power bank of 30,000 mAh, rubber leg tips for the swimming ladder, a new Iridium Go external antenna adapter, the hardcover of Webb Chile’s book “Return to the Sea” (not available in kindle), and a pair of boat shoes. They were all shipped to DC.
The various jobs that had to be done in Antares are progressing well. They have installed a new flushing system for the head that I understand is working well, the port windows have been re-sealed, the teak is fully varnished and they are almost done repainting the deck. Before we go they will also change a couple of life-lines, fix a stanchion that is bended, clean the bilge and polish the hull.
Natalia and I depart Beirut on June 28. Marina will join us there on the 30th and, if all goes well, we will fly to Grenada on July 1st. Initially, the plan was to sail up to Bequia stoping in the islands in between. But with the various regulations imposed by St Vincent due to COVID, including a quarantine, we are likely to limit our cruising to the south and west coasts of Grenada and Carriaco. In Grenada, those who are fully vaccinated only need to do a quarantine of 2 days in a hotel while waiting for the results of the PCR test. Apparently, you can also do the quarantine in the boat. I have to call and find out.