Thursday, 23 June 2016

Carriacou, Cricket and a Correct Injector.

Carriacou, Cricket and a Correct Injector.

Another OCC get together!

No sooner had we dropped anchor than Ken on Badgers Set came over to invite us to the first of very many great social events. This was Pizza night at the Iguana Cafe at the boatyard which became an OCC mini rally, the majority of us being members. Good pizza made in a proper wood fired oven. This became a regular event during the month we spent here.

Independence day decorations

Uwe, the engineer, came on Saturday afternoon and within an hour we had a 100% working engine! Quite a strange feeling as now we were free to go anywhere. So far, all this season, wherever we had gone it was always followed by “and then we will go back to Carriacou”. However, as Rowena was not feeling too good again (Chikengunya) we elected to stay for a while and catch up with the many boats that we knew in the bay, and of course, we met a few new ones too.

Sunset over Tyrell Bay

There were two birthday dinners, Roger’s (Golden Fleece) 70th and Richards. Roger had a BBQ dinner on the sea front at Tante Lizzies and Richard a dinner at Tante Mavis, who we think is the best cook in Carriacou. Both evenings there were about 18 of us and a good time was had by all.

Watching T20 cricket

Several more lunches, dinners and sundowners followed on various boats. Later it was time for some to move on south, so we said our goodbyes and stayed on for the cricket. It began with World T20 on TV at the Iguana Cafe. The final was England West Indies so great atmosphere and lots of cheering when WI beat us!

Or if you don't want to watch the cricket there is always the wildlife

We watched a few games of local 40 over cricket, taken very seriously by the players. Funds are low so often you see a batsman walk off and hand the bat to the next one. 

Even the aeroplanes don't distract from the action!

There is no scoreboard, even though we were watching in the national stadium, so every now and then one of us would walk over to the players pavilion to hear the score. 

The locals enjoying themselves in the 'Jack Iron' stand - note the sheep and goats to cut the outfield!

Peter, our friend, sponsors cricket here so all the players know him and now and then they would walk over for a chat and we could get the score, even though they did not always seem sure what it was!

Relaxing in the 'members' stand!

Rowena started going to water aerobics again, rather feebly at first, but improving. Richard’s new hobby is his ukulele and he is improving all the time too!

Round the boat the sea continues to intrigue. We have spotted turtles, 1m long barracuda, needlefish and even an eagle ray. The most interesting are the fishing bats which we have not seen since Culebra. Coming back in the dinghy at night they swoop through the torch beam which must attract the little fish they catch. If we keep the torch on the water they will stay around but then we feel bad about all the little fish they are eating.

A Laughing Gull feeding frenzy

 There are hundreds of Laughing Gulls here at the moment and their manic laughter is a constant background to our day. They are not like seagulls in Europe that scavenge, they catch fish in their red beaks while their little black legs seem scramble along the surface of the sea.

Of course, once a feeding frenzy gets going, the Frigate birds arrive and try to snatch the gulls catch. A few Brown Boobies usually join in the melee and then the Brown Pelicans come crashing in. Cattle Egrets and Little Blue Herons fly to and from the mangroves. 

Rufus - The best fruit and veg in Tyrell bay

With winds due to turn south easterly we decided to have a trip up to Bequia. We are not going to go far this season, having decided to leave the boat in Grenada while we go back to Europe. 

Sorting the days catch on the foreshore

After a lovely but short catch up with Compass Rose we set off on 14th April to catch up with Ansari in Bequia.

A view north from Carriacou - This was taken from the balcony of our friends Peter and Cathy's house. On a clear day you can see all the way to Bequia some 40 miles away and all the islands in between.                                                                Sometimes even as far as St Vincent. You lucky people!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

South from St Lucia

South from St Lucia

Wednesday 2nd March 2016.
The plan is to leave Marigot Bay at first light. This is an early start but we are up and away just as dawn breaks over the palm trees.
No wind to start with so we are motoring towards the south of the island. By the time we are off Soufriere we have the beginning of a breeze. The sails are all up and we are off! This is a good sailing day so we are in the company of a few boats heading south and meet a few heading north. As we are on port tack, we even had to give way to two yachts coming in the opposite direction. Rowena likened it to a day in the Solent – I don’t think so! The sun is shining, the sea is slight to moderate the breeze is 12-14 Kts on the beam and we are sailing at over 6kts, perfek!
Can today get any better? I think it just did! On our starboard side we spot a pod of dolphins, they come towards us and spend 10-15 minutes swimming alongside, diving under and around us. These curious creatures we can hear squeaking to each other are Atlantic spotted dolphins but unfortunately it is a language that neither of us understands or speaks! We can see all ages around us, mothers with young calves, adult males and adolescents. Eventually they tire of our company and disappear off into the ocean but not before a few dozen pictures are taken. We felt honoured that they had spent so much time with us. This has happened to other boats we know but never to us for a long period. We wondered whether it was because we were sailing slightly faster than usual so we were a bit more fun for them.
As usual we have to reef down at the top of St Vincent but are rewarded with another dolphin sighting. This time it is two adults and a baby bottlenose, unlike the Atlantic spotted we saw earlier, these three just crossed our path and carried on their way. We have made such good time on our passage we decide to continue on to Bequia. Just as well as we later heard of a German sailor shot dead and two of the crew wounded at Walliabou Bay on this day. Our decision earned us yet more Cetacean sightings, this time it was pilot whales just north of Chateaubelair Bay! A bit further away, so no photos. We could just see their blows and black backs and fins as they porpoised along .
 We are now headed by the tide and with light winds will have to motor for a couple of hours until we are clear of the south of St Vincent. With the sun sinking towards the horizon, we sail the last miles between St Vincent and Bequia, only dropping the sails as we round the ‘Devils table’ beacon. We motor across the bay and anchor off ‘Jacks bar’ in 8.5m of water. We are a bit further off than we would normally be but it is now 1800hrs and we have had a long but rewarding day sailing. (67 miles in 11.5 hours = 5.8Kts not bad for us).
Our plan is to spend a couple of days in Bequia then move on south.

Saturday morning we are off to Canouan to meet our friends on Secouden.  We haven’t seen Bill and Krista for over a year and the plan is to meet for a BBQ supper and a few drinks! Somehow we must be charmed at the moment, as between Bequia and Canouan we spot a whales blow! Off on our starboard side, heading north, we can see big black bodies, fins and blows! Finally we see three tails and then they are gone into the deep! Consulting our whale book we determine we have seen Sperm whales! Thank goodness Bequia have stopped whaling!
It is a short four hour run to Canouan and we are anchored close to Secouden in plenty of time for a swim before supper. A lovely calm anchorage, ideal for a braai! Pork chops, chicken legs, salad and all washed down with a few beers and a glass of wine, with good company an ideal end to an excellent day. Tomorrow Secouden are heading north to St Lucia, we are heading south to the Tobago Cays and then to Carriacou to see our engineer and have the last of our new injector nozzles fitted.

Just like the brochure

The Tobago Cays at last. It has only taken us three years to get to the place that inspired our Caribbean adventure!  Yes it is every bit as pretty as the brochures but we have seen some equally nice places along the way.

Anchored in front of Baradal
Anchored just south of the turtle sanctuary off Baradal with the Horseshoe reef in front of us we really are in the ‘lee of Africa’, nothing in front of us but ocean. The anchorage is calm. Around us clear turquoise blue water and yes, turtles popping up to breathe all around. We do notice they just seem to take one breath and quickly drop down again, probably put off by the many boats. We have been places where they seem to warm themselves in the sun for a while, taking many breaths before slowly swimming back down to the grass.

It's a hard life!
The snorkelling is good even if there are no turtles to be seen inside the turtle watching reserve!  Not what we expected – it is quite rubbly and not very colourful, but many hard corals. A lot of fish, all the usual reef fish and some big ones too:

French Grunts and Palmetto

Tarpon, 1m horse eye jacks, mature parrotfish, southern sting rays and palometos. Some lovely sea fans and a lot of algae, mostly green which I understood as meaning not a healthy reef.

Two different phases of the Queen Parrot fish

But there are many urchins and damsel fish which eat algae so maybe this is what it is meant to look like. We did not see any turtles while snorkeliing, I suppose we should have swum off the boat when we saw them, but I did not want to harass them.

Southern Stingray
We walk to the top of Jamesby island to admire the view across to Union Island as far as Carriacou and many small islands in between. We can see our passage out, threading between the reefs. We had better not get it wrong!  It is very arid, most plants wilted or dying, really only the cacti looked happy.

Spotted Trunkfish being cleaned

Walking along the beach we spot a small Blacktip shark swimming in the shallows, if there are small sharks then Mummy and Daddy must be around somewhere close! Rowena is glad we saw the Shark after we had our swim!

A Little Blacktip reef shark
We have been here for three days and strong north easterly winds and northerly swells are predicted. We decide to spend a few days anchored off Frigate Island which is completely sheltered from the north and the east while the worst of the weather blows through. Then we will move to Chatham bay for a few days. We will have to come back to Frigate again so we can get the bus to Clifton  to check out of St. Vincent before we go to Carriacou.

Anchored off Frigate Island
The southern route out through the reefs is a bit nerve wracking but pretty straightforward. The 9 mile sail to Frigate Island takes 3 hours! Probably the slowest journey yet!

Another beautiful evening in Ashton Harbour

We only have a very gentle breeze and not enough wind to overcome the current at the southern end of Union island. We had been sailing at about a knot and a half when the current stopped us dead!

The wind blows but we are not moving!
The next day it is very windy and we are joined by lots of boats seeking shelter. We count 22 not including us. Our early arrival has ensured we have got a good spot. Perfectly sheltered we decide to dinghy ashore. It is quite a distance and not without incident as we manage to touch the bottom on some of the old Marina workings left in Ashton harbour. Fortunately we are motoring slowly as the water is very shallow in places.

How we moored in Ashton

On arrival at the town dock it is so shallow we have to paddle the last few yards. There appear to be no cleats on the dock (we subsequently discovered that they have been stolen!)

Ashton from the dinghy dock

 We had been warned about this so we had taken a length of chain to wrap around a concrete bollard with two old bits of rusty iron sticking out. At least the dinghy will be secure while we are ashore.

Frigate Island from the bus
We walk up the road from the dock to catch the bus to Clifton and watch the Six Nations rugby in a bar. It being Saturday, we ask an elderly Rasta man if the busses are running. He thinks they are but if we are “limin’ for a bus, then we are limin’ in the wrong place!”(Brilliant!) He directs us up the street towards a road junction as the best place to wait. We needn’t have worried as a couple of minutes later along comes the bus. “You goin’ up” says the driver. “Yea I’m goin’ up” the skipper says.  (Anyone need a translation?)

The smallest screen!

The buses are crowded as always but everyone is good humoured while the driver waits for the last passengers. The short bus ride is uneventful , but very bumpy on the bad roads and quite hair raising as it goes at speed very close to deep culverts and rough edges avoiding other vehicles, people and goats.

We find the bar advertising the rugby on the TV, unfortunately it appeared that the sports channel are only showing the second half of the match. Fortunately the barman had an app on his phone which enables us to watch the first half. It takes real rugby fans to crowd around a tiny screen watching a game!

Clifton Veg market
We had a couple of trips to Clifton, and our impression from the last time we were here is that apart from the fruit and veg stalls the provisioning has deteriorated. Maybe the locals all do their grocery shopping online from St Vincent. We did see an advert to that effect in the local paper. The grocery store delivers to the ferry and you collect it at the other end. A pretty good service offered on a remote island.

Lady JJ off to Carriacou
Time to leave SVG, our engineer is now available to fit the injector nozzle so we must go south to Carriacou. As we are leaving a squall comes through so we waited until it had passed. Like busses it is always the second one you catch! And we did! Fortunately we did not get wet for long. The run down to Tyrell bay took 2 hours. 

Bye Bye Union Island

 Motoring into the bay we anchored in what we considered a good spot .It must be as we found ourselves just behind ‘Badgers Sett’. We were there by lunchtime so were able to check in before heading off to Pizza night at the Iguana cafĂ© in the boatyard. Seven boats including us and all OCC members except one! Looks like we are in for a sociable time again!

Monday, 18 April 2016

St Lucia Feb 2016

St Lucia Feb 2016

Here we are in St Lucia again, where our Caribbean adventure started three years ago!
We are in plenty of time to meet with Ruth and Michael. While we are here we will get some boat repairs done (what a surprise!)
As always we manage to meet up with friends old and new. The social whirl continues with Badgers Sett, Coho, Crazy Diamond, Mai Tai, Infini, Shian and new boats, Baloo, Grace Richard and Golden Fleece.
Sundowners on various boats, Rowena does the Ladies Cruisers lunch, and the ‘boys’ have a separate lunch at the Antillian brewing company. (Just to prove that we can organise booze up in a brewery!) This is St Lucia’s only micro-brewery and brews English style beers. It is proving very popular. They do pale ale, stout and golden wheat ale as well as seasonal ale which was passion fruit. Rowena’s favourite!

To escape the excitement of the bay we decamp to the marina for the duration of Ruth and Michaels visit. The sailmaker is our 1st port of call as we have to have a new zip fitted to our Mizzen stack pack. The rest of the fabric is still good so a new zip gives us a few more years of use.

We are also looking to improve our reefing as on our way up from St Vincent we managed to break one of the reefing slides. There is nowhere here we can buy a new one but we discover that we have some cringles in the foot of the sail that we can pass the lines through and just tie the lines round the boom. Job done and one less thing to break in the future! 

Not what we expected!

While we are here our new toilet seat lid has cracked. This is down to poor manufacturing as it is only a few months old. Talking to others it would appear we are not the only ones with this problem. It appears that Lavac’s quality is not what it was. The repair involves some resin and glass fibre cloth. We will get a new one on our return to the UK in the summer, even though nobody is admitting liability!

Ruth and Michael arrive and immediately are in holiday and party mode. We have a week of lunches and dinners aboard and ashore.

BBQ 'Jump up' style

 Of course we go to the Friday night ‘Jump up’ with a whole gang of us.

At the 'Jump up' again!

Two consequences of their visit are that we finally have the correct injector! Richard also has a ukulele so the skipper is now learning to play a few tunes! Not exactly Segovia or Bob Dylan but it is lots of fun! Hopefully we don’t annoy the neighbours too much!

Ukulele practice!

No visit is complete without a sail. As they have just one week we only have time for a trip along the coast and a night on board. Still it is a nice sail and the day ends with a BBQ on board and more ukulele playing.

The Skipper gives his instructions!

While Ruth and Michael are with us, St Lucia celebrates 37 years of independence from the UK. Independence Day is a public holiday but in the week leading up to the day everywhere is decorated with the national colours. Everyone is very patriotic.

Independence windows!

Once Ruth and Michael leave it is time to head back to Carriacou to finally get our engine repairs completed.
 On the way south we had a couple of nights in Marigot bay. It was very crowded outside the lagoon and we almost run aground trying to find a spot to anchor. Our depth gauge read 1.7m (we draw 1.6m) so Rowena suddenly puts the boat in astern! I think we were still afloat (just!) Thank goodness for forward looking sonar.

Marigot was very crowded but the snorkelling was interesting. - Juvenile French angelfish, pretty juvenile damselfish, a Chequered Puffer fish swimming (usually they just lie on the bottom) and an unusual scorpion fish. 

A good find! - But don't step on him!
We ended up moving 3 times just so we were not crowded in for our early morning departure. We will be off at first light. The plan is to head for Chateaubelair  Bay on the West coast of St Vincent to check in and then spend a few days in Cumberland Bay.