Anyway, our first broken bit was our computer which is also why this post has been delayed. Why it broke we don’t know [though we think it was a virus from somewhere] but it was disappointing as it was only a year old and a bit of an expense that we hadn’t planned because it cost us a new hard drive. Fortunately we had most things backed up except for photos and documents created in the past three months so not all is lost.
Our second breakdown occurred yesterday when we turned the engine on to make the final approach to an anchorage and red lights came on and loud whining noises were heard because we were overheating. Mike quickly diagnosed the fault as the raw water cooling system and we now have a new impeller installed and all seems well. Again, we are at a bit of a loss to understand why this happened because one of our first jobs when we came out of the water was to give the engine a thorough service which included a new impeller. Following the Nigel bible Mike put petroleum jelly on before replacing the cover but for some reason the gasket seems to have disintegrated causing an air leak and therefore a dry impeller as it wasn’t circulating the sea water. Ah well, it wasn’t for the lack of TLC and we can only hope that there isn’t another reason it all ran dry which we have missed. Water is now flowing properly so we can but hope.
So, what have we been doing since our return to Grenada from the UK. Well, we spent just over two weeks getting Siga Siga ready to “splash” as they seem to call launches in these parts. The main job was the antifoul. Prior to our UK trip Mike had prepped the undersides ready for the application of new paint. Or, at least, he thought he had! On looking at it again he decided that all the rubbing down he had done just wasn’t good enough, so we are now the proud owners of a small, but effective, orbital sander which has made a significant difference. Because we have raised the boot top and because the old stripes were a bit tatty Mike also decided to repaint these. So, having properly masked the area and armed with the correct paint he started the job at about 10am on our last Saturday on the hard. I had gone on a shopping bus to St. George with a few other folk and therefore didn’t witness the chaos which ensued but I am assured that it was not a pretty sight and that the air was as blue as the paint. Anyway, I can’t recall whether or not I told you about the gel coat work but there was a really good guy at Grenada Marine called “Slice”…..
…….who was a very accomplished gel coater and painter and, unusual though it was for him to be working on a Saturday, he happened to pass by the boat as Mike was making his awful mess. I understand that Slice swore a bit too – but he took charge of Mike and with careful tuition, some thinners, a roller and three coats of paint later we had a beautifully painted boot top. The instructions said “Do not use thinners”. “Rubbish” said Slice “the weather here means that the paint is far too thick to apply hence the f….gloopy mess you have made”. “Apply with a brush” said the tin. “Rubbish” said Slice – “you need a roller”. The tin said “Don’t re-apply for eight to twelve hours”. “Rubbish” said Slice, “you test it on the masking tape with your fingers after about three hours and it should be almost hard but not come off”. So, as we now know…it’s not always what it says on the tin! As you can see, the boot top and the antifoul look great and Slice is now the proud owner of Mike’s bike.
The two new ball valves have been fitted [and we aren’t leaking] and our doubling of the solar panel wattage and fitting of the new regulator seems to be giving us a much improved battery charge.
But, as usual, the two weeks weren’t all work and no play. We were really pleased to be able to get to two Hashes. One of the Hash traditions is that all people with “New Shoes” have to drink out of the left shoe prior to the hash so, along with three other folk I entered the Hash spirit [well, Beer actually]. That was Hash number 749.
Hash 750 was a big occasion and took place at a small resort called “La Sagesse” which was about 20 minutes walk from the yard. It was an excellent Hash and initially we set out to walk the runners trail of 7 miles. We gave that up about a third of the way along and rejoined the walkers trail but still covered about five miles.
We were pretty tired and sweaty having just done that and we were certain that we did the right thing because normally some runners return before the walkers even though they have done a longer trail – but at this Hash there were no runners to be seen when we got back to the beach. The 7 miles took them about 2 hours [for the fast ones] and some were still staggering in after three hours. By all accounts [one of which was from our mate Jack] it was feckin hard.
Jack is a Bostonian with an Irish heritage but had never heard the word feckin. We told him it was a must for his vocabulary and that it is something which you can say to your mother and not to be confused with the word that your mother wouldn’t want to hear. Just so that he could be sure that it is used we sent him Fascinating Aida’s song about budget airlines – a good listen if you have never heard it. Click here.
It was also my birthday but, typically, it fell on a Bank Holiday so everything was shut. Being as there was nowhere to go we just got on with our jobs, though we did go for a night out at the bar and a very nice fresh tuna meal.
“Beausoleil” splashed three days before us and because Shawna was in the US [having had to get a job for 12 months due to the vast amount they have just had to fork out to mend the rudder] we and another couple [Diana and Ross] offered to crew for Jon as he sailed round to Mount Hartman. It was just an excuse to get out on the water really!
Fortunately, Shawna can work from the boat and was only in the States for two weeks so, following our own splash, we also spent a couple of days in Mount Hartman which gave us the opportunity for a final evening with them at the Tiki Bar in Prickly Bay….
And, speaking of final evenings, we shared a few farewell drinks with Anders and Catryn [“Ellinor”] and JoAnne and Bill [“Ultra”] and a French couple who just happened to be speaking with Anders as we decided to take this photo!
It was great to be on the water at last and Mount Hartman is a lovely place. Although it initially felt strange to be bobbing it was wonderful not to be plastered in mozzie killer and to be able to jump into clear warm water whenever we want.
Overall, we have enjoyed being in Grenada. As I have said in earlier blog posts we have learnt from our experiences and would probably do hurricane season in the Eastern Caribbean differently next time. But then again we mustn’t forget that in general it has been a quiet hurricane season – for the Windward Islands at least. It could have been a very different story if Ernesto or Sandy had been a few hundred miles further south.
So, a new month and away we go again. At 7am on 1st November we waved a fond farewell to St George as we left Grenada for clearance out in Hillsborough on Carriacou.
OK – who remembers the tale of the customs and immigration man in Carriacou. Well, I think maybe he has read the blog too and decided to punish me – and on this occasion he really exceeded himself. It all started out quite well. We remembered to knock and we remembered to say “Good Morning” and make all the necessary pleasantries. But what didn’t we do. Well we [or rather I] didn’t remember to keep the two small tear off slips from when we entered Grenada on our return flight from the UK. They were scrappy bits of paper about 4 inches by 1 inch which, as far as I can remember, had our names, UK address, date of birth and passport number handwritten on them. We think they probably got thrown away among the other paperwork from the flight like the e.tickets and the itinerary and all the other detritus which is collected at airports. Clearly I now know that these were probably the two most important bits of paper I have ever had in my possession because as a result of not having them we were told that we would have to appear before a judge for losing them and that it would be three weeks before he would be back in Carriacou and that we would have to go to jail for those three weeks so that we couldn’t escape the country. We kept asking him what information it was that he needed but he couldn’t/wouldn’t tell us and just went on and on about how disrespectful we were for losing his valuable paperwork. To cut a long story short – after a few tears [mine not Mike’s] he said that if, when he checked on his system, he found that we hadn’t broken the law anywhere else in the Caribbean he would allow us to leave. Mike had almost lost it by this stage and muttered something about the only laws we were likely to have broken would have been driving ones but that since we hadn’t hired a car that was rather unlikely. Fortunately I think he was too busy passing our passports to his underling for checking to take that remark in. As the underling handed back each passport he gave Mr. Immigration man a number. I think this was possibly a number which was printed on the scrap of the form which allowed him to tie up our arrival and departure. Obviously all he actually needed was our passports to do this. So, he made what we believe was an absolute mountain out of a molehill and turned his boring day into something more interesting by making us feel very uncomfortable and quite concerned. If he could actually see the amount of paperwork I keep relating to every aspect of the boat and every clearance we have made since leaving Liverpool he would know that I don’t idly throw paperwork away – but of course all that paperwork was of no account to him. The 4inch by 1inch scrap was what he wanted and we had to “pay” for not having it. And, speaking of paying…. We were then charged all of $EC2 [£0,50] to have our passports stamped and leave!!
And leave we did, pretty sharpish – that is after we had had a reviving gin and tonic. It may have been well before the sun went down over any part of the boat – but we felt that we needed it.
Our first stop was Union in the Grenadines…
In the monthly magazine for yachties called “Caribbean Compass” we had read about a Dominican boat which, in August of this year, had managed to go aground just outside Bequia and, as we rounded West Cay, we saw her stuck on the shallow reef. The pilot says that small boats can get through this gap but that the only real way to cross it is to swim so what on earth possessed the captain of a boat this size to try to get over the reef I have no idea. Neither does he now….!
It was at Union that the computer broke and our intention had been to clear out of the Grenadines and make a quick passage to St. Lucia as we thought that that would be the best place for repair/replacement. However, at the internet café in Bequia we asked whether there was anyone who might help and we were put in touch with Gil. He is a French guy who used to visit the island as a child and who came back for a visit a few years ago, met and married a local lass and stayed. He has now set himself up as “Sunny Computers” and comes well recommended by us.
The repair took longer than we had expected and meant an enforced 5 night stay. But Bequia can’t be described as the worst place in the world to be stuck as the photo below and the one at the start of this post show
We were delighted to see that the “Friendship Rose” which was mastless when we were last in Bequia [June] has now been fully restored and is once again sailing round the Grenadines. She was once the island’s only ferry but is now a day charter boat offering trips to Tobago Cays or Mustique.
It is possible to anchor in this bay in calm weather though we haven’t done it. The walk was supposed to be down one side of the bay, along the beach and up the other. What transpired was a two and a half hour slog up various dead end roads as, having turned the wrong way at the end of the beach, we tried to make our way back to our dinghy via Mount Pleasant. The guide book says that the hills of Mount Pleasant are “almost like another world”. Well, yes they are …. A world full of roads going nowhere!
As usual we have photographed some of the local flora and fauna. We were quite surprised how close to this egret we were able to get.
He is not as big as the land crabs which are caught for eating and which are actually black in colour. But if Chris and John paste this photo on Preston’s dog bed then he will have some idea, and can dream about, what land crab terriers are supposed to catch.
We were pleased to see that some of the restaurants which were closed on our last visit have started to open up again. They seem to be gearing themselves for the season to start round about the middle to the end of November. The “Whaleboner” is quite an interesting bar with seats and part of the bar made from – you guessed it – whalebones.
Bequians are descendents of settlers who came from North America on whaling boats [as well as from farms in Scotland and from Africa].The island still has an active whaling station though this is very low key. By agreement with the International Whaling Commission local whalers can take four whales a year but in many years they do not get any. In 2011 they caught one and they do it from open sailing boats using hand thrown harpoons.
Not needing to replace the computer in St.Lucia we decided to by-pass the island and make straight for Martinique and so we had an excellent overnight sail leaving Bequia at 16.45 on the 8th November and arriving at Grande Anse D’Arlet at 0700 on the 9th. It is great to be able to report that Siga Siga is performing well. We are not sure whether it was the decoke Mike did on the exhaust, or that the prop is now clean and shiny, or that the bottom is beautifully sanded and antifouled but, whatever it is – both under sail and with the motor we seem to be averaging 1 knot per hour faster than we were before.
After two days of feasting ourselves on some French food and enjoying the quiet delights of the bay we set sail again and are now in our favourite anchorage in Dominica – Portsmouth Bay. The sail to Dominica from Martinique took us eight and a half hours and it was excellent sailing. We had to reef the genoa for about an hour when the wind increased through the Dominica channel but other than that we flew along under full canvas. There was a little bit of rain during the day but that just added to the beauty of the verdant landscape.
We had decided that we would anchor in Rosseau as there is a lot of Dominica which we haven’t seen and which is best accessed from its southern anchorage. The pilot was a bit confusing but seemed to suggest that there were three or four places available adjacent to the beach in depths of around 8 meters. As a result we told “Sea Cat”, the Boat Boy who came to meet us, that we didn’t want a mooring buoy and proceeded up the coast towards Rosseau to find a good spot. Other than by what would have amounted to beaching ourselves we couldn’t find anything under 25 meters. There must be one heck of a narrow shelf somewhere but we weren’t about to risk being that close to shore and so, when the guy from the marine centre came alongside in his boat and offered a mooring, we decided to take it. That was the day before yesterday. Yesterday we were here in Portsmouth having spent an awful rolling night on the buoy. It means that, unfortunately, some of the sights such as the Emerald Pool and a few waterfalls and gorges have eluded us yet again – but at least we can sleep and we are “on the hook” rather than on a mooring buoy which we couldn’t even snorkel to check because it was too deep.
We did, however, clear in at Rosseau – and took the opportunity to visit the market – because we wanted to take on diesel and water at the marine centre. What we didn’t know [and don’t really understand] is that if you clear into one anchorage on Dominica but plan to visit the other [there are really three places but most people go to the most southerly and northerly] then you have to get a coastal permit to go between them and clear out of the last one you visit. Previously we have cleared into and out of Portsmouth and have thought it an excellent system because one visit to the customs/immigration office covers both in and out as long as a 21 day period is not exceeded. So, we are at a bit of a loss as to why we need to go twice because of visiting the two anchorages but being within the 21 day period – but we sure aren’t going to risk not doing the right thing!
Our reason for wanting to get fuel in Dominica was that our most expensive diesel yet was in Guadaloupe [i.e. France]. Although we still had a half full tank it is often a case of get it while you can and as we intend to spend the next week “in France” and then go to Montserrat where there doesn’t appear to be a fuel stop it seemed wise to purchase now.
For those yachties reading this blog who are interested in the cruising info then here is a synopsis of fuel prices paid to date. The price per litre is approximate as currency values change, but as near as I could get for comparison.
Here in Portsmouth we have reacquainted ourselves with the locals – e.g. the guy who bought my bike, the fruit seller who never has any fruit, Ray – who makes excellent roti and who had a chicken and pig tail soup on the menu today which Mike enjoyed for lunch – and some of the boat boys. We were surprised to see that the three dingy docks had been washed away [Ernesto] but a new one has been built. We have also managed to take advantage of the occasional heavy showers which have passed by.
So, here we are once again making our way north. It seems strange as we pass/stay on the islands during this northward passage that we probably won’t see them again for the next five to ten years because we will soon begin to make our way west. But all of that is to come and will, of course, be reported in the usual manner on the blog.
Until then…. Love to all