Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Wasting away in Tyrell bay again!

Wasting away in Tyrell bay again! (Apologies to Jimmy Buffett!)

Up early and away. Yes we are going sailing, well motoring, until we get to the north of Grenada. With 15Kts slightly south of east forecast and our course 020 True we put a reef in the main as a precaution. As we are on a reach we decide to use the mizzen as well. 

With the full genoa we are having a storming sail, up to 8.6 kts at times. As we approach Diamond Rock the seas become very lumpy and the wind is increasing and becoming gusty. We hand the mizzen as there is too much weather helm and put a second reef in the main. A good job we did as the autopilot manages to loose the plot in the gusts sending us off to the west! Rolling in some of the genoa restores the balance and reduces the speed a little as a wind shift almost causes an involuntary gybe.

With all of the excitement we notice water in the engine bilge, it appears the grease cap on the brand new not to leak very much stern gland has come loose and we pump out 3 buckets of water! In the space of 20minutes we have gone from a fun exhilarating sail to a rough lumpy ride. Who said sailing in the Caribbean was boring?

We arrive in Tyrell bay at 12.30 with the wind from the south! All the boats are facing the ‘wrong way’ but we find a big space to safely anchor with plenty of swinging room. Our 33 miles was covered in just under 5 hours! An average of over 6.6 Kts!

From a 'racing snake' to a houseboat! Note the rain catcher. The water often goes straight from the catcher to the solar shower so we have fresh hot rainwater for our shower, such luxury!

A lovely refreshing swim and supper at the Slipway restaurant with Peter and Cathy, it really feels like ‘home’ here.

Our plans were to spend some time diving with George and Connie at Arawak divers, unfortunately we discover that George is terminally ill and going back to Germany, Connie is selling the business so sadly we will have to rethink.
Baby crayfish, arrow crabs and butterfly fish seen snorkelling just off the dive shop

Tyrell bay has suffered from hurricane Matthew, many tons of sand were washed from the beach onto the road along the sea front which has changed the beach in places. In some places it is no longer a gentle slope but a steep step into waist deep water with exposed rocks.

The dinghy docks have suffered as well, only the boatyard and Lumba Dive docks have remained unscathed. The dock at Lambi Queen is damaged and the Gallery cafĂ© dock doesn’t exist! Going ashore has become a bit of a challenge!

After the Lion fish hunt

We quickly settle into a routine of Water aerobics 3 mornings a week, Mexican train dominoes Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, Levi’s music jams on Monday evening, Pizza and music on Thursday evening. When you add coffee mornings, sundowners, dinner at Luckys and Tanty Mavis plus other ad hoc social events we are kept pretty busy.

A musical soiree at Diane and Richards!

The skipper has taken on the job of net controller 2 days a week, everyone wants him to stay forever and play music! Rowena is helping with the local children’s swimming classes, we are hunting the Lionfish to save the reefs, perhaps we should take up residency?
All that is visible is the cabin top and the mast stump!

Excitement of the day, Oscar’s boat Marsvinet has sunk on its mooring just behind us. It is a real hazard to navigation and more than one charter boat manages to get snagged up on it.

It makes for a good snorkel site and it is unlikely to be removed despite several attempts to re-float it.

It doesn't take long for the fish to move in

The wildlife both above and below the water never fails to amaze. Terns, Laughing gulls, Pelicans, Boobies and Frigate birds, all chasing the fish swirling around in the feeding frenzy below the water.


We even saw a pregnant shark swimming through the anchorage one evening! We believe they go to the mangroves to give birth.

While we are here Rowena has a BIG Birthday. Supper at Bogles an excellent evening.Say no more!

Iguana bar gig!

We have decided to stay for Xmas and wait for more of the skipper’s music pals to arrive.

And again!

We have also been invited to an Old Years Night party (as they say out here) and Levi’s New Year’s Day bash (along with half the island!) There is only one slight problem, our 3 month Grenada visa expires on the 27th December so we either have to renew or leave the country.
Galene has a lovely day sail to Anse la Roche with the crew of Ansari and Coho
With some great snorkelling!

Our plans are to leave and spend a week at Union island for a change of scene, then come back and we will be fine for another 3 months, not that we plan to stay long after Xmas and the New Year, but you never know!

Seen at the Iguana bar - not all the wildlife is in the band!!!

Carriacou is such a laid back place, slightly bonkers in many ways but with real charm. Almost unspoilt by tourism, the sort of place where you really are made to feel welcome. Here we are a visitor not a tourist!

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.