Saturday, 11 February 2017

Back ‘home’ to a hurricane!

Back ‘home’ to a hurricane! September 2016.

Leaving the UK in the throes of an ‘Indian summer’ we are back to Grenada and a week of hard work ready to go afloat or splash as the Americans like to say.

Really, with the gentle care the boatyard took of hauling us out and the equal care we expect in returning to the water I expect there will be hardly a ripple as we majestically glide back in.

Our old and new windlass gypsy - note the wear on the old!
Still we have some serious work to do. Seacocks need servicing, the bottom needs painting and the anodes replaced. We have to plumb in our new propane gas bottles and while we are doing all this the yard will fit a new stern gland and we will engage some help to polish the hull. Yes the never ending saga of the leaking stern gland. We are finally going back to an old fashioned stuffing box, sure it will probably drip a little, but it is adjustable and easily fixed. The modern dripless gland seals never worked and dripped! (We couldn’t get a Volvo one to fit the stern tube and shaft combination).
Grenada at the end of September is hot and humid with a fair chance of rain. We are booked to launch on the 28th of September, we arrived on the 22nd  at 15.15 local time so we have 5 days to be ready (nothing like being under pressure!).

Another new fruit - Golden apple, slightly tart when green. I grated it and added carrots and fresh ginger to make coleslaw. Very nice.Love the wierd seed.When ripe it is mostly crushed for juice which is good too.

We have booked to stay at Sydneys Apartments as living in the boatyard is not much fun and we don’t need any more run ins with mosquitos! It is a brisk 10 minute walk from the boatyard but we enjoy the exercise and all the houses and gardens as we walk by. It is quite rural, so there are goats, sheep and chickens wandering around, some tethered some not. The gardens are interesting mixed crops – pumpkin’s, callaloo, okra, bananas, pigeon peas and citrus fruit trees and the ubiquitous bananas and coconuts. We do enjoy the air conditioning and hot showers when we get back in the evenings.
We engage a team of locals to prep paint and polish. Of course we provide all the materials. At one point we have a team of four working on the boat, all the skipper has to do is ensure that the boatyard provide the staging for the polishers and move the stands for the painters, oh and of course make sure that the guys do what they are supposed to do! Managing projects in the Caribbean is not like the UK, you cannot just ask the yard and expect it all to be done, active hands on management is required. Still we manage to get it all done in the time, dodging a few showers along the way while carefully monitoring the progress of hurricane Matthew making its way towards the eastern Caribbean.
Well we may be ready to launch but ‘Matthew’ has other ideas. The forecast is not good and we prepare for 60kt winds on Tuesday night. The canvas we have put back (sprayhood and bimini) comes off again and we remove the summer cover from the cockpit. Everything is lashed down and we retire to our apartment with torches, bottled water, cold food, matches and three cases of beer!
I can hear people asking why so much beer? Well dear readers, beer is the one commodity that is always in short supply after a tropical storm so like good scouts we will be prepared!

Our hurricane hole - Sydneys apartments with a panoramic view down to the boatyard and out to sea so we will be able to watch the weather coming in.

Wednesday dawns with Grenada having declared a ‘state of emergency’, schools are closed and buses are not running, only essential travel is being recommended. What a beautiful day, light winds, fluffy clouds and no rain. The local children are having the time of their lives with a day off school in the middle of the week! Much to their parents’ annoyance.

Hurricane day +1 wet n windy! At times we could not see as far as the ocean.

Matthew fortunately has passed between St Lucia and Martinique. A lot of heavy rain and winds up there but not too much for us. Unfortunately our wind and rain came a day later causing traffic chaos, landslides but fortunately no loss of life unlike other parts of the Caribbean that suffered terribly.
With the bad weather a day later than predicted and the wind and swell now blowing directly into our previously a protected harbour no boats were being launched. We spent the day in the safety of the apartment watching the chaos unfold via the TV. We were really pleased that we were not in the direct line of the hurricane.

Launched at last!

Launch day was postponed until Saturday with the yard working all weekend to catch up on the backlog.

Testing the Danbuoy. It floated happily all day long so now it is back in place ready for anything!
Finally back in the water we can begin to put the sails on and return Galene to a cruising yacht again.

Enjoying the Hog island beach party with Marie from Mai Tai and Heather and Don from Assiance.

We soon moved from Clarkes Court Bay to Mount Hartman bay.

An evening race into the sunset

 Partly because it was rolly in Clarkes Court but also because there had been a number of robberies. Mount Hartman was perceived to be safer but still a bit rolly. There was plenty of entertainment when a charter catamaran ran up on the reef outside the harbour entrance. Nothing could pull him off until the tide did it the next morning! Pity there was a lot of damage to the rudders but the charter party seemed unfazed!

Cat on a reef! The barge is trying to pull it off.

We also install our new weapon against growth on our bottom, our new ultrasonic antifoul system.
Work continues apace including a few major shopping trips to restock Galene, water aerobics for Rowena and Tuesday evenings ‘Jammin’ at Secret harbour. The Skipper has got into a Rock n Roll lifestyle. Tuesday is jam night; Friday afternoon is music practice with the lads!

Jus jammin mon!

 Eventually all the jobs are done and we are off. After a couple of nights in St Georges the plan is to visit the sculpture park and then north to Carriacou to meet up with friends there.

Our pretty but rolly anchorage in Grand Mal Bay.
We spend one night at Moliniere Point. It is very rolly when we arrive but the wardens who collects our XC$26.70 mooring fee says it will drop later so we decide to stay. Bad decision!
 We go round the point in the dinghy to snorkel on the sculptures but the swell has made the vis terrible.

Rowena found this a bit creepy!

We manage to find a few murky sculptures which look like dead bodies lying on the bottom and the further out we go the darker it gets so we turn back to the shallows. We see a few fish, snapper and parrot fish, nothing very interesting and a few sponges and the odd sea fan. All in all very disappointing. Almost back at the dinghy we find a huge bait ball swirling round, quite dramatic and then excitement! A new fish!! A Flying Gurnard, the first one we have seen out here. It totally ignores us and we can follow it for a while as it sniffs along the bottom and digs in the sand with its pectoral fins which are almost like hands.

A flying Gurnard about 15cm long.
Back on board it is as rolly as ever as we watch a big tuna boat come right into the cove, a marine protected area, and throw out nets obviously after all the bait fish for his longlines! Where are the wardens now? We debate whether to stay or go back to St Georges but decide to tough it out. After a nice green flash it calms a bit but we go to bed early as it is more comfortable lying down than being thrown around the cockpit!

Dawn breaks and we decide to go. We are off at 0730 and sadly watch yet another boat netting for baitfish in the park. No wonder there are not many corals or sponges on the bottom here. Compared with the marine parks in Carriacou and Guadaloupe this is a desert.

We have to motor north until we are clear of Grenada, then the wind fills in from south of east and off we go! With moderate seas and a F4 we make Carriacou by 12.30 with a door to door average of 6.6Kts. I wish it was always this easy.

Carriacou in sight - we can't wait to get back to lovely calm Tyrell Bay.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Carriacou Once Again!

Carriacou Once Again! 13th May 2016

We left Clifton in light winds and had a lovely calm sail with 1 reef in the main and full genoa and mizzen. The only downside (there always has to be one!) is the wind speed indicator is working intermittently. 

We dropped anchor in Tyrell Bay at 13:15 having sailed 13 miles in 3 ¼ hours.

We planned to go to the Petit Martinique Regatta the next day so it was a rush round to check in, drop the laundry, get water and do some grocery shopping. For supper we walked up for Miss Luckys amazing chicken and chips.

Looking out to Petite Martinique - Pity we didn't get there!

Saturday we woke to heavy cloud and squalls but eventually left at 11:30, still plenty of time to complete the 15 mile journey. We made it to the top of the island in gusty winds and rough seas, reefing the main again and narrowly missing many pot markers. Then we saw another huge squall coming. We would have had to sail directly into it when we turned towards PM and the anchorage is not very sheltered anyway, so we turned tail and headed back to Tyrell Bay. At 14:45 we were back at anchor having sailed 17 miles in 3 ¼ hours and moved 20 yards!

A Fun Evening on Secoudon

Sorry to have missed the regatta weekend, we settled into normal Carriacou life once again: water aerobics, Mexican train dominos, catching up with friends at sundowners on various boats and dinners ashore, watching cricket (Mainly IPL now) at Iguana Bar, snorkelling and Richard really getting into his ukulele with regular music practice with other cruisers. 

Tuning up!

They played several evenings at Levis Bar which is an open mic evening with karaoke, but everyone preferred the band. For our last Thursday evening the Tyrell Bay Choir, as the named themselves, played at pizza night at the Iguana Bar. It was a fantastic evening, a 6 piece band, occasional guest vocalists, and great pizza.

Amazing we were all in tune and in time!

The next day everyone started leaving, some for Trinidad and some for Grenada, all getting prepared for the hurricane season.

Sunday 12th June was our planned departure date and we woke to strong wind and heavy rain! Once again, not what was predicted. However, it all calmed down and we raised anchor at 0900 for another lovely sail down to Grenada with a pilot whale sighting the highlight of the day.

We arrived to find the Navy in town - Not an invasion but a combined coastguard excercise!

We dropped anchor in Martins Bay just outside St. Georges at 15:45, 37 miles in 6 3/4 hours. Glad to be here so we know we will be in Clarks Court Bay in time for our hail out on 27th.

After an excursion to town on Monday we returned to find that Galene had dragged! Fortunately not into another boat. The holding is notorious here, rubble over shallow sand. It took us five attempts this time before we were happy.

Baby Green back Herons in a Tamarind tree next to the Grenada yacht club. This was taken from the balcony!

Now it was time to get ready to leave Galene - try to eat up all the perishables, clean everywhere and spray for insects, but in between still socialising with other boats, quite a few who were in Tyrell Bay with us and some that arrived from elsewhere. 

Saturday 18th we left for Clarks Court Bay. A fair sail to the bottom of the island then very lumpy and unpleasant all along the bottom with one big squall with heavy rain. We were anchored in 10m off Rocky Point by 12:50 having sailed 13 miles in 3 hours. 

Finally secured at anchor!

We now have a week to get all the sails off before our haul out. Sounds fine, but the forecasts are never accurate so you have to get up each day and if it is calm, quickly get a sail down. Hard for Rowena as she was still in pain and tired from the Chikengunya, and the anchorage was very rolly and uncomfortable so we were being battered around most days by wind and swell as well. Anyway, we got it all done and moved into the haul out dock on Sunday afternoon and removed the Bimini and all the shade covers as well. Unfortunately the restaurant in the boatyard was still not open so we really had to plan our meals the last few days. 

Conviently this is the bus stop for the bus from Woburn to St Georges!

Monday 27th our lift was booked for 08:00, so we were up early and ready. The boatyard staff were there early too, the trailer having been left in place on Saturday at the end of the day. The haul was very efficient; they even have two divers who ensure the straps are in the correct place. Galene was pressure washed and moved to her spot at the end of the yard, under the cliff which looked very safe, and tied down. We went up and did the final checks, put a shade tarp over the cockpit and were showered and ready for lunch by 12:30.

Out we come!
Donna brings lunches to the boatyard from her little cafe up the road, so we made sure we had ordered the day before. Then it was a taxi to the airport, a bit early but nice to relax with a beer and wait for our flights to England.

Tobago Cays Again.

Tobago Cays Again.

Monday 9th May we are off to the Keys. Up and off by 07.15 set off with full Main and Genoa with a forecast of 10-15 kts, should have known better as we soon had a reef in and +/- 20Kts all the way! Still 30 miles door to door in 5 hours is OK. 

Anchored in the Keys

As it was windy when we got to the Keys we anchored in the ‘cut’ by Petit Bateau Island. We thought it might be more sheltered here than in the main anchorage exposed to the Atlantic. It was still rolly and the waves were breaking hard on the outside reef .

Yes the reef really is this pretty!
Guess we are back in the lee of Africa! Checked the weather forecast, hum, 20kts tomorrow as well. We are a bit sorry we came 

Bar Jack on the hunt

Tuesday overcast and windy as forecast but we will make the most of it.

Snorkelling off the boat we see a big southern Stingray, we will stay another night as the wind is predicted to drop. 

Ceasar and French Grunts

We will snorkel on the outside reef tomorrow. 

Fireworm eating a sponge

Worth doing as water was clear and shallow.

After Snorkelling

Thursday 12th May, we are off to Clifton to check out of the Grenadines. Dull overcast and squally again. It is too early for summer weather.  

Clifton Anchorage Union Island

 We cover the 5 miles to Clifton in less than an hour!

The new dinghy dock at the Bourganvilla

We will check out in Clifton as we don’t want to pay for another month in the Grenadines.   
Lunch at 'Yummy Stuff' Cafe

We are planning to go to Petit Martinique for the local boat regatta at the weekend but first we have to check in to Grenada. So back to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou, a port of entry to Grenada.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Back to Bequia

Back to Bequia 

Thursday 14th April 2016 we raised anchor at 0730 and headed north. With about 10kts SE and not much swell all day we had a gentle sail eventually having all the sails up with no reefs. Can’t remember when we last did that.

Aptly named!

It took 9 hours to sail the 46 miles accompanied by Red Billed Tropic Birds, Sooty Terns and Red Footed and Brown Boobies. Dozens of Laughing Gulls gave us a cheerful welcome to Princess Margaret beach. 

The walk down from Tanty Pearls

We caught up with Ansari and Remedy with socialising on the boats, walks down to Lower Bay for excellent lunches at Dawns CafĂ©, a few meals at Cheryl’s Fig Tree restaurant and a really steep walk up to Tante Pearls with magnificent views over the bay.
Lunch at Tanty Pearls

Tuesday we woke up to big northerly swells rolling in which got worse as the day progressed. Eventually we moved right into the bay and took a mooring where it was perfectly calm but we could watch the huge waves crashing on the shore.



We stayed on the mooring until Friday hunting all over town for a new battery for my mobile phone which we eventually ordered from Sunny Computers on the opposite side of the bay. It will be here next Thursday – not bad.

We had an interesting walk with Kathy and Peter to Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. Up the steep hill behind Port Elizabeth, out of town and into dry forest. 

Hiking to the Turtle sanctary

We eventually followed a track down to the sea into an old coconut plantation, the trees at least a hundred feet tall. There were also the remains of a sugar making factory, no buildings, just the kiln areas and foundations. It was a very pretty bay with a small island and a few fishing boats and nets drying under the trees.

Over another hill and then we were at the sanctuary. We have been before and it is rather whacky. The owner used to hunt turtles but later decided they needed conservation so he has a few indoor pools with a selection of turtles. I think he is well meaning but many of the turtles had bits missing. Apparently they bite each other and don’t let go – their normal way of feeding. 


 A few larger ones have holes drilled in their shell and when he goes spearfishing he takes one with him for a swim in the sea! We gave him a donation unsure of whether we should encourage him or not!

Not part of the Turtle sanctuary but a piece of space junk from a satellite rocker launcher - It fell from the sky and washed up on the beach!

On the way back we stopped for a very welcome drink at the Sugar Reef right on the beach as well. We decided the lunches were a bit pricey so headed back to town for a delicious roti at The Porthole.

With the swells subsiding we left the mooring and returned to the anchorage off Princess Margaret beach. The bay was empty but not for long and we were soon surrounded by friends old and new! Looks like Bequia is going to be very sociable again! 

The Plantation house announced they were showing a movie one evening. This seemed like a nice idea as we haven’t seen a movie for ages. We turn up at the appointed time to find the staff fiddling with the projector, computer and sound system. An hour and a few rum punches later they were still fiddling and no movie, eventually the movie was officially cancelled! Oh well never mind we met some nice people while we were waiting so not a total loss!

Anchored off the beach we spend time snorkelling the reef between Princess Margaret and Lower bay, 


This is really a good spot as we always see so much interesting life here. Rowena had fun trying to photograph all the blennies and gobies which are mostly less than 5cm long.

Seaweed Blenny

Saddled Blenny

Bequia seems to be one of those places that is difficult to escape from! The skipper has now taken on the job of controller for the local VHF radio net and what with a never ending social whirl of lunches and sundowners, it looks like we will be here a while! This presents other problems, the propane tank will need refilling and we will have to get water soon. 

How to remove a Booby from the mizzen  - with the aid of a sharp stick!

Deciding to use Daffodil’s water barge to water up as we are almost empty and take on 60 gallons. Later we discover that the water has a funny soapy taste! We change the filter but that doesn’t improve things much. We are going to have to get bottled water for drinking and cooking until we have emptied the tanks. This is the first time we have had a problem in four years away. (Make a mental note to self to taste all water before putting it in the tank).


Repairing the last whaleboat in Bequia. No longer used as they have finally stopped whaling but it is planned to use it for whale watching trips to give the full whaling experience!

We have been here for 3 weeks now and as much as we like it here we really need to be going somewhere else, we are after all cruising. Tobago Cays here we come!