Sunday, 6 December 2015

Grenada again November 2015

Grenada again  November 2015

Having spent part of September and the whole of October back in Europe having a lovely time visiting friends and family it is time to head for sunnier climes.

Waiting to leave Gatwick and being delayed by fog for about 3 hours was something of a shock. So was arriving in Grenada to be faced with a week of torrential rain and strong winds and not much chance of getting our outside jobs done. Too wet outside and too hot below as the driving rain meant every hatch and porthole was shut!

Everything soaking wet!

It really felt like we were ‘going afloat’ even though we had only been ‘laid up’ in the water for 6 weeks. Systems needed re commissioning, we had a light coating of mould on some surfaces, mainly due to the extremely high humidity while we were away. We wanted to get our jobs done and be away from the marina, but not before we managed to arrange an island tour and book our engine in for a rebuild in Carriacou.

We had a fun reunion with Paw Paw, Exit Strategy, Star Charger and Somewhere. At the marina restaurant on the second night, which serves really delicious food, I had Callaloo stuffed chicken breast with a divine creamy sauce. Most boats are off soon, north or west, so we will not see some for a long time. We met Puddlejumper in the marina and Stuart from Sea Gypsy popped in for a visit so it was quite sociable in spite of the rain and all the jobs

An unusually calm day in the marina

Our jobs list just seemed to get longer no matter how hard we worked! We declined invitations to lunch, jazz evenings, hikes and other social gatherings preferring to work on our list. Eventually we fitted our new solar panels, repaired the cockpit grating, climbed the mast to silence the wind turbine nose cone, fitted our new CD radio, fitted a new seawater tap in the galley, serviced the outboard, inflated the dinghy and cleaned the boat inside and out. The only advantage of the rain was we found the leak into the cockpit locker via the gas locker! Unfortunately it was too wet to fix it for several days!

Bailing the dinghy again - Note the floating petrol tank!

While cleaning we ended up replacing some headlining that fell down and discovered a piece of canvass that was lurking in a locker that made an ideal shade cloth. We also found a tin of Ravioli from Lidl in Gosport, we haven’t quite worked up the courage to eat it yet! But it’s got to go!

Finally we had to replace our old BBQ purchased from a camping shop in England, after 3 years it was completely rusted away. We now have a shiny stainless steel unit clamped on the aft rail fuelled by a propane cylinder, minimum mess and fuss, maximum braai experience! Hang the expense!

Enjoying our new Braai!

The marina has a lovely pool so some evenings we managed to quit work early enough for a swim before dark and enjoy their beautiful gardens.

The Carenage St Georges -  from the Nutmeg restaurant

We did a lot of provisioning as there is a good variety of supermarkets in Grenada and we had tried to empty the boat as much as possible before we left. We also plan to cruise the Grenadines for a while and many of the anchorages will have no shops. We are really looking forward to the peace and quiet – Grenada always feels hectic.

Having been marina bound for a week longer than expected we eventually managed to get away. It is always a heart stopping moment wondering if our engine will start. Thank goodness we now have the spares for the Illustrious Uwe to finally fix it. Start it did, eventually, thank goodness! (TF! for our Irish readers).

We had another week at anchor in Martins Bay, just outside St Georges. We had planned to go round to Prickly Bay just to experience “Camp Grenada” to the full, but southerly swells made us decide against it. It is apparently a swelly anchorage anyway and as it is open to the south it would not be pleasant. 

We sorted out all our odd jobs like posting the Navtex back to England for repair, getting watch batteries fitted in town, a last nice haircut by Michelle at the Spa in the marina, organised our Island tour and final shopping. At least out here we can swim off the boat, watch the boobies and terns, enjoy the sunsets and have a braai (BBQ).

The Grenada Island Tour will be a separate blog to follow, as it was so interesting.

With a forecast of Easterly 15kt winds and 3-5ft seas we are on our way back to Carriacou where Uwe has his workshop. Armed with new injector tips and sleeves, a full gasket kit and Uwe’s workshop and engineering skills we are confident we can fix just about anything.

Why does the forecast never play ball? We end up motor sailing most of the way. Carriacou is NE from Grenada and the current sets you east, so why is the wind now NE 20-25Kts and the 5ft waves are the small ones? Our tired old engine struggles to push this heavy boat at more than 4.5 Kts against wind, waves and current. Arriving just before dark we anchor in Tyrrel bay near the back of the fleet. Time for some serious engine work and a bit of R&R! 

Choppy seas off Diamond rock

What seemed like an age to get here in fact was only seven and a half hours, the log read 39 miles, exactly the same as on the way down to Grenada. An average speed of 5.2 Kts. About what we always seem to make. (We passage plan at 125 miles a day)

Uwe our mechanic wastes no time in removing the cylinder head for some time in the workshop. The injectors are pulled and are seriously worn, the valves are removed and reveal some badly pitted seats. Nothing unrepairable and it seems the diagnosis regarding the engine was correct. The bottom end is fine so we can put it all back together. Not so fast! We have a problem with one of the new injector nozzles. It appears to have been incorrectly manufactured so won’t work. It will have to be sent back to the UK for a replacement. 

Headless in Carriacou!

The decision is made to rebuild the engine using one old injector so at least the engine will work while we wait for the replacement.

Moment of truth time, start it up is the command! I turn the key and verrumm! A perfect start, a few adjustments and we are almost ready to go apart from the raw water pump which has mysteriously developed a leak. This pump was replaced 18 months age when we had the engine work done in Antigua. The skipper is not happy. Removing and disassembling the pump reveals the tension spring on the water seal has rusted away. Rust, surely not? This component is immersed in seawater so it should be made of a material that is resistant to this environment? Fortunately we have spares for rebuilding this pump on board.
Another morning doing a job that was not originally on the list! Rebuilding the pump also revealed a water hose that had been abraded by the alternator belt. The hose is one of the few spares we don’t have so we have to order it from the chandlers in Grenada. Yet another delay, oh the joys of cruising, fixing your boat in paradise! Still we have discovered another excellent 10 year old locally made rum. It just has to be sipped slowly over ice while watching another perfect sunset!

Now we wait, at anchor, for the new injector to arrive, fettling the boat and seeing a bit of Carriacou.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Carriacou still!

Carriacou still!

Thursday - we should be lifted out today. Our morning check in with the boatyard reveals that there are still 2 boats to be launched before we can come out. So it finally looks like things will happen later in the morning. 

But things never go smoothly. On the way to check with the boatyard our outboard fails just before we reach their dock. We are gratefully rescued by a local before we drift onto the reef! There is no time to look at it now so we get Manny the boatyard engineer to check it out for us. (Diagnosed as water in the fuel). Vince gives us a lift back to Galene and we are off to the boatyard for our haul out.
Not so fast! One of the boats being launched has a problem and has to be lifted out again. Oh no, we are now parked on the dock so nobody can go in and we must come out!

Cruisers 1 Caribbean 0 

Lifting us in the travel lift is going to present a slight problem: as we are facing forward it looks like the forestay will have to be removed, if we go in backwards then the mizzen will get in the way. Which mast do we want to de-rig? We elect to remove the forestay and the yard goes off to lunch! We will be lifted on their return. Finally Galene rises from the water. We have lost most of Thursday but at least we are out, washed off and ready to start the prep for the antifoul paint.

As a postscript to our previous blog, the weather system that we were all watching passed a long way north of us, unfortunately bringing heavy rains which caused several landslides in Dominica. Many swollen rivers resulted in washed away bridges and landslides have wreaked havoc in several villages. Tragically these heavy rains resulted in loss of life. The Dominica Red Cross have asked for donations of food, toiletries and bottled water to help with the relief effort. You can of course give hard cash as well.

Back to our lift out, Friday is spent with the skipper servicing seacocks and polished the prop. The yard are short staffed and should have been sanding and painting primer on the hull. The primer needs 18 hours to cure before the antifoul paint can be applied. We are now a day behind schedule and with Saturday a half day and on Sunday nobody works we are going to be hard pushed to get back in in 6 days let alone the 5 as originally scheduled.  

Our view from the foredeck

On Saturday it is the around Grenada race. Starting from Petit Calviny on the south coast, the race is up to Tyrell bay Carriacou for an overnight stop, you chose which side to go up (either the east or west coast), returning via the other coast. The party is quite fun with a live band and rum tasting from the sponsors (Westerhall rum). Locals, cruisers and racers alike are all enjoying themselves.

As the yard managed to sand and paint primer today, depending on how our painter feels tomorrow, he will come in and paint the first coat of antifoul.

A real working boatyard. Traditional wooden boats, fishing boats and modern yachts

Sunday morning and there are a few sore heads around! Vince has turned up to paint but looks decidedly unwell! His conscience getting the better of him he manages to put on the first coat of paint. When he had finished we offered him a cold beer-  it is the first time we have had a refusal! “I’m going home to bed” he says. Shame! The skipper still has work to do and the afternoon is spent in the blazing heat polishing the hull.
Monday we will finish the small repair on the rudder which is where it was dropped in St Lucia and the filler has come out. Hopefully with a little mat and resin we will have a permanent repair this time.

Rudder repair and primer coat

Monday also brings us the second coat of antifoul. We have enough paint for a third coat all over, not just for the waterline, rudder and leading edges as planned. As there is no point leaving paint in the tin we tell the yard to put it all on. The third coat will go on Tuesday and we will launch Wednesday morning 0800hrs!
Still time to replace the sacrificial zinc anodes on the prop shaft and fridge cooler, remark the anchor chain and clean out the anchor locker of sand and crud as well as unblocking the drain hole.

Re-marking the chain

Meantime, Rowena has moved us into our little cottage just behind the boatyard. With air conditioning and a fridge even at US$55 per night it was just too hard to resist. Life on the hard in this heat can be awful so now at least we can have a shower, cook, and sleep in air conditioned luxury at the end of a hot hard day. Having unlimited running water is also irresistible, so the cushion covers and all the boat curtains get a much needed wash and we catch up on the handwashing. The laundries out here are sometimes quite harsh so there are some things I never send to them.

Our 'home from home'

Wednesday comes and we are launched. We rig the forestay and switch all the systems on only to discover the fridge is not working! We motor out to anchor to tune the rig and call the refrigeration engineer. The diagnosis is that we have lost refrigerant, the system is recharged and we will have to have him back on Thursday to check with his sniffer for leaks. We find no leaks and the fridge is behaving itself, the loss of refrigerant is a mystery.

Chillin under dramatic skies

Our plans are to chill here for a couple of days before heading down to Grenada. Chillin’ goes by the board as the skipper suddenly gets a burst of ‘work ethic’ and decides to repaint all the teak. This involves starting painting at 0600 and finishing before it gets too hot at about 1000. Still 2 days of hard work has our rubbing strake, toe rail and grab rails looking like new. The cockpit seating is done one evening before we turn in for bed and all that remains to be painted is the cockpit grating, this can wait until we get to Grenada.  

A final shop before the weekend and we are ready to head south. Our plans are to stop at the bay North of the sculpture park and snorkel the sculptures before going on to St Georges.

Denise's fruit and veg shop

The best laid plans etc etc. As we are heading out of the bay on Saturday morning, Vince charges up in a RIB and asks us if we can take some propane bottles to Grenada to be refilled as the regular ferry is not running due to a mechanical fault. We can hardly refuse so instead of spending the weekend at the sculpture park we will now go straight to St Georges to deliver our ‘cargo’.

The sail to Grenada is absolutely magic! 5-12 Kts, from close hauled to a broad reach with all sails set, sometimes doing 7kts sometimes just 2.5kts, the tide mainly helping but sometimes pushing us 20deg off course! The sea is calm, the sun is shining and at 1530 we are in St Georges anchorage. It took us a couple of tries to get the anchor to set as the bottom is mixed coral and sand with some rocky patches as well so not the best holding. We are here, our final summer destination before we fly home for a few weeks.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Carriacou July 15

Carriacou (Carry a coo) July 15

We raised the anchor at 0600 on Wednesday 29th July in a light shower and were sailing with one reef in the main and the full genoa in an easterly F4. We soon put in the second reef as this really helps the electric autohelm as we were now sailing on a very broad reach. We had choppy quartering seas with the odd big swell  and the wind more or less behind us. After Union Island we could change course slightly so the wind was more on the beam and a much nicer sail. As well as Terns, Noddys, Frigates and the usual Brown Boobys we saw a few Red Footed Boobies too and a few small dolphins in the gap between Union and Carriacou.

Magnificent frigate bird

By 1515 we were anchored in the centre of Tyrell Bay quite far back as the bay was very crowded. Even so we were only in 6.3m of water and right next to Exit Strategy!  We saw Remedy as we came in and Dick told us Coho are here too. By the time we had tidied the boat away we decided it not to rush and try and check in – still had to lower the outboard onto the dinghy – we do not tow the dinghy with the engine on.  This meant we would not be able to go ashore for the BBQ, but we were quite tired anyway. We had  sailed 47 miles in 9 1/4 hours. So Dan came over and we had a nice quiet catch up.

The crowded bay from the dinghy dock

Thursday was the day of the Carriacou Childrens Fund Auction. This charity was started by cruisers and the funds collected help needy children with uniforms, lunches and anything they need to help them attend school. We had a few things to donate and dropped them off after checking in. We met Coho for a drink and then back to Galene for lunch and a swim.  At 3pm it was off to the auction, a whole hall of items for sale and then a bit later bigger things on auction ranging from paintings to a haul out donated by the boatyard. We ended the evening with pizza and live music at the Lazy Turtle.

Yet another beautiful sunset!

Friday was the start of the regatta here and being at the back of the fleet we had prime seats for the start and finish of the races. It rained on and off so we rigged our raincatcher and while we have not caught a lot while we have been here it has mostly kept our solar shower full.

At Anchor with the dinghy raised  - Always at night and when we are not using it to help prevent weed growth.

More racing on Saturday and then we decided to go to Hillsborough on Sunday  with Exit Strategy, Remedy and Coho to watch the work boat regatta.  These are locally hand built wooden boats traditionally used for fishing, whaling and trading between the islands but are now just raced. There is fierce competition between the islands and a great atmosphere. 

Merry Regatta Mayhem

The smaller boats are started from the beach with the last man or boy pushing and leaping in at the last moment, sometimes being hauled in by his shirt.

And the're off!

There was two days of racing and the grand finale on Sunday afternoon brought out all the island it seemed, dressed in their finery to watch egg and spoon, needle threading, bicycle and donkey races. 

When did you last see this?

The last and most hilarious was the greasy pole with cash at the end in coke bottles and all the hopefuls trying to reach it, some running, some crawling but all falling off spectacularly.

More like 'walking the plank' then climbing the greasy pole

Old and young equally enthralled!

After the regattas the bay emptied quickly , Dan leaving too and we had a nice sociable time with our friends including an excellent lamb BBQ on Coho. We tried several of the local restaurants, all very good and reasonably priced.  We had a bus trip to Hillsborough one day for some grocery shopping as the shops here have quite a small range. There is Patti’s Deli where you can get almost anything you need that the others don’t have like freshly cut ham, cheeses, bagels, etc.

Snorkelling the Barrel

We dinghied over to The Barrel on the south side of the bay with Coho for a nice snorkel. Quite deep in places but we saw many white spotted filefish, fingerprint Cymphoma on sponges, reef squid and two octopus as well as all the usual creatures. The topography is interesting too with big rocks and channels for fish to hide. Sadly on this dive my little Sony camera, supposed to be waterproof to 10m let water in and that seems to be the end of it. My lovely Fuji with its underwater housing is also malfunctioning at times so I really have to look at a new underwater camera. Any suggestions?

Anse le Roche

One day Coho invited us and Remedy to sail with them up to Anse le Roche, a nice snorkel spot to the north. We had quite an exciting sail to windward in their Hinkley 42, quite a bit bigger than Galene! Unfortunately the viz was not very good so we did not see much of interest, but there are some nice big elkhorn corals and Gordon spotted an Eagle ray on the grass but it shot off when he arrived.
After a tasty potluck lunch we had another fast sail back – a lovely day with lovely company.

Elkhorn coral

We booked Galene in with the boatyard to be lifted and antifouled on Monday 17th August and Uwe, a well recommended engineer came to look at our slow start problem. The conclusion is it is the injectors. We must get all the parts from the UK and then we will come back here for him to do the job. Progress at last. 

Remedy and Coho moved on so we just passed the time with small boat jobs and local shopping. Whenever we walk down the main street, the local busses always stop and ask if we are going to the “City” – Hillsborough, the capital of an island with 6000 inhabitants!

Purple peppers from the local veggie stall.

Sunday was a big day here – the new bar we had been watching being built had their pre- opening opening!  We had a couple of beers to support them and then walked up the back street for a delicious dinner at Tanty Mavis accompanied by live Blues. Of course, we met some more cruisers and only got back to Galene at midnight, and I don’t mean cruisers midnight!

So Monday arrives – lift out day! Richard goes to the boatyard as requested at 0800 to see what time we should come over. They are not ready for us, two boats need to go back in before there is room – it is a small yard. Probably Wednesday now.

Caribbean  1  Cruisers  0

We pass the time again – have a look at the new Sealife underwater cameras at the dive shop, take the laundry and then Wednesday dawns. Richard goes over at 1000 as requested. They are still not ready. 

Caribbean  2  Cruisers  0

At least we have something to keep us amused while we wait. There is a hurricane forming out in the Atlantic and is the hot topic of discussion ashore. All the predictions say it will not make landfall till much further north, but at the moment it is still south of us, and 1500 miles away out in the Atlantic.

Friday, 14 August 2015


Bequia (Beck-way)

Sunday 19th July. We raised anchor at 0530. It was already light with no wind as we headed south but by 0700 we were sailing with a reefed main and full genoa in a nice E F4, another pod of dolphins cavorting in the waves!

For breakfast we had porridge. We tried instant oats and instant grits (known as mealie meal in SA!). Not bad, nice and easy but not as good as when it is properly cooked.

Bu the time we neared the top of St Vincent the wind had picked up to a F5 and gone north-easterly, the seas a bit bigger. The electric auto helm was having difficulty steering; we had too much weather helm as the main was overpowering the genoa. Richard went forward to put in the second reef, the boat speed picked up and we were sailing nicely again. The wind died for a while in the lee of the island, so the ‘iron topsail’ was employed, but we were sailing again when we reached the gap between St Vincent and Bequia. There was a huge dark cloud so we quickly reefed the genoa as well, but the squall went by ahead of us. Whew!
 After yet another pod of dolphins, including one totally airborne right next to Galene, we were anchored in 5.5m off Tony Gibbon’s beach by 1730, just behind Coho! 63 miles in 12 hours.

What happens if you drink and sail!

Next morning we had to go ashore to check in and then had a nice leisurely catch up lunch with Coho at Gingerbread. There are tables under a huge almond tree right on the shoreline, very pleasant. We had an excellent braai on board with them on Tuesday night and sadly they left on Wednesday. Never mind, we will probably catch up somewhere later.

Beautiful Tony Gibbons beach

There is a great cruisers net here run by Cheryl of the Fig Tree Restaurant so we have weather forecasts every morning and lots of local information. 

Traditional boats off the beach

By Friday one of the hot topics is Kick-em-Jenny, an undersea volcano just off the north coast of Grenada. It has been rumbling for a while and now there is an increasing chance of an eruption. There is always an exclusion zone of 1.5 kilometres over the volcano but this has been increased to 5K. This is because Kick-em-Jenny can release so much gas into the water that the water density can be reduced to the extent that boats simply sink! There is also the possibility of a tsunami if there was a big eruption. We decided to stay in Bequia until things settle down a bit!  Here in Admiralty bay (Port Elizabeth) we are 40 miles away from the volcano, tucked into a nice beep bay with a few islands in between to hopefully break up any wave! As usual we managed a few boat jobs between shopping in the lovely craft shops and galleries here and a bit of snorkelling. 

Scrubbing the dinghy with a little local help
We beached the dinghy to scrub the bottom. Even though we lift it every night it still manages to go green and even collect a few barnacles. Richard fitted our new rev counter at last. We have not had a working one since Dartmouth! (In my defence m’lud, it has not been the highest of priorities and the replacement instrument only arrived last July!)
While doing this he discovered a split fuel hose, but we managed to get a replacement here and Kenny redid the ends. We got all excited as we thought maybe this had been letting air into the fuel system causing our difficulty in starting. I think this is the first time we were pleased to find something broken on the boat! Sadly, this was not the case. The mystery remains unsolved.

Typical local house

After some more scrubbing of the hull we have decided that the antifoul really needs doing as soon as possible. We will see about it in Carriacou or Grenada. Now that hurricane season is upon us we need to be further south before we stop for a while.

Fishing with technology old and new - note the mobile phone!

The Fig Tree Restaurant does a good Fish Friday BBQ outside and live music with a view over the bay. A great evening, D Real Ting acoustic band a jaunty background during dinner, then a few dance tunes and ending with traditional Calypso. We bought their CD, but have not really listened to it yet as our CD player is playing up (!!!) and keeps ejecting the CDs at random. Another job on the ‘to do’ list.

D real ting

After a weekend of more snorkelling, turtle watching from the boat, a walk ashore where we found more Pawpaw leaves for tea and keeping an eye on Kick-em-Jenny we decided to leave on Monday. This got changed when the propane gas ran out on Sunday! We have a spare cylinder but we always fill the empty one at once if possible and we can’t remember what happens with gas in Carriacou.

Galene from the beach

Monday Richard takes the cylinder to GYS, it will be ready Tuesday! As he is walking back with the newly filled cylinder the pressure release valve blows! We sit looking at it at the dinghy dock, not sure what to do, as it blows again and then keeps hissing slowly! Back to Galene and we leave it on the aft deck while we do some last minute shopping. When we get back it seems to have stopped, but we are not very happy. We have to check out from St Vincent and the Grenadines (still sounds like a 1980’s punk band to me) Our propane cylinder is left out all night and we decide that if by morning it still seems stable we will head for Carriacou. We still want to make the Regatta at the weekend. 

Bunkering with fuel and water before we leave - Bequia style!

Wednesday morning dawns and we have a propane cylinder that has stopped venting; we suspect the cylinder was slightly overfilled. So Carriacou here we come.

Our last night in beautiful Bequia

 If we can get there early enough we can make the Carriacou children’s fund pot luck BBQ.